A couple of days ago my 9-year old son was on a high, he had finished a big project at school, got accepted in a special program and he said "This is a great day, everything is going well!"
I responded, "That's great, bunny". And without attempting to crush his spirits, we talked about the highs and lows of life. Today was a high and tomorrow might be a low, which led to the topic of detachment.
Detachment is often mistaken for not caring. But the central line is that we do not attach our contentment to outer circumstances, whether positive or negative. We choose to stay in a more neutral space.
Think of it as creating a buffer between the things that are happening in your life and how you feel at your core.
Obviously, this was a little advanced for a 9-year old and I don't pretend to protect him from the highs and lows of life! I simply look at it as a practice, a gradual exposure.
In mindfulness, we call this the practice of equanimity.
From the latin "aequus"=equal and "animus"=mind.
Equanimity can be described as: an evenness of mind.
Millions of years of evolution have programmed humans to protect themselves from suffering and avoid discomfort at all costs.
Now that we are not threatened by tigers or famine anymore, we are still doing everything we can to avoid discomfort.
In a sense, you are either grasping for a high or avoiding a negative experience.
The conundrum is a high is always followed by a low. And you may experience a yoyoing effect between extreme highs and lows.
Picture a wave
In a storm, the top of the wave - your highs - is far from the bottom of the wave - your lows. When you find yourself going from extreme highs to extreme lows, your life becomes tumultuous just like the stormy ocean.
Now, when the sea is calm, the waves are still there but with a short recovery from the highs and lows. You are not being swayed left and right. There is a sense of groundedness.
You can choose practices that help you stay in the calm seas, and let go of the habits that lead you to extremes even if they temporarily feel good in the moment.