All Buddhists teach that desire is insidious.
We get a craving, an expectation, and we set ourselves up for disappointment.
And as soon as we get what we want, the excitement fades and we want something else.
Not only that, but the more we give in to desire, the more we will crave external things.
But happiness is not necessarily desire.
Can the happiness of shelter, food and family be enough?
Of course, we don’t have to live off crumbs to live with spirituality.
The Buddha himself spoke on the happiness that we get from having just about more than we need – we can spoil our loved ones, help others and treat ourselves from time to time.
All the while we should know that things do not make us happy when we are miserable.
But when I saw a stupidly expensive flower pot, all this wisdom went out the window.
I simply had to have it!
I knew that eventually,
I wouldn’t be excited by the pot anymore.
And yet if I didn’t get it,
I knew that I would be heartbroken over it for ages.
So I had learned to give into desires not because they make me happy, but because they prevent me from becoming unhappy.
And the more I give in, the more likely I am to do so in the future, giving me even more opportunities to become unhappy.
Unfortunately, unhappiness is way stickier than positive feelings.
We may think we like to be happy, but then we obsess over one bad thing when we had a dozen good ones.
Humans are not made to be glad they got a flower pot for too long before they will start worrying about what painting to hang above it, or what carpet underneath.
So if desires are dangerous and blind spots,
which other ones am I schlepping around with me?
My innermost desires are pretty mundane:
I long for a stable and respectable career with steady income, a reliable relationship, health and friends who become family. But also:
I desire to travel and to have pets, which poses one pitfall. Immediately, if I have one, I will be sad that I can’t have the other.
I desire to be independent and have a partner. I’ve gotten used to living alone and only answering to myself, and yet crave not living alone and answering to myself. Classic grass is always greener.
So can I turn off my desires? Of course not.
But I can be aware of them so that I see life as it truly is, and not for what I want it to be.
How do you handle your desires and seeking happiness anywhere but within yourself?