“We naturally think that getting what we want will reduce our suffering but it’s not so simple.”
Wanting. Plain and simple. Being in a state of wanting creates suffering. Whether you want some cake, want a new car, or want a new life, when we are in a constant state of wanting we are left feeling well, less than happy. Now you might be asking yourself, so I’m not supposed to want to eat breakfast? Wanting is a normal and natural part of being a human being. Once you get your breakfast you will feel satisfied (unless you want it to be better). But if you never get your breakfast you will suffer. But the suffering most of us deal with isn’t the wanting of a basic need being met. Most of us want something to better our situation. We naturally think that getting what we want will reduce our suffering but it’s not so simple. Unless we are wanting for a basic need, getting what we want only makes you temporarily happy, only to move on to wanting something else over and over again. The trick to happiness is to reduce how much time you spend wanting and increase the time you spend being grateful.
Never Satisfied Never Happy
I used to be a HGTV junkie. You probably are familiar with the TV shows on home improvement. They completely renovate a home and the home owners get to bask in the happiness of their perfect home. Prior to watching these shows I was happy to just own a home. Living in a tourist ski town makes home prices high and being able to afford a fixer upper in a great location was a feat my husband and I were proud to have accomplished. Then I started watching the home improvement shows. At first it was fun to dream about the ways we could improve our home. It became intolerable to look at all the things that I wanted to change and update. I became dissatisfied with my home and naturally started thinking if I just gave myself what I wanted I would feel better. I started contemplating using our emergency savings to make cosmetic updates to the house. What happened? I loved my home and all its flaws before. Wanting is what happened. I stopped watching the home improvement shows and started focusing on what I was grateful for. Grateful I was able to buy a home in a beautiful ski town. Grateful my home has a great view. Grateful I had a deck (even though it needs some work), and grateful that once I save the money to make some improvements, my home has great potential.
Gratitude Will Set You Free
“Each moment is given to you freely and therefore each moment is something to be grateful for. Everything else is icing on the cake.”
It is okay to dream of how you want to improve your life. In fact, I say dream big! The trick is wanting needs to be balanced with a healthy dose of gratitude for the way things are. This will keep you from spending your emergency savings on a new kitchen countertop only to have no savings when the water heater gives out. As you dream big, gratitude will give you the patience to work toward your goals one step at a time. Let’s face it, every moment is a gift of life. It is a gift because you did not earn it. Each moment is given to you freely and therefore each moment is something to be grateful for. Everything else is icing on the cake.
A Path Toward Happiness
“You might find you don’t need most of what you want and what you want doesn’t make you happy.”
Start by listing 3 things you are grateful for each day. This can happen at dinner time with a family, when you first wake up or before you go to bed. Write it down. If you find you have more than 4 things to be grateful for add to the list. Genuinely and mindfully make this list every day to avoid the list becoming stale. Every time you notice yourself wanting, whether it is another piece of cake you don’t need or a new sports car you can’t afford, balance the wanting with gratitude. Grateful you had the pleasure to eat a piece of cake in the first place. Grateful you have the means to own a car at all. Watch as your happiness grows over the next year as you feed it with gratitude. You might find you don’t need most of what you want and what you want doesn’t make you happy. Gratitude is what makes you happy. May your 2017 be filled with an abundance of icing to share, not because you want it, not because you feel you need it to be happy, but because you already have what you want most in life, happiness.
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About The Author
Katie Wittekind is a writer, corporate wellness professional, business owner, public speaker, and mother of two. Katie brings the themes of mindfulness, yoga, positive psychology, and parenthood together for a refreshing look at life. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the Northern Arizona University.