One of the best lessons I have ever learnt was the difference between wants and needs. How many times do you hear people say “If I only had… more money, a better job, a new car, phone…” Then “I’d be this, that or the other!” Or most commonly “the stress would be gone and I’d be happy”.
Well there’s good news and bad around such proposals. The bad news is even if you had your hearts desire it wouldn’t make you happy. And the good news is you don’t need it to be happy! That’s not how life works!
Frequently people tell me if they HAVE something then they’ll DO something and then they’ll BE something. Like this. If I HAVE more money, I’ll be able to DO whatever I want and then I’ll BE happy. The trick is to reverse the equation
Make HAVE, DO, BE into BE, DO, HAVE
Chasing goals infers they are running away from you! Call me crazy but that strikes me as just plain pointless. There is a better way. Decide what you want and then prepare to receive it. It’s actually a three-step method but the middle step is not yours to take. You just look after the proposing and receiving.
I can hear the objections flying “That’s all good and well for you to say but I’ve got a mortgage to pay and mouths to feed”. I hear you loud and clear, I’m still in the same boat! Here is the trick, how much of what you are slaving to pay for can really be put under the heading NEEDS? And how much really belongs under WANTS.
There Are Very Few Real Needs
In reality very few items show up under needs. Abraham Maslow summed them up in 4 words; Food, Shelter and Company. Everything else is a want; the lack of which won’t kill you or any of your loved ones. Yes it really is that simple!
You don’t NEED that new car you WANT it. Oh OK your old car is busted up huh and there aren’t any buses OK move that one up the list of WANT’s and it is still a WANT because the lack of it won’t kill you. When you start looking at your life from this perspective asking yourself: What If I didn’t have this or that, what would that actually mean? Would my loved ones and I survive? What if I lost everything I owned, what then? I can give you an answer to that because I’ve been there.
Starting Over From Scratch
In 1997 I lost my businesses, my cars, my house I was wiped out financially and emotionally because along with losing my possessions I also lost my self respect and the respect of many colleagues and so called friends. If you want to know who your friends are try going broke! I still remember how liberating that was. Oh I didn’t learn what I should have, I had to go around one more time before I realised possessions don’t matter!
You see post the trauma of losing everything when I woke up in the morning the sun came up like every other day. The people I loved were with me and healthy. I was healthy I had a roof (albeit rented) over my head and we had food. That summer was tough we had to watch our kids sweltering in 35c+ heat looking enviously through the fence at the seldom-used swimming pool next door. We brought them a blow up child’s paddling pool because that’s all we could afford. Did it kill them? No. Was it tough? Yes! Were we happy? Here’s the killer YES until we started hungering after WANTS.
Unhappiness Comes From WANT
For me and may be for you unhappiness lies in the dissonance between where I am and what I have and where I WANT to be and what I WANT to have. The dissonance creates struggle and a sense of “missing out” AKA envy.
Do the exercise, stop and make a list of what your wants and needs are. Then ask yourself what happens if I don’t have the wants? Then chill! The thing is the Universe/God wants you to have everything but most of all it wants you to know you have the right to everything. It wants you to have the courage to let go of the steering wheel believing you have a natural right to what you desire and if it doesn’t turn up well the journey’s not finished. Relax BE happy NOW. Remove from your life the pressures that stop you from being happy now by letting go of the struggle to hang on to or obtain Things you Think you Need that, at best, are a high priority WANT.
“Be Still And Know That I am God” is my personal mantra (Note: My personal definition of God is the combined will of all sentient beings that ever have been or will be) it goes on “and you are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased”. I consciously stop myself from stressing about what I don’t have and or what I have to do. I avoid time travel in my head by accepting what has happened and not thinking about what I can only deal with tomorrow. This means I have 100% of my faculties in the now. I literally just do what shows up and it works. I now spend my life Being who I am and living the consequences. AND I’m Happy. Just saying.