26 December 2011

What We Have

How often do you start to focus on things that you want rather than things that you have?  How many times do you see something new that you would love to have, only to start feeling a bit down because you can’t afford it or don’t have room for it?  People in this world are very good at coming up with new things that somehow start us down the path of dissatisfaction once we start to focus on what we don’t have rather than on the things that we have already.

How much do you value all that you have in life right now?  How much do you appreciate the gifts and the people and the things in your life?  How often do you step back and look in an objective way at all of the cool and valuable things that are in your life, seeing them for the great parts of your life that they are?

The goal of marketers and advertisers is to make us lose our satisfaction in what we have so that we’ll go out and buy something that we don’t have.  If they can accomplish this, they can make more money for their companies.  If they get you to want a new car because yours isn’t big enough, then they’ve created dissonance in your life, and you’ll need to act to resolve that feeling if you want it to go away.  Unfortunately, the only way that most of us know how to deal with such dissonance is to buy the thing that we want, to attain the goods or materials that we think will make us more satisfied.  But we can also deal with that dissonance by realizing the source of our new desires or “needs,” and that can help us to stay more centered, more peaceful, in our lives.

If I’m on a diet, I want food.  If I give in to that desire, I put more calories into my body than the diet will stand, and my efforts to lose weight might have been wasted.  If I’m trying to save money and I want something new that I really don’t need, then all of my fiscal discipline will have been for naught once I buy something that ruins my budget, and all the rationalization in the world won’t make any difference.

Yes, we do have needs.  But just how many of our desires are based on needs?  My guess is that it’s a relatively small number.  Once we can start looking at what we have with a strong sense of appreciation and acceptance, then we can look at many of our other wants as simply that–wants.  And we can realize that fulfilling those wants won’t necessarily make us happier or more fulfilled people–rather, they can create other areas of regret in our lives due to having done something that certainly hasn’t helped us, and that may even cause us harm.

I have a great deal in life.  Sometimes, though, my focus shifts to things that I don’t have–but want–and then I lose sight of just how blessed I am to have what I do.  It’s a shame when that happens, but as I grow older I find that it happens much less.  And it’s always up to me to do what I can to continue to make it happen even less as time goes on.

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