The Dance Between Needs and Desires

April 15, 2009  
Filed under General Interest

Oscar Wilde once said, “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

In the Noble Truths, His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains that happiness essentially comes not from getting what we want, but from wanting what we get.

This poses the questions: “How do we know what we truly want… or what it is that will make us truly happy?” We’ve all, at one time or another, felt that we desperately needed or wanted something only to discover that: (1) Once we got it, it didn’t make us feel as happy or fulfilled as we thought it would, or (2) We didn’t get it and life went on anyway.

Then we have our conflicting philosophies about how we should handle our desires. If we take a materialistic viewpoint, we should try to satisfy all of our desires by accumulating massive quantities of money, possessions, power and social status. The media does plenty to help us along with this viewpoint by bombarding us with ad campaigns that reinforces and expands our desires for all sorts of things (raise your hand if you own an IPod and/or iPhone) and experiences.

Some religious/spiritual viewpoints teach us that our desires are sinful and will surely lead us down the road to hell. A core premise of the Buddhist philosophy is that desire – or rather “attachment” – is the cause of all suffering. On the other hand, New Age philosophies assure us that we can have everything we desire as long as we ask for it and are open to receiving it. Talk about inner conflict! So, do we pursue our heart’s desires, or do we let go of them.

Emotionally speaking, we’ve all experienced what it feels like to not get our needs met, or not have our desires fulfilled in life. To some degree, we’ve felt frustrated, disappointed, depressed, or hurt. If the pain has been great enough, we consciously or unconsciously, decide to protect ourselves from further emotional damage by either denying our wants/needs or giving up on them altogether.

We all know that there’s a difference between what we need, and what we desire. We need what is essential for our survival; food, clothing and shelter. Our desires are the things we feel will enhance and enrich our lives, in one way or another. Obviously, if our basic survival needs are not being met, our desires don’t really matter.

What is it that you truly want in life? What is most important to you, on all levels: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Write your list out and then look at each item one at a time and write about why it is important to you. Know exactly what you want and why you want it.

Our true desires come from our heart and soul, and not from the latest ad campaign. It’s our desires that guide us in life and motivates us to move forward on our path. The process of creating abundance in our lives rests on knowing what our needs and desires truly are, then consciously taking responsibility for our needs and desires. A part of us knows exactly what we need, and what we desire, any given moment. It’s also important to reach out to others and help them move forward in life. That old adage “the more you give, the more you get” holds true when creating abundance in your own life – the more you help other people get what they want out of life, the more, in turn, you will get what it is that you want.

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