We get unhealthily attached to wanting

I posted recently that we can get unhealthily attached to desire, especially where we feel something is lacking or missing or that we expect something from another. One difficulty with being attached to desire and wanting is that there’s no room for being, for acceptance of what is. We’re not at peace.

Our society is organised around desire. We want more, bigger, better. What we have isn’t enough. We want a new car, house, possessions, material goods, holidays and other things that for a short while fulfill our need, until we’re back on the hook with something else. In coaching, when I ask people what they want from life it is usually materially described. We don’t see that we’re caught in a cycle of desire, hoodwinked into feeling we’ll feel good this way.

You can’t take your possessions to heaven. They don’t such things there. When you die, what you’ve accumulated materially gets left behind, carved up amongst your heirs if they’re lucky. Then you become just like the next person. I was telling a successful businessman recently that he couldn’t take his business empire with him. We even talked about how he could conduct his conversation with St Peter at the Pearly Gates, or whatever your belief system, and when he asks what you’ve done with your life, you might say you’ve made a lot of money. St Peter (or whoever) might then ask what you will do with that now.

It can be quite sobering for people who have striven all these years to realise that what they’ve achieved is of no use going forward. This is something many a redundant employee realises when nobody will employ him or her. What was the point?

We want a relationship too. We most of us want someone else in our lives. Love is what it’s all about. At the higher level, that is true, but not at the level we humans frame it. We don’t like being alone. Many of us fear it. So we want another, to fill the gap inside. We want company. We want sex. We want what comes from coupledom. One of the biggest contributors to happiness is relationship, so Positive Psychology tells us. So there’s merit in seeking a good relationship and staying with it. Except that’s not what happens for many people, for example when they seek it to fill a deficit need, because we then don’t get satisfied through relationship. What happens when we lose our partner, or don’t get one in the first place? What happens when our partner doesn’t show up for us in the way we want? What happens when they don’t meet our needs, or we’re too heavily invested in trying to meet their needs? Yet, relationship is a great way to find the Oneness of Life, if we choose to look there.

At one level, desire is a natural part of us. We do have needs to fulfill, as Maslow pointed out, like security, food, shelter, love and fulfillment. Yet at another level we get unhealthily attached to it and allow it to drive us. Thus we don’t experience peace and stillness. It gets in the way of being in the moment and at One with life, as the meditator will know. Go within, be still and focus on your breath, and then very often you’ll find your mind is off on some desire-related thought. It is the great interrupter of inner peace. This is one reason why mindfulness teaches acceptance of what is.