THE ATTITUDE OF TAOISM and the Buddhist
concept of nonattachment and the basic principle of cognitive
therapy can be reduced to a single technique that creates calm,
contentment, and peace of mind. The technique is to let go of
an idea youre clinging to. Remind yourself it is only an
idea and stop clinging to it as if the idea were meaningful and
For example, Judy is a thirty-eight-year-old
woman who lives in the same town as her alcoholic mother. Judy
was upset about this. It bothered her that her mother drank so
much every day. One day she discovered the prime source of her
stress: The idea that it was her duty to save her mom.
So she gave up the idea. It was just an
idea, after all, it was not The Law. And the idea caused her
needless suffering. So every time she felt upset because of her
mothers drinking, she said to herself: The only one who
can stop Moms drinking is Mom. She became happier, more
relaxed, and probably healthier.
She let go of a fixed notion that she should
save her mom. Giving up an attachment to an idea is known by
Buddhists and Taoists as nonattachment. It is known by cognitive
therapists as arguing against should statements.
And in Rational-Emotive Therapy, they call it giving up musturbation.
Clinging to an idea is the source of the bulk of human suffering.
Heres the technique:
1. When you notice yourself unhappy about
something, ask yourself what idea you are grasping, clinging
2. Say to yourself, This is just
an idea, and ideas are not reality. This idea doesnt help
me, so Ill no longer use it as a guide. The idea is now
dismissed, thank you very much.
3. When the idea comes back later
as it probably will dismiss it again. You may be in the
habit of thinking the idea, so itll come up again after
youve dismissed it, like an idiot employee who doesnt
understand he has already been fired. Send him home again. And
again. And as many times as you must until he eventually stops
You will relax and feel happier every time
you let go of an idea that has been causing you unnecessary stress.
Let go of an idea that causes
you needless stress.