You Can’t Always Get What You Want
It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.
As children, we think we know what we want.
We beg our parents to buy us some toy that we saw advertised on TV. (Nowadays that would be YouTube.)
Once we get the object of our desire, it fails to produce the nirvana we had envisioned.
Sometimes, the disappointment is immediate: “This is it?”
Other times, we quickly become bored and abandon the item in the corner of our closet.
We also want to participate in activities that seem exciting and enjoyable. Usually something that “everyone else is doing.”
But our mean parents don’t allow us that freedom because they understand that the risk is too great for the anticipated reward.
We think we know what we want but we really don’t.
This continues into our adolescence.
But around our 26th birthday, the executive function of our brains is fully developed, and we have a deep understanding of want we really want.
Well, not exactly.
We still must have things that end up in the corner of our closets, and we find ourselves participating in activities that we later regret.
It doesn’t get better as we become full-time adults.
We now have the added problem that our obligations and responsibilities have left little room for wants.
We are told that our wants are selfish and that we should focus instead on our needs.
So, we concentrate on advancing our careers, only to wake up one day and realize that we never really wanted to be a lawyer/nurse/teacher/accountant/salesperson.
Parenting also has a way of leaving us with little time and energy to think about what we want.
We’re adults after all.
Even the Rolling Stones tell us that we might have to settle for what we need.
The solution is not to want less.
What we need is to want more accurately.
We think we want the latest smartphone, but our real desires are something much deeper.
We long for meaning and purpose. We desire intimacy in our relationships. We seek a balance between stability and novelty in our lives.
It’s not wrong to want a new pair of shoes.
But it is a mistake to think that those shoes are going to give meaning and purpose to our lives.
Begin today to ask yourself what you really want. The answer will not come instantly. It takes time to develop the self-awareness required.
Then give yourself permission to intentionally pursue those wants.
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