Desire and suffering
Everybody who comes to me has a desire. Usually, they want to be more effective in their business or in their lives. Many have spent years trying and failing to change their lives, pushed by a burning desire that is starting to leave scorch marks on their mental health.
For some, that's simple drive, but for others the need for more becomes overwhelming: “Nothing is right. I have to change everything: get fitter, get richer so I can buy a bigger home, and just make my life better. Doing all of this is impossible.”
Everything from the phone in our hand to the billboards we pass is telling us we can have a better life. It’s so easy to internalize this desire without consciously choosing it, leaving us with desire for everything, even if we can’t tell anyone why we want it.
Do you feel like your life is just wrong, without being able to point to anything specific? Have you found ways of combating the ever-present desire in your life?
The answer isn’t to give up and stop wanting things. That just leaves us sterile and unproductive, which does not create happiness. Instead, investigate your desires to see which is worth the unhappiness it will create until you achieve. Then, create an achievable goal that ends your contract of unhappiness.
Buddha said, ‘Desire is suffering.’, but in ‘Tools of the Titan’, Tim Ferriss explains desire this way: ‘Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.’
When you start to understand your desire, where it comes from and where it’s leading you, you can step back from it and evaluate what’s it’s doing to you, and your life. Is all this desire worth the unhappiness? That’s a question only you can answer.
For example, wanting to do better in business isn’t enough. You will find every morning that you wake up, the goalposts will have moved further and further down the field. That desire will only lead to unhappiness.
But, if your goal is to create a business you can sell to fund a year with your family, then that goal is achievable, and for many the unhappiness that comes with it will be worth the price.
Don’t let unachievable or unworthy goals shred your happiness. Investigate every one, and allow room in your life for peace.