Whether we’re yearning for another cup of coffee or a better job, we spend a lot of time and energy just wanting. Here’s how to observe – and calm – the endless tide of want that can catch us in its undertow.
Take a moment and answer the question, “What do I want?” For now, don’t even bother with the grand version of that question — as in, “What do I want out of life?” — just take inventory of what you’re wanting right this minute. It probably won’t take long for you to come up with a whole slew of possibilities: A job promotion? A nap? Better task lighting in the kitchen? More time with your loved ones? All of the above?
OK, now turn the question around: What do you have? And does it make you happy?
If you’re like most people, you can rattle off the first list pretty easily. But you may find it a little harder to describe what you already have that brings you happiness. This is because our brains are constantly seeking excitement, enhancement, achievement and plain old pleasure — and we live in a culture that promises all of the above, 24/7.
These are the desires of “the wanting mind.” They’re not without value — a sense of striving allows us to pursue our dreams — but the drive for more and better has a dark side. “The wanting mind cannot be satisfied,” explains Vicki Robin, coauthor of Your Money or Your Life (Penguin, 1999). “As soon as you get the ‘more,’ you want still more, and that thought in and of itself will cause dissatisfaction.”
This insatiable mind is a breeding ground for unhappiness, in large part because it keeps us from focusing on our true values, explains Brent Kessel, author of It’s Not About the Money: Unlock Your Money Type to Achieve Spiritual and Financial Abundance (HarperCollins, 2008). “When you’re constantly distracted by this part of you that just wants to feel good — better than you feel now — you tend not to focus your resources on your deepest desires, the ones that are really heartfelt.”
SURE SIGNS OF THE WANTING MIND
The wanting mind is always with us, but by cultivating awareness of its cravings, we can move beyond its grasp. Here are some sure signs of the wanting mind — and some tips on how to combat it.
Sign No. 1: Complaining
The wanting mind complains: It’s too hot, too cold, too crowded, too boring. When you’re tempted to complain, consider: What is good or potentially useful about where you are right now? What good can you make, find or share? Gratitude is the opposite of complaint. Cultivate it.
Sign No. 2: Cravings
Whether its food, a beer or that cute bracelet, the things we crave take up a lot of space in our consciousness. Brent Kessel, an author of It’s Not About the Money (HarperCollins, 2008), suggests we try to let at least one craving pass unfulfilled every day. Just sit with the craving, acknowledging it completely without doing anything about it. The first thing you’ll feel, he says, may be anxiety, grief or regret. But after that will come to a sense of freedom and empowerment that comes from knowing “you’re not really a slave to your cravings.”
Sign No. 3: Obsessing About the Future
The wanting mind is future-oriented, always making plans for what happens next. If you find yourself focused on tomorrow, take stock of the present moment instead. Get your five senses involved in your experience of the here and now. Revel in the sensual pleasures of life. Pause and notice your breathing. Put your focus on something — anything — that you can find right or good in the moment.
Aforementioned, Wanting mind is your process to achieve more; however, can lead to certain unwanted troubles or huddles causing you mentally or physically injured. So be aware of your wants and needs.
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