Unrestricted satisfaction of all desires is not conducive to well-being, nor is it the way to happiness or even to maximum pleasure.
Joy, then, is what we experience in the process of growing nearer to the goal of becoming ourselves.
Erich Fromm, To Have or To Be?
Getting what we want does not make us happy.
Even if it did seem to make us happy, that feeling wouldn’t last.
What we long for is not happiness, but joy.
Our childhood fantasy of endless supplies of candy seemed like paradise.
But we realize now that this would be closer to hell if we had only candy for food.
Not only would we eventually die from malnutrition, but we would also be robbed of the fleeting pleasure a bite of candy once produced.
Having things does not produce lasting happiness.
But even experiences can be perverted into possessions.
This is expressed in the saying, “Been There. Done That. Bought the T-shirt.”
Experiences become something to be checked off a list.
It is tempting to try to capture an experience.
But that only prevents us from enjoying it.
We want to be present at the party, not try to capture it on our phone.
We want to take in the exhibits at the museum, not rush through just to say we saw a particular work of art.
We want to connect with people, not just collect their business cards and add them to our contacts.
When we put our energy into getting and having, we set ourselves up for frustration and dissatisfaction.
Instead, if we focus on being and becoming, we enjoy much richer lives.
The joy we long for comes as a byproduct of our journey toward becoming the person we were meant to be.
The distinction between having and being shows up in some surprising places.
If we see learning as getting knowledge, we put our energy into collecting information.
We take extensive notes without completely understanding the subject.
If our focus is on learning as an active process, we engage with the topic and ask probing questions.
If we have friends, we treat them as possessions.
If, instead, we are connecting with them as individuals, we both have room to grow along with the friendship.
Don’t have a great day.
Instead, be present and enjoy this day as you grow into the person you were meant to be.
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