Travelling light: why we shouldn't get too attached

Travelling light: don’t get too attached

I recently visited Europe for three weeks. I took along only a carry-on bag because I like to travel light. That way I avoid having to wait for my suitcase to show up on an airport conveyor belt. Also, I have less to lug around.

Travelling light can be valuable in many realms of life.

I try to travel light through life by carrying in my daily consciousness few grudges, few past mistakes, and few lost hopes.

It is not easy to give up grudges, but it is beneficial. 

Some people go through life weighed down by strong beliefs, inflexible habits and various addictions.

A friend of mine thinks she is doomed to hell because she does not follow all the rules of her childhood religion. Another pal of mine told me once that she would not stop drinking, even though alcohol was killing her, because alcohol was her only friend. 

Other people form attachments to a certain job or role, such as being a parent. They then suffer when they lose their job or their children grow up and move away.

I enjoy my work as an associate professor of psychology at the University of New England, but I keep my eyes open for options – just in case.

Some people form strong attachments to material objects.

Hoarders provide an extreme example of refusing to let go.

For them, throwing out a newspaper published 10 years ago is like the rest of us tossing out grandma’s wedding ring.

I recently felt sorrow when thinking about tossing out my faithful but worn running shoes. Still, I did the deed.

Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism suggest avoiding attachments. According to the Buddha, attachment is the root of suffering. I take a more moderate view: excessive attachment can lead to problems.

What is excessive attachment? As a psychologist, I put in that category anyone or anything that we think we cannot live without. Uncertainty is part of life, and everything we have we can lose.

Excessive attachment can apply to health and even to life.

It is useful to put effort into staying healthy and alive, but insisting on perpetual existence will make a person anxious. 

So like what you have, but not so much that you must have it.

Travel light. Even if sometimes you end up washing your stinking socks by hand in a hotel sink.

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, University of New England.