Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Not About the Desire

by: Niloofar Shahmohammadi

What do you want most in life?  What do you fantasize and daydream about having?  Is it an expensive car?  A significant other?  More money?  A nicer house?  A more interesting job?  A prettier face?  A trimmer body?  Read on to find out why your true desire might be something other than what you think.

What if I told you that there’s a brand new HOUSE behind door #1!!?  It’s yours RIGHT NOW!  How would you be feeling? Elated?

But wait! 

What if I told you that this brand new house, beautiful and expensive as it is, is going to cause you more headaches than you can even imagine.  It’s so big that you spend most of your time trying to keep all 500 rooms clean, your neighbors are pompous jerks and now you’re a constant target of theft.  Would you still want your multimillion-dollar mansion? 



Ok…let’s say you really really want a significant other.  What if I told you that the heavens just opened up and dropped your twin flame out of the sky and she’s waiting for you behind door #2?  How would you be feeling?

Now hold your horses! 

What if I told you that this girl, as perfect as she is for you, is going to bring about terrible anxiety? You’re going to have to explore all kinds of deep wounds you didn’t even know you had.  Oh and I told you that you’re going to be plagued with a constant fear of losing her, right? Still sure you want to meet her? 


Ok, ok…just wait until you see what’s behind door #3!  A BRAND NEW BODY!!  Complete with a new face and a year’s supply of dog food! Are you screaming up and down like a maniac yet? 

Not so fast! 

What if I told you that everyone is going to be jealous of your new looks….people are going to be mean to you….romantic partners are going to use you….you won’t be able to trust anyone anymore and you will eventually fall into a deep depression for which there is no cure.  Still sure you’re ready to trade in your thunder thighs?


Well this is so odd.  I could have sworn you really really wanted these things!

This just goes to show that it’s never about the desire itself.  It’s never about the new car or the new face or the new boobs or the new dinette set.  Those desires are just symbols. What it’s really about is the feeling that you hope will come with that tangible thing or person.  If you found out that the object or person would not bring you that feeling you wouldn’t want the object or person anymore. 

In other words, the desire is just a means to an end.  And the “end” is always a feeling.

In fact, our entire society, the entire world, revolves around people trying to feel (or not feel!) a feeling.  Notice from now on how everything you do, even the simplest things like scratching an itch or making a sandwich, is motivated by this desire. It could be the desire to relieve boredom, to feel superior, to feel safe, to feel joyful, to feel special, to feel loved…or it could be the desire to avoid feeling sad, avoid feeling alone, to suppress anxiety.  But in the end, almost every action you take, almost every dream you dream, large or small, is to achieve this one goal.  Even the most logical, mathematical-minded, unemotional, cerebral egghead, is still doing things (maybe even to his or her surprise!) to feel or avoid feeling a feeling!

The truth of the matter, however, is that most of the time, if you don’t already feel that way inside, then that “thing” is not going to change your mood except maybe very temporarily.  That is why we get so excited when we get a new “toy” only to get tired of it after a while and start searching for a new one.  Several psychological studies have shown time and time again that people overestimate how happy they will be when something they desired finally happens.  There is an initial spike in happiness…but eventually the person goes back to his or her happiness “set point.” We are constantly looking to something “out there” to bring us joy, but if we don’t feel joy within, then nothing out there will ever be able to fill up that void.

I’ve met many people who tell me, “Well, but I know material things won’t buy happiness.  I don’t need lots of money or a nice car.  I’m focused on people and relationships, and doing something meaningful with my life.  I know that’s what’s important.”

The problem is that, often, this person has not really dealt with the root feeling of “The Void”, but rather has just substituted one drug for another.  While society might deem the desire for “healthy relationships” and “meaningful life’s work” a more noble goal than money or material things, as long as you are using a significant other or a career to fill the inner emptiness and avoid the disconnection in your heart, you will be sorely disappointed.

In fact, there is proof of this every day in the tabloids and entertainment magazines. 

If beauty brought happiness…then why are so many beautiful models and actresses such a train wreck?  And why do their boyfriends and husbands cheat on them? 

If money brought happiness why are so many of these celebrities turning to drugs or otherwise appear mentally unstable?

If a partner brought happiness (a beautiful rich partner at that!) then why have most celebrities been married and divorced about 17 times?

I once heard a therapist talking about how his favorite clients are the rich and beautiful ones because they at least know that money and beauty is not the answer.  What many don’t realize is that money will not take away the inner emptiness.  It will not heal your relationshipsMost importantly, it will not heal your relationship with yourself.  Now you’ll just be the same depressed person except in a bigger house with a nicer car on a pretty island somewhere. It can almost make you feel worse, because that’s when you think “If even after all this I’m not happy…if this is not the answer….then what is?!?”
But that can also be the moment where you have your breakthrough.  “Wow, it was never about any of this stuff….it was just about feeling happy inside.” 

And the happy inside feeling can only come from one place.  Can you guess where? (this is not a trick question!)


Just remember the next time you are coveting something...that what you’re really wanting is the feeling that you think goes with it…and believe it or not, that feeling is available to you right here.  Right now.  The only thing preventing you from experiencing it is the LIE you’ve told yourself that you must first have this “thing”.

It is important to note that there is nothing wrong with desires, but there is something wrong with **attachment** to desires and thinking that a desire will bring happiness or peace.  Ask yourself what the root feeling you want is and then tell yourself “I could have that feeling right now.  I don’t need the object.  I’ve been lying to myself.”

And ONLY when you’ve become a joyful person here and now, will any of those outside things bring you any pleasure.

“But what is all this about joy inside?  Why don’t I feel it?  Can I just have the house behind door #1?”  The answers to that and more in next Tuesday’s article.

For now, happy letting go of your attachments! 

It’s Not About: the desire
It is About: the feeling

*If what you wanted really brought happiness, then people who had this thing would be happy and peaceful…are they?

*Nothing outside of you can make you happy, not even non-material things like a person or a satisfying job

*Stop lying to yourself and telling yourself that the ONLY way you can have the feeling you want is by getting the object or person you associate with it. 

*Happiness is always available to you right here right now in the just have to open up to it.