Think of What You Have
Richard Carlson

  

In over a dozen years as a stress consultant, one of the most pervasive and destructive mental tendencies I've seen is that of focusing on what we want instead of what we have.  It doesn't seem to make any difference how much we have; we just keep expanding our list of desires, which guarantees we will remain dissatisfied.  The mind-set that says "I'll be happy when this desire is fulfilled" is the same mind-set that will repeat itself once that desire is met.

A friend of ours closed escrow on his new home on a Sunday.  The very next time we saw him he was talking about his next house that was going to be even bigger!  He isn't alone.  Most of us do the very same thing.  We want this or that.  If we don't get what we want we keep thinking about all that we don't have--and we remain dissatisfied.  If we do get what we want, we simply re-create the same thinking in our new circumstances.  So, despite getting what we want, we still remain unhappy.  Happiness can't be found when we are yearning for new desires.

Luckily, there is a way to be happy.  It involves changing the emphasis of our thinking from what we want to what we have.  Rather than wishing your spouse were different, try thinking about her wonderful qualities.  Instead of complaining about your salary, be grateful that you have a job.  Rather than wishing you were able to take a vacation to Hawaii, think of how much fun you have had close to home.  The list of possibilities is endless!

Each time you notice yourself falling into the "I wish life were different" trap, back off and start over.  Take a breath and remember all that you have to be grateful for.  When you focus not on what you want, but on what you have, you end up getting more of what you want anyway.  If you focus on the good qualities of your spouse, she'll be more loving.  If you are grateful for your job rather than complaining about it, you'll do a better job, be more productive, and probably end up getting a raise anyway.  If you focus on ways to enjoy yourself around home rather than than waiting to enjoy yourself in Hawaii, you'll end up having more fun.  If you ever do get to Hawaii, you'll be in the habit of enjoying yourself.  And, if by some chance you don't, you'll have a great life anyway.

Make a note to yourself to start thinking more about what you have than what you want.  If you do, your life will start appearing much better than before.  For perhaps the first time in your life, you'll know what it means to feel satisfied.
   
    

Carlson's cheerful book aims to make us stop and smell--if not roses--whatever is sitting in front of our noses. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... offers 100 meditations designed to make you appreciate being alive, keep your emotions (especially anger and dissatisfaction) in proper perspective, and cherish other people as the unique miracles they are. It's an owner's manual of the heart, and if you follow the directions, you will be a happier, more harmonious person.

  
   

The more I focused on lack and on what I couldn’t have, the more depressed I became.
The more depressed I became, the more I focused on lack.  My soul whispered that what
I really yearned for was not financial security but financial serenity.  I was still—quiet
enough to listen.  At that moment I acknowledged the deep longing in my heart.  What I
hungered for was an inner peace that the world could not take away.  I asked for help and
committed to following wheresoever Spirit would lead me.  For the first time in my life I
discarded my five-year goals and became a seeker, a pilgrim, a sojourner.
     When I surrendered my desire for security and sought serenity instead, I looked at my
life with open eyes.  I saw that I had much for which to be grateful.  I felt humbled by my
riches and regretted that I took for granted the abundance that already existed in my
life.  How could I expect more from the universe when I didn’t appreciate what I already had?

Sarah Ban Breathnach

  


 
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