Desire is a concept, which has fascinated me over the years. Some say desire is a distraction, always pulling our attention from the present into the future. Others say it is a necessary motivating force in evolutionary advancement.
I’ve learned that there are two kinds of desires: needs and wants. A need is a “true” desire based on what we need to live, and a want is a “borrowed” desire based usually on what we see others having, and on what we think would impress others.
Years ago I taught a series of workshops in creative visualization. As I watched myself and others manifest our wants and needs, I noticed something, which felt unsatisfying inside. No matter how much I manifested, there was always another desire following close behind the last, beckoning me to focus on it. I seemed to be more in a state of want, rather than one of satisfaction. I found myself worrying if I was visualizing the right things. Should I be visualizing something more grand or more noble. I found it a bit stressful. That’s when I heard of an interesting study conducted with subjects who had experienced either a tragedy, such as losing a limb, or a fortuitous windfall, such as winning the lottery. Interestingly, they found that after two years, both types returned to the same emotional setting they were at when the accident or boon occurred. It seems we have an emotional thermostat, which is set at a particular range based on our conditioning. Although, we may temporarily experience greater highs or deeper lows, our thermostat is basically set and will return to its comfortable setting. That is unless one consciously works at changing it.
When I was younger I had somewhat of a victim consciousness. Someone or something was always causing a slight irritation in my life. It was my story to tell and I loved my stories. I got attention when I told them. I could easily get others to agree with me that the other was wrong and I was right and that whatever it was, it shouldn’t be happening. It gave me a clear sense of where I left off and the “other” began. No matter what happened, I was always in this emotional state of “things are fine, BUT.” When I came to realize that my big “But” and my sense of being slightly victimized by people and circumstances were causing the irritation, I set out to change it. I also saw that my way of interpreting what was happening was keeping my emotional setting at the familiar yet unsatisfying position. As I became more conscious and watched myself in action, I developed more skill at stopping the “BUT” when it came up, and of dealing with my projections of others when I started to blame out instead of look within.
I also realized that satisfaction is something that comes from within rather than from any person, place or thing on the outside. It's a decision I make to be in desire or in satisfaction. Spending time on wants rather than on needs keeps me in a never ending ride on the hamster wheel of desire. Now when I focus on gratitude for what I have, and work to maintain a feeling of satisfaction for what is in the moment, existence brings me whatever I need. Interestingly, whatever I need is also what I want.