How can someone who has everything still be searching for happiness? We tend to think that having all we desire will bring us fulfillment and a sense of achievement. It is all too common for so many people who seem to “have it all” to find that happiness eludes them. The reason is based in the wrong way of thinking or, in other words, the wrong way of viewing life. We have bought into society’s message—promoted like a sales pitch—that if we have a bigger house, expensive cars, and more money, we will be happy.

The truth is clear:

When you become attached to things, you are setting yourself up for pain.

There will be pain in the experience of loss and separation and the realization that everything will go, sooner or later. It is all transient and an illusion.

If we want to change our relationship to happiness and break the attachment that causes pain, we need to understand that nothing lasts forever. It is a lesson to teach our children, as well, so they can take it out into the world to affect change. Nothing lasts forever.

Everything is changing, constantly, as any scientist will affirm. But how does this relate to our lives and our quest for happiness? In order to bring this concept down to a level that speaks to our lives, we must begin by giving thanks for all that we do have, instead of focusing on what we don’t have. With this way of thinking, we will begin to understand that we are just custodians in the bigger picture of our existence.

We need to put all of the gifts we posses to work, not only for ourselves, but also in service of what is good for all.

What does that mean in your life? It could be your large house with extra rooms, shared with someone who needs a home. It could be abundance of your table, offered to others. It could be the help that you extend: the ride you gave to someone who didn’t have a car; the person out in the cold whom you wrapped in a blanket.

At the end of your life, you will discover that spirit has been running the show, not you. That essence will ask what you have done for others. It is in the service of other people that you truly serve yourself, achieve your goals, and feel deep, abundant happiness. This is the path to ending attachment to transitory things. You will finally be able to see through the error of the mantra “me, me, me.” When it is changed to “we, we, we,” joy, happiness, and bliss will come to you, and you will continue to share it with the world.

Derek O’Neill is an internationally acclaimed psychotherapist, motivational speaker, author, martial arts sensei, and humanitarian. He is the author of More Truth Will Set You Free, the “Get a Grip” series of pocket-sized books, several children’s books, and an upcoming book on parenting (Fall 2013 release). Inspired by his worldly travels, he formed SQ Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on helping solve global issues facing humanity today. With charitable projects in twelve countries, the Foundation brings food, medicine, education, shelter, and other basic needs to children, families, and communities in need. In 2012, he was honored as Humanitarian of the Year and named International Celebrity Ambassador for Variety International the Children’s Charity.

*Photo Credit: Aman Deshmukh via Compfight cc