The “expecting our stuff to complete us” problem
We expect our stuff and our goals to give us a sense of satisfaction, a feeling of fullness. To enable us to rest, replete and complete:
“When I get this, I will be happy. When I get that, I can rest. When I do this, I can switch off and be at peace.”
Whatever — a pay rise, a new partner, losing some weight, the weekend … climbing a mountain, running a marathon, winning a championships … all the way through to justice and equality, fairness and righteousness reflected in our social structures — we need to happen so we can feel fulfilled, happy and at peace.
And it does!
But we NEED it — and that’s the trouble.
(This in NO way negates or belittles taking on a big challenge or making change in your life or in the world. Please don’t get me wrong, I see the world needs healing. I dream of a world where everyone has total peace. That’s why I’m a monk — and I love a new shiny thing too.)
The trouble is it’s not a want, it’s not a simple desire, we NEED it.
We believe if we obtain this thing then we will feel happier and better about ourselves. It seems to be worth bleeding for, because we think it’s the only way to get peace and happiness.
But what happens when what we want doesn’t happen? When we can’t control our world? When the unexpected and unwelcome come knocking? It’s so frustrating when you don’t get what you want: when peace and happiness is tied up in the outer world.
No wonder fulfilment seems elusive. We have little ability to choose to be content with the way things are … and that’s where we get stuck. And stressed. And life gets tough because it’s not MAKING us happy.
What can we do?
What I mean is, learn to be responsible for your own happiness, regardless of what is happening. Don’t let it be caused by anything external to you.
Practice freeing yourself from needing the world to look a certain way. Aim high — that’s important, but don’t NEED it.