You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But…

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.” ~The Rolling Stones

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Right now, millions of people suffer on our planet because what we want distracts us from what we actually need. The Rolling Stones made this observation decades ago, yet still we struggle.
 
For example, you may want to be admired by others, to gain a high status job, make a lot of money, have a successful career and buy a big house.
 
Unfortunately, such dreams could make you miserable. What we need for happiness is work that feeds our souls, that helps us to improve skills and grow, that provides us with a living but also makes us happier and wiser human beings.
 
Here’s another example. Because of the competitive “rat race” mentality of modern life, many people look forward to their “free time” as a chance to escape. They get caught up in political dramas, watch too much television or pornography, surf the internet, get drunk, play video games, get high with drugs or gamble.
 
Sadly, these “escape” experiences are addictive traps. These methods never work because to be truly happy humans need to connect with the world in meaningful (rather than meaningless) ways. We need to do enjoyable and playful things with others, to express our talents, practice arts or sports, collaborate on creative projects, develop our skills and human potential.
 
To be happy and free we need to be aware of bad influences. Your dog or cat knows more about happiness then the talking heads of large corporations, Madison avenue and Wall Street.  The mainstream media is a propaganda machine spinning fake stories and false dreams created by skillful marketing wizards who try to convince us to live in fear of certain “others,” crave what we don’t need and consume worthless things.

They feed our desires, fears and anxiety, trying to convince us to ingest unhealthy thoughts and materials that do us more harm then good. They try to tempt us to eat chocolate, donuts, french fries, steak and ice cream. To put food in our bodies that provide a brief moment of pleasure, yet lead to obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, cancer, sickness and early death.

What human beings need is to care for our minds and bodies, to eat healthy, to treat our psychological and physical well-being with love, wisdom and care. To teach our children to avoid foods (and ideas) that were manufactured to taste or feel “good” for a moment but in truth do harm to our bodies and spirits.

Much of what the modern world tries to sell us is fake. Not just fake news, but also fake goals, fake dreams, fake foods, fake enemies and fake views.

Because of televised and internet media, millions (perhaps billions) of humans are drowning in dissatisfaction, wanting the perfect body, perfect home, perfect partner, perfect job, perfect sex life. This is what corporations and mass marketers (as well as some friends and family) tell us will bring happiness. But it won’t, because materialism is a big lie.

We don’t need more things to be happy. As the Roman philosopher Seneca put it, “the greatest wealth is a poverty of desires.”

What your soul needs is deeper connectedness and peace, freedom from fear and anxiety, loving relationships, creative activities, meaningful projects, time alone with Nature, a sense of spiritual or emotional connection to life, humanity and the Universe.

This wisdom is shared by many spiritual traditions. It’s taught by Taoism & Zen, and lived moment to moment by many animals. To be truly happy on this planet humans need to understand the difference between the fake narratives our consumer society feeds us, (about who we are and what to desire), and what we need as creative, social and spiritual beings.

Happiness arises naturally when we feed our souls rather than our egos. To become wiser and happier we need to understand the difference between what Buddhists refer to as samsara (false views) and nirvana (reality). Only then can we gain freedom from society’s endless marketing of fake goals, meaningless things and harmful products that keep billions of humans trapped in suffering, wanting and confusion.

To be happy as a species, I think we need to master for ourselves (and model for our children) how to not let fake wants get in the way of real needs.

 
By Christopher Chase, April 2017
 
want vs need
 
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About Christopher Chase

Co-creator and Admin of the Facebook pages "Tao & Zen" "Art of Learning" & "Creative Systems Thinking." Majored in Studio Art at SUNY, Oneonta. Graduated in 1993 from the Child & Adolescent Development program at Stanford University's School of Education. Since 1994, have been teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, in Fukuoka, Japan.
This entry was posted in age of ignorance, Creative Systems Thinking, Life's Purpose and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But…

  1. anandave says:

    Thanks for another mind-inspiring blog Chris. I always enjoy your posts.

  2. Gary Fuqua says:

    Love this. Thanks to Christopher Chase for sharing such insightful and heartfelt articles beneficial to anyone that takes the time to read them.

  3. Val Boyko says:

    Reblogged this on Find Your Middle Ground and commented:
    This is such an insightful post from Chris at Creative Systems Thinking.
    “What your soul needs is deeper connectedness and peace, freedom from fear and anxiety, loving relationships, creative activities, meaningful projects, time alone with Nature, a sense of spiritual or emotional connection to life, humanity and the Universe.
    … To be truly happy on this planet humans need to understand the difference between the fake narratives our consumer society feeds us, (about who we are and what to desire), and what we need as creative, social and spiritual beings. Happiness arises naturally when we feed our souls rather than our egos.”

  4. For your listening pleasure…

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    Pertinent observations, Chris!

  6. @vapor_sage says:

    Thanks for this post, Thomas Merton alludes to this, beautifully, in his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.

  7. 1Wise-Woman says:

    Great post! So much truth in those words, thank you 🙂

  8. Pingback: “Seriousness” and “Achievement” – WTFAI

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