Can you imagine not getting what you want? Feels uncomfortable, right? I mean, why should we not get what we want?
I can certainly think of an endless list of things I want. I used to make regular wish lists, allocating time frames to each item. That is, by when I’d like to acquire/achieve it. And I’d feel really happy when I accomplished this goal and got that item.
But over the years (I am saying that a lot these days and with good reason!), I’ve come to realize that there’s a huge difference between wants and needs. Sure, the wants make me really happy. (I am thinking of those owl earrings I felt I simply had to have). But do I really need those things? The momentary happiness is wonderful, but more often than not, most of these impulsive spur-of-the-moment acquisitions are forgotten quickly enough. Like that McDonald Happy Meal my son absolutely had to have—and acted like it was a life and death matter—and forgot it promptly the moment he crossed the threshold. And a lot of other things!
So anyway, back to the difference between want and need in relation to happiness. I now know that the anticipation is the best part—something to look forward to, something to make an effort for. Have you realized that too? That the process of acquiring something is way more exciting than actually getting them? That it is enough?
There was a time I would be over-excited about getting a particular thing and even lose patience as I waited; yet, when I got it, it would hold my attention for only a few days and then I’d put it away and forget about it. Yes, as I work on clearing out my physical clutter at a snail’s pace, I am feeling a little guilty. I wish I could say I don’t do it now, but I do. (Owl earrings, owl bag and a bunch of other things… sigh!)
Collect moments, not things
At least, these days, I have schooled myself to pause every time I think I want something. I have learned to focus on experiences, not things. So yes, there are things I do work towards, but by the time I am on the verge of getting them, I find I’ve lost interest in them. Often, the journey turns into a wonderful learning experience.
Remember that sometimes not getting what you want
is a wonderful stroke of luck.
Sometimes we crave for things that we don’t need, things that may actually do more harm than good. Isn’t it a good thing when we don’t get them? And of course, life has the last laugh when we relentlessly pursue these things, get them and then realization strikes. Hindsight is always 20/20!
There’s truth in the age-old wisdom about happiness isn’t about things. Happiness is more about what we think, how we see our lives and our experiences. When we let go of wanting certain things, it is easier to appreciate what we do have. When we’re mindful about this, it allows us to make those changes in our lives that make us happier.
May we never let the things we can’t have, or don’t have,
or shouldn’t have, spoil our enjoyment of the things we do have
and can have. As we value our happiness, let us not forget it,
for one of the greatest lessons in life is learning to be happy
without the things we cannot or should not have.
Richard L. Evans
Think about this.
Can you imagine a situation when you instantly get whatever you want? Would that make you happy?
Is there something you can think of that you did not get, yet it made you happier?
Are there things you want but don’t have? Do you think you can be happy without those things?
To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.
Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, and humor.