|Giving Up Wanting|
|Written by Gina Lake|
|Saturday, 31 October 2009 07:27|
Have you ever noticed how often your thoughts are about wanting something? Usually the mind is focused on one particular thing at a time, not everything in the world you might want. It may obsess about a relationship or a new sofa, a new job, or a new car. It may obsess about being successful or being thin. Sometimes the desires are relatively small—new curtains or a better stereo, but even these desires can feel obsessive and important: You really want it.
The more you think about something, the more you want it. So, even little things can seem more important than they are. The mind has an amazing capacity to focus narrowly, and when it does that, what it focuses on becomes magnified and disproportionately important. It feels like you really need that to be happy or to be successful or whatever.
Being something as a result of having something is really the issue. We don’t want things just because they are nice; we want them because we feel they contribute to our identity. They make us feel more attractive, more successful, more special, or superior in some way, and that’s why having them seems so important, no necessary.
This is why getting what we want so often falls short of what we hoped it would be. We imbue objects and other things, like having a relationship or a particular job, with more than what it is capable of delivering. Objects and other things we want can’t make us happier and the feeling of being special they may provide lasts only briefly. The reason getting what we want can’t make us happy is that these things are the ego’s idea of happiness, but the ego is in the business of producing unhappiness. So, if you follow the ego’s prescription for happiness, you will also find yourself unhappy again because the ego will come up with reasons to be unhappy, either with what you now have or it will want more of that or something else.
The ego is what produces unhappiness, and it does this through a desire, which is basically the thought “I want….” This seemingly innocent thought, “I want…,” if believed and identified with repeatedly, rather than ignored, takes us down the path of suffering until, we think, we get what we want. For some desires, that may be an awfully long time!
If these thoughts served us in some way, it would be different. But they don’t help create what we want. They come from a place of lack: “I need this to be happy, and I don’t have it.” This wanting and needing takes us out of the present moment, where life is unfolding and bringing us exactly what we need. The ego doesn’t believe this, of course. It doesn’t believe that life brings us exactly the experiences, support, and people we need. It has different ideas about what we need to be happy.
So who is wiser? The ego or Life? When Life (Essence) brings us what we need, it often does this by moving us to go get it, so it isn’t a passive waiting for Life to deliver what it wants for us to our front door. It delivers by co-creating with us. It moves us to create a particular relationship or a particular job. It moves us to purchase a new car when it’s time to purchase a new car, no wanting necessary. Life happens, and we are part of it happening to us. When we are tuned into the moment, we naturally do whatever it takes to get what Life wants for us. So, it’s not that living from Essence means we don’t get the good things in life, but we get what fits for the Whole, not what our ego wants, which is based on conditioning. What the ego wants is very predictable: good looks, money, power, comfort, security, status, and so on. The trouble is that it can never get enough of these things to be happy.
The ego’s desires come in the form of thoughts of wanting, and they don’t serve you or Life. What would it be like if you ignored these thoughts of wanting, if you pulled the plug on them? Life would still go on, wouldn’t it? It would go on with much more acceptance and joy. You don’t need these thoughts, and they take you away from what you really want. Once you see how useless these thoughts are, you will find it much easier to be present to life as it is showing up now.
Wanting is discontentment with what is, but it’s just a thought of wanting. When you turn away from those thoughts, you discover that life is fine and unfolding beautifully just the way it is. Those thoughts give you a sense that you have a problem to solve—you have to get what you want. But the truth is there is no problem and nothing you have to get to be happy. That doesn’t mean you won’t get things, because, of course, you will get lots of things, but wanting them and thinking about them only gets in the way of appreciating and enjoying life as it is perfectly unfolding right now.
Gina’s book Anatomy of Desire: How to Be Happy Even When You Don’t Get What You Want goes more deeply into the subject of desire. It is available through the bookstore here or through Amazon.com for $14.95. An e-book is also available for $6.00.