Want­ing or hav­ing?

Penticton Herald - - OPINION - HARVIE BARKER

In his book, Don’t sweat the small stuff, Richard Carl­son has a chap­ter en­ti­tled, “Think of what you have in­stead of what you want.” Dur­ing a pe­riod of time when Carl­son was work­ing as a “stress con­sul­tant”, he ob­served that “...one of the most per­va­sive and de­struc­tive ten­den­cies” he saw in clients was their de­sire to fo­cus on things they wanted to have, in­stead of re­al­iz­ing things they al­ready had.

He be­lieved, as he writes: “It doesn’t seem to make any dif­fer­ence how much we have; we just keep ex­pand­ing our list of de­sires, which guar­an­tees we will re­main dis­sat­is­fied. The mind-set that says ‘I’ll be happy when this de­sire is ful­filled is the same mind­set that will re­peat it­self once that de­sire is met’.”

Carl­son tells about a friend of his who had just pur­chased a new home. But the next time he met him, a short time later, the friend was talk­ing about the next home he was go­ing to buy that was go­ing to be even big­ger.

Says Carl­son, “Most of us do the very same thing. We want this or that. If we don’t get what we want, we keep think­ing about all that we don’t have - and we re­main dis­sat­is­fied. If we do get what we want, we sim­ply re-cre­ate the same think­ing in our new cir­cum­stances. So, de­spite get­ting what we want, we still re­main un­happy. Hap­pi­ness can’t be found when we are yearn­ing for new de­sires.”

Carl­son be­lieves that we need to change our think­ing. He gives sev­eral ex­am­ples. “Rather than wish­ing your spouse were dif­fer­ent, try think­ing about her won­der­ful qual­i­ties. In­stead of com­plain­ing about your salary, be grate­ful that you have a job. Rather than wish­ing you were able to take a va­ca­tion to Hawaii, think of how much fun you have had close to home. The list of pos­si­bil­i­ties is end­less!

“Each time you no­tice your­self fall­ing into the ‘I wish life were dif­fer­ent’ trap, back off and start over. Take a breath and re­mem­ber all that you have to be grate­ful for.”

I have of­ten thought of the num­ber of peo­ple who buy lottery tick­ets. Maybe some peo­ple buy tick­ets in the hope that win­ning will get them out of poverty. But many peo­ple I talk to - who buy lottery tick­ets- are al­ready liv­ing com­fort­ably; but they want more com­forts.

As Carl­son closes his chap­ter, he writes: “Make a note to your­self to start think­ing more about what you have than what you want. If you do, your life will start ap­pear­ing much bet­ter than be­fore. For per­haps the first time in your life, you’ll know what it means to feel sat­is­fied.” May it be so for us! Harvie Barker is a Pen­tic­ton res­i­dent and writer of in­spi­ra­tional mes­sages.

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