“What’s it like to be me without wanting?”
I let these words sink in for a few moments. What a powerful question!
I was watching a video by Robert Holden, Ph.D., author, teacher, host of an online radio show on Hay House called “Shift Happens,” and creator of the first Happiness Project, funded by the National Health Service in the U.K. in 1994. The video was a very informative and, at times hilarious, TEDx Findhorn speech called The Tea Ceremony. I’ve been a fan of Robert’s for several years now. Aside from his soft, adorable accent and his endearing sense of humor, Robert’s entire career has been about teaching people how to love and be loved, and how to be happy. Every once in a while, however, he stops me in my tracks with something so profound that I have to step back and examine it … and do some very deep soul searching. This was one of those times.
What’s it like to be me without wanting? At first, I thought how impossible that would be until I separated out the idea of “needs” vs “wants.” So I eliminated basic “needs” like food, shelter, clothing, meaningful employment and rest, which left “wants.” Had I missed anything? What about love? Is love a “want” or a “need?” I decided that is was definitely a “need.” Studies had proven that children who are not loved do not thrive as they should. So if we added love to the “needs” list, what was there left to want?
I started a list of the most common things that people usually say they want. It looked something like this:
- the perfect partner
- the perfect body
- career advancement
- the perfect house
- a nice car
- to be happy
I looked at the list and decided that it was a pretty fair representation of what the majority of people strive to attain in their lives, their wants. Then I noticed that one item on the list wasn’t something to get, but something to be – happy. Happiness is a state of being, not a state of having.
I decided to devote one whole day to just being happy. As long as my basic needs were met, was it possible to go through a whole day without wanting and just “be”? As it turned out, it was much harder to do than you would think. oh, sure, there were moments when my mind said things like: “I want cup of coffee, ” or, “I want to read my new book,” or things to that effect. Those things were not life changing thoughts, just representations of a normal, daily life. However, what did surprise me was how many times during the day that I found my thoughts wandering into the realm of “want” as something that I thought would make my life more acceptable not only to others, but mostly to myself.
Here are a few examples:
- Looking through a magazine, I was taken by what I thought was the “perfect” love seat for my TV/reading area and I felt myself really and truly “wanting” it (was it for comfort, or to impress people who came to visit me?).
- During my morning walk I passed by someone’s front garden and “wanted” to be able to have one just like it (“want” equaled “jealousy”).
- While putting on my sneakers to go out, I decided I “wanted” a new pair, not because the old ones were no longer serviceable, but because I “wanted” ones that were more fashionable (“wanting” a better self-image).
- Standing in front of my refrigerator, which was full from my shopping trip the day before, I decided that what I really “wanted” was some fried rice and veggies from the Chinese restaurant down the block (was I really hungry, or simply not satisfied with what I had?).
- Sitting at my desk writing, I looked up and out of the window for a moment and spotted a car going by, the exact make, model and color that I have “wanted” for quite a while. I even caught myself thinking: “That’s MY car they’re driving!” (that one felt like it encompassed all of the above!).
Some of these might sound like little things to you, and maybe they were, but the idea was that it is from wanting these little things that we graduate to wanting the big things, things we think we must have in order to have a perfect, happy life. The idea behind this experiment was not to learn about getting a perfect life, it was about learning what a happy, contented life was – a life without wants; a life that was about gratitude, acceptance, and – dare I say it – authenticity. Our authentic lives do not come with new clothes, new cars or perfectly manicured gardens. They come whole and complete just as they are, just as we do.
This week, as we work on our writing assignment over on the Home Page, I invite you to ask yourself the same question: “What’s it like to be me without wanting?” Can you go a whole day without wanting things beyond your basic needs and daily living? I think you’re going to come to some interesting conclusions about yourself and about the authentic life that you want to create. As always, have fun and keep writing!
Peace and blessings.