Dying Daily #64: What We Want is Irrelevant

This one is muddled and feels incomplete, I think there is more here. I for sure didn’t manage to hit what I wanted to with it, I will have to revisit it later.

Why do we spend time worrying about what we want?

Why do we think wanting something makes it inherently good or worth pursuing?

How much suffering do we bring ourselves by focusing on what we want?

These are odd questions, I get that.

But think about it, why does wanting something make it necessary to pursue it?

All addiction seems to be is wanting something really, really badly and pursuing it at the cost of everything else in your life. If you ask someone who has an addiction why they are doing this, they will say something along the lines of “because I need it”. They believe this, but apart from very rare instances, they are not going to die without whatever “it” may be. They want it.

If the best answer we can come with for why we are doing something is “because I want it”, we may need to reassess our plans.

We don’t really do anything without wanting to, and we really cannot be forced to do anything. If someone puts a gun to your head and says drive me to Walmart so I can return my Redbox movie, they are not forcing you. You are choosing to drive them instead of getting shot in the head. You want to drive them to the Redbox more than you want to get shot.

Wanting things is good, it drives us and gives us something to do, but we make a mistake when we start to think that wanting something always means something. It tells us nothing about the value of what we want or if it will be good for us.

Learning to not get what we want is possibly the most useful thing in the world.

Some would say we just have to learn to sift between God-given or love-inspired or karmic wants and those that are base and tacky and all of that. I think it is interesting to try and dig down to the bottom of every want and see why it is there, and ask myself if it is worth my time or if it is a skillful choice.

Oftentimes, focusing on what we want just makes us less happy as it takes the focus away from what we have. Other times, it rests on a desire that might not be healthy or worthwhile for us, like craving sugar or alcohol or a relationship outside the one we have now. Many, many times what we want is irrelevant because it is not within our control to have it. My desire to live on the moon by myself is irrelevant, I don’t even have a way to get there.

What is something you want that drives you?

What does this want rest on – what is its basis? Is it healthy and good for you?

If it is not, how do you go about letting go of it?