Whatever the ego seeks and gets attached to are substitutes for the being it cannot feel. (Eckhart Tolle)
Think of a moment that you enjoyed fully. Was it a moment of intimacy with your beloved, or a moment spent listening to the waves on the beach while feeling the sun on your skin? What eventually ruined that perfect state of being was a thought. Perhaps you thought about work the next day, or fears regarding finances, and you were instantly pulled away from that moment of joy.
The ego pulls you toward suffering; yet it is only thought. It cannot feel or recognize the state of being in the present moment. The experience of joy, ease, and lightness is only possible when attention is on the present moment rather than thoughts. But the spiritually unconscious person has not learned to stop or ignore the train of thought long enough to ever reach this dimension of being—the dimension of enjoyment, safety, fun, and feeling good.
Of course, there is a time for critical thinking, but if you can learn to disentangle thinking from your identity, then you can remain always in that state of joy. Now thoughts can occur, but no longer affect your state of being or your sense of identity. You can remain you without needing to worry about clinging to your life situation, your achievements, your possessions or anything else.
This disentanglement, or separation of who you are from your stream of thoughts about the external world is one of the many portals into enlightenment or awakening. When you know that you are not your thoughts, then there is a much deeper meaning behind the word “I” and a total enjoyment of life all the time. From this place, you are unafraid to be you, to calmly confront reality, to create, to open up, to forgive, and to love. This is true success, and awakening is the only step toward it.