Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wanting to Want

An interesting idea has been introduced into my world and I can't stop considering what it means. As humans, we want things. We crave things. We are trained to want by our society. I admit, I want the new iPhone 5. Why do I want it? My "antique" 3GS works just fine. But hearing about the new version and seeing pictures and hearing about my friends and family already having one have shaped this craving in my mind. Do I need it? No.

So we have an object or situation that we want. We know from an early age that when we get what we want we achieve a sense of pleasure. We believe that pleasure is happiness. This leads to the broken record of wanting, getting what we want, finding something new to want so that we can fulfill that desire and feel the pleasure again. We want to want. The only way our brains know to be happy is to continually have things in line to want so that we can get them and feel soothed. Wanting to want is our path to happiness.

What if we could get out of the broken cycle of wanting to want? I would imagine we'd feel much more peaceful. Maybe we'd find pleasure in what we already have, where we already are right now. It's important to note that "wanting" and "aspiration" are different and also that this doesn't mean we should ultimately sit around and smile and say no matter what everything is grand. Nope, it means we note the wanting, we pay attention to our emotions around it and we let the wanting pass. Paying attention to how you react to it and the ability to let go of it will help you move forward and take actions toward being truly fulfilled.

I did an experiment with this. I was doing a short meditation the other night. My head began to itch and since I have been thinking about this idea of not immediately trying to fulfill the "want" I didn't scratch it. I sat there in discomfort just thinking about what it felt like to want to scratch the itch. I focused back on breathing in and out. I still didn't scratch it. After a minute of what felt like torture, guess what happened? The itch slowly went away. I'm not making this up.

Dissatisfaction with the current state of our lives can very often be traced to wanting what we don't have. What if we could simply let go of that craving? Could we find a better state of pleasure and happiness just in the letting go? It couldn't hurt to find out!

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