Focusing on having what we don’t have right now creates misery not just for ourselves but those around us. Holding on to having whatever we’re focused on now only sets us on the path of anger, hate and suffering.
My son received some money for Christmas. The $40 burned a hole in his pocket. He decided he wanted to buy a new nerf rival gun. During a trip into town, we stopped by a Target as he just knew it would be there. It wasn’t. The complaining turned to anger and angst towards the parents for not buying the more expensive gun that he couldn’t afford. For the next few hours, he lashed out at others over meaningless things. His anger left everyone else in the family wanting to get away. Unfortunately, our house isn’t that big and so the anger spread like a virus amongst us. My wife and I attempted to help him order it on-line, but he said he needed it now to play with his friends tomorrow.
The next day, we had another trip into town. Before we went, I offered my son the automatic nerf gun I had for an extremely reasonable amount because it was “used.” My son demanded we go to another Target as that’s not the one he wanted. I did stop by a different Target that was close to where we had to go. Alas they didn’t have it either. They did have another gun that was a little more money. My son brought some of his saving along with his gift money. We went to the register. I told him, I wasn’t paying tax. Low and behold the total came out to $5 more than he had. He asked for the tenth time. I politely asked the clerk if they could return it to stock. he was pissed. We left the store with my son experiencing another round of anger centered misery. I offered to sell him my nerf gun again. He grumbled about not getting what he wanted. The drive home was tense until he fell asleep. After a short nap and some discussions with mom, dad, and sister, he was amenable to purchasing the nerf gun I had.
I know what he feels. I’ve wanted things right when I thought about it. I’ve wanted people to react a particular way to my actions and left with disappointment that they did not fulfill the script I had for them. How dare they be individuals with their own thoughts, feelings and experience! Our desires and perceived needs are strong. Why else would advertising work so well? Our wants turn to need. Need is coupled with fear of not having which leads to anger. With my son hateful words were said as he lashed out at us for not being able to buy what he wanted. His anger turned into hate. Obviously, he was suffering inside. Perhaps he was wanting someone to share his misery. The problem with this path is it leads to disconnection and despair. When we repeat it, the misery becomes part of our expectation. This negative infects other aspects of our lives disabling ourselves with thoughts containing the words can’t, stupid, and impossible. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or can’t either way you are right.” We literally create our world within our thoughts. Our thoughts lead to feelings and expectations of how things should be. When the distance between what should be and what is expands beyond our comfort zone, we take it out on our selves and others around us.
I’ve attempted to talk to my son about this, but I suppose we all have to travel on our particular path until we realize it’s a path we don’t like. Our path can be a rut if we repeat it over and over. It’s hard to break our mental and behavioral habits. Bringing our awareness to now, being mindful of our desires is important. Recognizing how our desires and thoughts do not reflect the reality of our situation is the bedrock of acceptance and happiness. There are myriad ways to do this like meditation, martial arts, yoga, enlisting friends, or just simply reminding yourself to breath in before following a particular emotional response to our thoughts of lack or fear. We all have to find what works for us. My wife and I attempt to help my son, but ultimately, it’s his responsibility to find his own awareness of how he creates his own problem by focusing on having things now. It’s up to each of us to recognize the problem of now and shift our own thinking towards accepting the difference between what is and what we think it should be. it’s up to us to then connect with the future in a way that brings about what we truly want in lieu of the junk wants that take us down the paths we don’t want to tread.
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