I don’t know if this happens in your house too but my children are possessed by the spirit of what ELSE they can have – Lego or food or sweets or activities or, or or…
My child for example, who is naturally more materially focused, knows which Lego set he wants. Oh how he knows. He looks at the booklet, discusses the virtues of the sets, fantasises about owning them and sets his sights on one. Then begins a long process of begging, pleading, saving his money, calculating birthday presents and other ways to obtain his desire. We hear about it over and over.
Then one miraculous day, the set is his. The excitement is high, he’s almost overwhelmed with it all. He builds it, he plays with it, breaks it up, builds it again, tells us all about it, shows us what it does… for about half a day and then he’s talking about the virtues of a different set.
Yes it’s all very nice to have this one, he tells us, and he’s happy and excited, but if he had that other one then it would really be great.
In our capitalist culture it’s hard to avoid this kind of attitude. It is really normal as humans to set our sights on a goal and once we’ve achieved it look for the next goal. Very normal and healthy. What upsets me is the speed at which the dissatisfaction sets in and the fact that the moment of joy is so short-lived – and not totally satisfactory even while it’s happening. That’s because he’s relying on something external to provide his joy and satisfaction. I don’t mind him wanting stuff but it hurts me to watch him look outside of himself for his happiness.
And of course we never become upset about something unless it is hooking into our own wounds, therefore this must hurt me because it’s reflecting something in my own self.
What could it be?
I recently wrote this to myself in my journal (which means I had to remind myself of it), “When this desire is manifested there will be another one, so I’m going to just slow down and enjoy the unfolding of this one.”
So me and my child, mirrors again.
It’s a slow learning that that finding joy and satisfaction, or feeling better than we do now, is not reliant on anything out there. Our society keeps trying to trick us into believing that a new thing will make us feel better or will make us a different person. “When I get that promotion / that relationship / a child / money / a house / quit my job then I won’t have to be me, dealing with this same stuff and feeling these same feelings. It will fix me.” Our head may know this to be false but our heart… oh our heart longs for it like it’s that new Lego set. But no new Lego set is going to bring and keep the good feeling we seek. As soon as we get that set, we see that we are still who we were before the Lego set was achieved. Life as ourselves still goes on. What a bummer!
That good feeling we seek has to come from this moment right now – even if this moment is totally crap. It’s the only thing that will really make you feel better. Being IN right now. There’s beauty to be found even in a crap moment but mostly it’s that simply being present to a moment immediately makes you feel better – no matter what.
I want myself and my children to realise that the gift of living this life is in being present to the experience of right now. We are constantly bombarded with the message that the right handbag or outfit or job or income or meditation technique is what we need to have ‘made it’ yet we all know that these are not what make people genuinely happy.
There will always be plenty of things to desire, plenty of ways to grow and ‘improve’ ourselves and our lives. Can we stop agonising about what we don’t have yet and enjoy what we have in this moment? Then, when we do get a new thing we wanted it’s just an additional thing to enjoy – but we weren’t relying on getting it to feel enjoyment or satisfaction.
Find your joy in this moment. Start right now.
Pass this on to inspire your friends to enjoy all the good stuff they already have.
“Don’t be the fisherman’s wife” is becoming a code phrase in our family and it’s an instant focusing device for Ella, who nods and goes off to enjoy what IS. Very nice to see it work.
That’s so cool. Thanks for the idea. Stories are such a deep way to teach and explore. I think I may start to use it. Will read them the story again tonight and then bash them with it 😀
Here’s a link to the story if anyone wants. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm019.html