The Pattern of Wanting More
If your goal is to have more happiness in your life, you must look at the role of desire and attachment. Are you gripped by the idea of getting a bigger house, higher paying job, or perfect partner? Are you on an endless chase to acquire things or situations that you think will bring you bliss or relief? Have you noticed that once you gratify a desire, another usually pops up? Do your desires end up making you miserable? Have you made the connection yet that this is not the answer to lasting happiness?
Happiness Is Experienced When You Find a Higher Purpose
It is the experience of filling a karmic, higher purpose that allows us to let go of the obsessive pursuit of external things and circumstances. Suffering is when we repeat the pattern, without gaining clarity and perspective. Buddhism uses the word ‘tanha’ or ‘thirst’ for desires that crave and cling to expectation and attachment. A low desire (possessions, money, people, fame, etc) can become like an addiction where satisfaction will never come, unless more is provided – this is the pattern of the never-ending chain of suffering. A good or higher desire (better understanding, compassion or remembering your truth) us striving for improvement, whether it be in service to others or personal. Both are based in desire.
The Connection of Karma and Desire
Desires that don’t serve your higher purpose are not going to disappear from your life entirely. Desire is a natural part of being human. Wanting something is not “wrong” or unnatural. It’s how we recognize, explore, and process desire that contributes to its impact on your life. There are many belief systems and teachings that suggest desire is based on karma, something you are born with in this lifetime. The Hindus call it the garland of karma. You have a set of desires that were unfulfilled in a past life and because they were unfulfilled, you have come into this life again. If you have a driving desire to do something that will not harm others, you must fulfill it. If not, the karmic wheel will continue to bring you back here until you have that experience. If you repress a driving desire, it will only pop up again and again. It is one of the pearls on your chain (garland).
Decoupling Self-Worth from Having More Stuff
One of the best things that we can do is to consciously detach from ‘things.’ Resisting desire is especially challenging since there is a global culture of consumerism that admires and celebrates wealth, even when it is destructive to the larger common good. Some people are literally killing themselves to acquire more and more. Greed has worked its way into our society, so much so that at times we don’t even recognize it for what it is. It’s difficult to know what we can do to help fight against this tide. It begins with how you look at and process desire in your own life. It is only then that you can begin to help change the world around you for the better.
What does ‘doing with less’ mean to you? Is your sense of self-worth and security tied to things? If you had to give up many of your possessions, how would you feel? No one is suggesting that we can go from having a lot to a monastic existence. Start small.
What can you let go of? Are you attached to the goals and objectives in your life, or are they aspirations that will truly fulfill you? What is your ego and what is your true self? Try to separate the two. During the course of your life, you are bound to lose a fair amount of what you have convinced yourself is necessary. You cannot control this. What you can control is your attachment to desire. Less baggage will make you lighter and it will be much easier to travel through your life. We all arrive here on this earth with nothing, and we leave it in the same state.
List the things you feel you need in your life.
- List the things you want. Go over each one and ask yourself how you believe it will change something you want to address. Think about the emotion behind the desire. Explore what you bring to the table in terms of your past that has shaped your desires.
- If there were things you received which you desired in your life, that turned out much differently than you first expected, write them down and acknowledge them.
- List what you feel are your higher desires. Then list the lower desires. What could you add to the first list? How can you begin to make changes to the second?
There is a pocket book series I have created called GET A GRIP that deals with topics such as happiness, desire, addiction, anxiety etc. I encourage you to explore the ones that resonate with you, so you can gain deeper insights and strategies that can help you overcome even the toughest challenges in your life.
Derek O’Neill, fondly referred to as the Celtic Sage, inspires and uplifts people from all walks of life, offering guidance to influential world leaders, businesses, celebrities, athletes and everyday people alike. Distilled from his life work in psychotherapy, a martial arts career and study with wise yogis and Indian and Tibetan masters, Derek translates ancient wisdom into modern day teachings to address the biggest challenges facing humanity today. For additional insights on decoding dreams listen to his free radio archives ordownload his book HAPPINESS – YOU MUST BE YOU EFFIN’ JOKIN’?.
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