TODAY’S EDITION IS A BIT LONGER THAN USUAL. GRACE, PLEASE.
Good morning, Monday friends! I hope you are well today and wherever you are the storms of last night didn’t harm you or your community. Be safe today. Let’s get to it!
Recently I was introduced to the work of Suzman, who has lived with and learned from the last tribes of hunter-gatherers on earth for the past 25 years. As all cultures on earth move towards the Euro-American ideal of consumerism and consumption the hunter-gatherer life remains a fragile hold out. Among the many lessons we can learn from their culture is the victory over “wants” and connection to “happiness”.
Perhaps the one word from my children that has troubled me most is “want”: I want this, I want that. “Want” is worse than “no” at least in my mind. As my children became aware of our culture of consumption and satisfaction they mastered the language of “want” as most children do. Yet to be honest they learned the language from their parents, friends, teachers, leaders, society, etc. The language of “want” is our way. I’m not beating up on my kids; I’m using the easiest and most clear example, like a petri dish.
Yet observing their behaviors I noticed the connection between their wants and apparent happiness. If a “want” was met once it arose then happiness ensued, if but for a moment, but if the “want” was not met unhappiness ensued. Think about that result for a moment: in a space where a moment prior nothing at all existed, once a mental “want” arose and emotion was attached to it happiness hung in the balance. Over nothing… I marveled, until I noticed it in myself, and my wife, and everyone else. Then I became a bit depressed.
As adults we may have nearly mastered our physical wants (or essentially met them), but we have developed our mental wants. As adults we call them “expectations”. “I want you to do or be (or the negative) this or that.” When persons don’t live up to our expectations (mental “wants”) notice how happiness ebbs and flows. Over nothing but an internal desire that has no connection to reality.
Many studies have been experienced that connect simplicity and happiness. Consistently we see that the happiest people around us are those persons with simpler lives, fewer wants and precious few needs. The pinnacle of this line is the hunter-gatherer or perhaps the monk. None of us will approach the pinnacle but we must ask ourselves to which end of the spectrum are we headed? In a culture nearly devoid of lasting happiness, are we seeking it in more consumption or in less desire? The evidence is clear which way we should go and equally clear the opposite direction we are headed.
* How would your life be different with fewer wants?
* What does chasing your wants do to you?
* What would a week without a focus on wants look like for you?
We all would like more “happiness”. Books, talks, gurus, they all want to get us “there”. Perhaps “there” is already in you just masked by a cloud of “wants”. Pay attention to the direction you’re headed. Consider your experience of being a “want” chaser. Imagine trading fewer and less “wants” with more and greater “happiness”. It may seem paradoxical, but what has a life of chasing gotten you? Anecdotes of temporary happiness until the next “want” arises. You dream of better than this, and you can do it! I have great faith in you.
Thanks for the grace of patience with me today. I did my best to be brief and failed. I hope you found a nugget of help and encouragement today. Have a wonderful week!