We Don't Want What We Want

Often we hear inspiring stories about people rising from difficult circumstances and being exceptionally successful. 

Other times we hear about someone with great potential and opportunity who blows it big time and is left with practically nothing to show for it.

What is the defining factor there? Where is the tipping point?



There are tons of cute anecdotes to insert here. 

People have rhyming sound bites that make for cute PR or politics. 

But really, what's going on inside of these people that pushes them so far from the publicly perceived trajectory they had?

I have a theory. 

Of course I do, or this post would not exist.

It's true of all of us. It's fair. It's not about categories of people, or locations, or education, or money, or power, or corruption, or prejudice, or destiny.

It's about what you want.

Have I oversimplified? Yes. 

So let me explain.

"Want" is a paradoxical word. It means two completely different things in different contexts. If we say we "want a candy bar", it's true; but we do not "want to gain weight". 

Therefore we want and don't want the exact same thing. 

We want benefits without consequences. 

We want prosperity without responsibility.

We want good without bad. 

We want fun without repercussions. 



We have immediate and long-term desires (wants). Long-term success and fulfillment will be determined by how we execute on our long-term desires. The bummer is that long-term desires often conflict with short-term desires. 

We want to spend all our money now on fun and excitement, but that could mean no money left next month when you drop your phone in the toilet and remember you didn't insure it. Oops. Or on a more serious note, you live to be 65 years old with no investments and you're stuck between a rock and a social security building. I'm not making fun, but this stuff happens.

Individuals that become enraptured by their moment-to-moment desires lose site of their long-term desires. They have tunnel vision. 

From the outside, it might appear their life is free and full of fun and pleasure. They get to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Or do they?

Lack of constraint does not equal freedom, nor does lack of responsibility equal excitement.

I have no intention of outlining a solution to this problem. It's complicated. It's personal; and for your life, it's none of my business. 

But my life is my business, and I am no exception; and neither are you.

Every moment we are faced with a choice to get what we really want from life, or what our glucose/dopamine-driven brains tell us we want right now

I'm not against occasional indulgence, but if you make it your lifestyle, you'll lose out on what you want from your life.

Proverbs 23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty, and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.

Proverbs 28:19 He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread, but he that follows after vain [people] shall have poverty.

Image credit:
Confused guy image from http://cyberbrethren.com/2013/12/18/are-you-confused-about-the-third-use-of-the-law/
'Everything you want' image from http://vividmktg.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-to-get-everything-you-wantno.html

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