the pale blue dot

In the Foundations of Well-being program, I am working on Motivation and this week’s theme is liking and wanting and healthy, happy ways to pursue one’s goals and passions.

I make myself rich by making my wants few.

– Henry David Thoreau

In our brains, there are separate nodes to handle “liking” – enjoying, preferring – while others handle “wanting” – insisting, craving. In this sense, wanting both feels bad and is bad for us. Can we enjoy life fully, handle problems and pursue our dreams without falling into the painful trap of wanting?

Rick Hanson asks us to watch our minds: there you are, perfectly content… and your mind is still scanning for something else to seek. Notice the inner ad campaign – your brain will want what it likes. You will observe your mind wanting the pleasant to continue and the unpleasant to end. Also know that something new to like is probably just around the bend. Even when our wants are met, we keep looking for something new to want. This tendency is intensified by our consumer-driven economy, advertising and the media. See how others manipulate your wanting – see them pursuing their wants, not yours. Reclaim your own wanting.

Desire demands its own attainment. Our desires and aversions are mercurial rulers. They demand to be pleased. Desire commands us to run off and get what we want. Aversion insists that we must avoid the things that repel us.

When we don’t get what we want, we are disappointed, and when we get what we don’t want we are distressed.

If then, you avoid only those undesirable things that are contrary to your natural well-being and are within your control, you won’t ever incur anything you truly don’t want. However, if you try to avoid inevitabilities such as sickness, death or misfortune, over which you have no real control, you will make yourself and others around you suffer.

Desire and aversion, though powerful, are but habits. And we can train ourselves to have better habits. Restrain the habit of being repelled by all those things that aren’t within our control, and focus instead on combating things within your power that are not good for you.

Do your best to rein in your desire. For if you desire something that isn’t within your own control, disappointment will surely follow; meanwhile, you will be neglecting the very things that are within your control that are worthy of desire.

Of course, there are times when for practical reasons you must go after one thing or shun another, but do so with grace, finesse, and flexibility.”

The Art of Living – a rendering of Epictetus’ Discourses by Sharon Lebell

In this moment there is more than enough. Can we sense an enoughness in our body…enough air to breathe…water…. food….vitality… in our body?

Recognise the nurturing fullness of the natural world…our amazing earth…the millions of species of life forms… plants giving us oxygen… the only planet in our solar system teaming with life… floating around the Sun… the mass held by gravity so we don’t float away… the unimaginable vastness of the observable universe…filled with 100 billion galaxies… expanding out of an infinite speck 13 billion years ago…. Be mindful of the fullness of your experience. Feel filled by each moment’s arising – even as they pass away.

Let our mantra be ‘I have enough – I am enough’.