The big “if only.” You think that perfect job is still waiting for you out there. That your soul mate is just waiting to bump into you around the next corner or at the next coffee shop you visit. That dream vacation in Tahiti or the Cocos Islands would solve all your woes.
If all your dreams came true right now, and you got everything you ever wanted, would you finally be happy?
If you think that getting everything you want is the answer to your happiness, think again.
Good Fortune Has Side Effects
Fame, fortune, and immaculate beauty all have side effects. Divorce courts, rehab centers, and prisons are full of people who have it “all.” When everyone loves you, you can buy whatever you want, and people only desire you for your boobs, your jaw line, or your perfect abs, life can get pretty desolute. We are meant to thrive spiritually, and even when all our material needs are met, there is something inside of us that wants more. That more can’t be defined in material objects, or even the longing of millions of adoring fans.
We live in a culture that defines success through gold diggers, paparazzi, critics and competitions, bank accounts, athletic prowess, and physical perfection, but this breeds vanity and superficiality. True joy cannot exist in these fictional bubbles of false reality.
External, Material Validation Isn’t Real
Our physical world isn’t real. Quantum physicists have discovered that atoms are only vortexes of energy spinning in and out of our conscious awareness.
Anything you experience right now is just a fabrication of your consciousness, playing out on the holographic movie screen of your mind.
While we covet material validation, even cling to the notion that our bodies are physical (when they aren’t), this is like a mountain asking an ant to validate its existence.
James Hillman’s archetypal psychology suggests that everything we see, we perceive through an image, maybe a narrative from our past, the accepted interpretations of our culture, our family stories and values, or some deep pattern in all human lives like being a mother, father, or child.
The world physically exists, and so do we, but only as temporary energy forms. If you don’t like what you see you have the power to change it. Coveting something else or recoiling from it simply denies what you loathe and love within yourself. Change that energy, and your reality will change, too. It’s all a complicated, fascinating illusion.
Expecting something outside of yourself to please you is your imagination wishing on an illusion.
Joy, Not the Thing (Person, Circumstance) is What You Seek
Can you practice being happy for no reason?
Here’s a test.
Are you calm and happy when:
- The stock market takes a dump
- You get fired from your job
- Your best friend “unfriends” you on Facebook
- Your girlfriend or boyfriend tells you they want to break up
If these occurrences disturb your deep inner peace, you know you’ve built a false architecture for happiness. Know that nothing is eternal, and associate with your soul, instead of your place in the world.
Oddly, when you’ve stopped depending on tangible, external rewards, they often materialize anyhow. To attract something you want, become as joyful as you think that thing would make you. The joy, not the thing, is the whole point.
Craving is Just the Flip Side of Aversion – Both Forms of Attachment
Many wizened souls will tell you that craving and aversion are the cause of all suffering. What we covet and what we recoil from – what we reject and what we embrace – all arise from the egoic mind that mistakenly believes the “I-ness” of itself.
When we try to avoid the stuff we don’t like or find repulsive, we are seriously uncomfortable. We become seriously anxious, unhappy, reticent, dissatisfied and even angry.
But look what happens while we are waiting for the things that we crave. Before we get the thing, person, or circumstance that we want, we still have no peace. We are usually full of dissatisfaction, just as when we were averse to certain people or situations.
When we finally avoid the stuff we don’t like, we usually still have memories of the pain it caused us. When we finally get the things we coveted, we cling to them and fear their loss. These two ends of the spectrum –craving and aversion – cause endless vexation. The push and pull of Samsara.
Here’s what the Buddha said about attachment:
“Monks, any desire-passion with regard to form is a defilement of the mind. Any desire-passion with regard to feeling… perception… fabrications… consciousness is a defilement of the mind. When, with regard to these five bases, the defilements of awareness are abandoned, then the mind is inclined to renunciation. The mind fostered by renunciation feels malleable for the direct knowing of those qualities worth realizing.”
You can even observe what these two emotions do to the body. We get smaller. Our muscles contract. Our breathing becomes agitated. Our hearts close.
In a way, we are all addicts, even if it isn’t to an illicit substance, food, or just material gain. If you pay attention you’ll notice habits of craving and aversion in almost everything you do.
As we take note of all the ways we create on our discontent with attachment, we can let loose our grip, and wake up. This allows true joy to blossom.
This article (4 Reasons Getting Everything You Want Isn’t What You Really Want) is a free and open source and can be re-published anywhere with proper attribution to the author and Themindunleashed.com.
Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]