Endless wanting is a fool’s trap that snare’s even the wise. Intellectually, we may understand that “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a useless treadmill but all too often we allow ourselves to believe, if only subconsciously, that happiness, satisfaction, contentment is only just one new car, one more promotion, one more raise or newer, larger home away.
Sure, put bluntly in black and white on paper we all “know” better. Yet we humans habitually do not do as well as we know and to know and not do, is to not know!
One reason that endless wanting is such a clever trap for the ego is that our species tends to be goal-oriented, task-focused and meaningful accomplishments bring a well-deserved sense of achievement. This is good. The trap lies in forgetting that the joys of the journey (and the lessons) are the true treasure.
Solution? Keep a journal. The journal should start with your life plan and contain goals for all major roles in your life. In addition to action plans, targets and deadlines, you should also think extensively about WHY these goals? How do you expect to feel when you achieve this goal? How will it change your life? What is the purpose of this goal?
As you achieve goals, look back. Did the goal give you what you wanted/expected? Could you have gotten that feeling/outcome/result in another, easier way? Including just deciding to feel/be that way? After all, once we are past the 1st level of Maslow’s hierarchy (food, shelter, clothing etc); most of our wants involve achieving an internal state of being more than an external one. I like an office at home so I can have peace and quiet and concentrate. My darling wife, who grew up in relatively tight quarters in Communist Bulgaria, can concentrate in the midst of what I consider an intolerable din (i.e. she is able to create peace inside her) while I’ve chosen to require an external peace. Who between us is stronger, more powerful?
“Worldly riches are like nuts; many a tooth is broke in cracking them, but never is the stomach filled with eating them.” – Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, 1772-1810
“Many wealthy people are little more than the janitors of their possessions.”– Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867-1959, architect, ‘Falling Waters’
“The more we simplify our material needs the more we are free to think of other things.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962, longest-serving First Lady of the United States, 1933 to 1945
“Ask me not what I have, but what I am.”– Heinrich Heine, 1797-1856, German poet