I’m not talking about relationships, family or friends. That is a whole different story. Everyone wants love and happiness in this way.
I’m talking about material things; the money in your bank, the mobile phone in your pocket, the house you live in.
We grow up being told that we should be happy with what we have. You can surely remember your parents pointing out that the kid up the road doesn’t have a bike like yours, and that you should be thankful for what you have – but do you also remember thinking about all the things he had that you didn’t? I do!
Of course when we are children we want more, it’s a built-in hunger that gives us the drive to go get what we haven’t got. If nobody in history ever wanted more than they had, we would still be living in caves.
But year after year that instinctive ‘want’ is dampened and repressed to the extent that many people feel it is wrong to want more, and they don’t hesitate to tell you. “You should be happy you have food on the table. You should be grateful you have a roof over your head!” they say – then if that doesn’t shut you up, they go on to point out someone much less fortunate than you. If you want a new bike, they point out a disabled child on TV with no legs that could never even ride a bike, to shame you into not being so ‘greedy.’
So when it comes to material things should we be happy with what we have?
Now, if you got through your childhood still wanting more without feeling guilty, congratulations. You are one of the few that might go on and achieve great things.
I have always wanted more. Not because I wasn’t happy with what I had – on the contrary I’ve always been very content with my life. I am very aware of how lucky I am, I was born in a country that has great living standards, and I have lots to be grateful for – for example the ability to hear, especially considering I am an audiophile and love music.
But I do want more. More money in the bank, a bigger house, and a fancy Bang and Olufsen music center. Am I greedy or selfish? I don’t think so. I’m just honest. I do mention money first because in my position, just like many other people, money does make things easier. As I’m paralysed from the chest down and rely on an electric wheelchair it is out of the question for me to, for example, go on a backpacking holiday with no money in my pocket and work my way around the world. I can list many more common reasons why more money would make my life easier, but I think you get the point.
Will I be happier when I have the things I’ve said I want? Probably, considering life will be easier – and who doesn’t enjoy the finer things in life, really? But wanting more doesn’t mean I’m unhappy now, nor does it mean I think I would have no problems once I had more. Thinking belongings or money will solve everything is at best naive, and at worst a poisonous self-delusion.
Of course there are many people that don’t care about money in the bank or having a big house, but they still want something, be it a family, a job, a full refrigerator or just a nice evening out with friends.
I know there are always people substantially worse off, whether they are homeless, in poverty or severely disabled; but none of these people would ever chastise anyone for wanting more and for striving to achieve their goals. They would only be confused by people who didn’t appreciate what they already had, and who took it for granted.
So, to conclude, I think we should get back our desire for more and find the drive and passion to get out there and make our aspirations come true – and be honest with ourselves and the people around us about it, too. Think of something you really want. Write it down and make it a real goal, set yourself a date to achieve it by, and start building the life you want.