I spent some time
this week three months ago thinking about the question, “why is it so hard to keep wanting something after I have it?” It’s taken this long to finish writing about it because I was waiting until I had “all the answers”. But that’s a topic for another post.
So. Back to “why is it so hard to keep wanting something after I have it?”
Sometimes, it’s because of differences between what I imagined it would be like, and what it is like in reality. Kind of like when little kids see animated Lego planes fly around on commercials, and think the actual Lego plane is going to fly too. They talk their parents into buying it. Then, boom! Fantasy meets reality in a big crash landing.
Other times, though, things really are just the way I had imagined they’d be but still leave me wanting. So there must be another cause. What I realized is that the fantasy/reality discrepancy exists not just externally, in the wanted item, but internally in the wanting itself. What I think I want may be an incomplete or inaccurate identification of what I really want.
As an example, sometimes I think I am hungry, so I want food. I go to the kitchen but either nothing looks good, or I start to eat a little of something and suddenly lose my appetite completely. After a while it occurs to me that what I really am is thirsty, and I want something to drink. Having the food I “wanted” left me wanting, even though the food was exactly as I expected it to be, because food is not going to satisfy thirst.
Contentment is the result of not only having what you want, but wanting what you have. Knowing what you really want before you get it is the first step toward contentment.