YOU CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH OF WHAT YOU DON’T REALLY WANT
Life keeps getting faster and faster. More and more, we spend our time trying to make things happen, fitting more into each minute than ever before. But somehow, we are neither satisfied nor fulfilled. Why? Because the things we’re running after so fervently are in most cases not the things we really want.
And, if what you go after is not what you really, truly want, it will never satisfy you. You will always be left wanting more.
In fact, you can never get enough of what you don’t really want.
COOKIES VERSUS APPLES
Here’s an example: When you crave cookies and eat one, more often than not your craving won’t be satisfied. In fact, sometimes eating one cookie actually makes your craving stronger.
In contrast, when you crave a juicy red apple and eat it you almost never need to eat another one. The first apple hits the spot.
That’s because what draws you to the apple is a craving for things that actually can be found in an apple. Things like vitamins, fiber and healthy sweet energy – the very things that are abundant in a fresh, juicy fruit.
But, in many cases, the craving that draws you to a cookie can’t be satisfied by a cookie. Or even more than one.
There’s nothing much that your body wants in a cookie. So when you crave that cookie it’s probably not really a physical craving. What you want is more likely a “soul food’; i.e. something emotional or even spiritual. You might, for example, be craving the experience of sweetness, goodness, pleasure, connection, abundance, a sense of security or comfort.
If you associate cookies with those feelings you’ll keep going for the cookies. But unfortunately, no matter how many cookies you eat, your craving will never be satisfied
In fact, rather than making you satisfied and fulfilled, most of the time giving yourself a lot of what you don’t really want does the very opposite – it makes your craving even bigger. This is true whether we’re talking about cookies, booze, money, ‘toys’, a bigger house, or a more exciting relationship.
That’s why, sometimes, the people who have the biggest share of the things we are all striving for – things like money, success and adulation – end up on drugs.
That’s because money, success and adulation are not what they really want. They really want the happiness, pride, love, connection, purpose, beauty, fulfillment and appreciation that they associate with those things.
There’s nothing wrong with fame and fortune – like there’s nothing wrong with cookies – as long as you aren’t using those things to satisfy a craving for something else.
CRAVINGS AND ADDICTION
In fact, this is one definition of addiction – the insatiable need to satisfy a deeply rooted craving with something that simply can’t satisfy it.
When your craving for something is healthy, indulging that craving will not only satisfy you, it will allow you to be more present in your life. Enjoying a gourmet meal, an evening by the beach, a passionate connection with another person, or a glass of good wine can all enhance your sense of joy and aliveness.
But when your craving is unhealthy or addictive, the opposite is true. Rather than bringing you into the present, indulging the craving will distract and dull you.
And when you can’t indulge the craving – if, for example, you fail to achieve the level of material success you think you need – it will disappoint and frustrate you too.
HITTING THE SPOT
Imagine living a life where everything you crave – everything you do – actually hits the spot, leaving you present, alive, satisfied and fulfilled. What could be more desirable than that?
The trick is, in order to know what it will take to hit that spot, you have to know exactly where the spot is. Or in other words, you have to know what you really want. Deep down inside, in the core of who you are.
Do you want peace of mind? If you are looking for it in a cookie, a new car or a greater level of material success, you probably won’t find it.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t strive for or enjoy those things? Not at all. It just means that you shouldn’t look to satisfy your deep-rooted craving for peace of mind in the car dealership. They only sell cars.
For peace of mind you have to shop somewhere else.
THE PRINCE ANDTHE CHICKEN FAT
Here’s a little kabbalistic story for you.
Once, a king sent his only son, a handsome prince, to make his fortune in a country far across the sea. In that country, it was said, gold and jewels were so abundant that they were lying in the streets.
The prince was excited by the opportunity. Although his ship took several months to make the long journey, at last he arrived at the far-away country. As soon as he set foot on shore he saw that all the rumors were true – the ground was literally covered with precious stones and gold. Quickly he picked up a handful and put them in his pocket.
Armed with his newfound riches, the prince entered a shop filled with delicacies. He picked out some delicious foods and went to the counter to pay. To his shock and dismay, when he held out a large diamond to the shopkeeper, the man looked at him as if he was crazy. “What are you trying to give me?” he asked angrily. “A worthless stone! If you want to buy something here, you’ll need to do better than that! You’ll need to bring in some chicken fat! That’s the only currency we accept here.”
“Well,” thought the resilient prince, getting over his shock, “A person has to live. I’ll just have to get hold of enough chicken fat to keep me going while I’m here. Once I’m established, I can easily go out and collect a fortune of gold and jewels.” Being rather clever, he managed to somehow acquire a few starter chickens, selling their fat at a good profit. He reinvested and over the course of several years amassed a great store of chicken fat. He was able to afford a lovely big house, servants and expensive furniture.
The prince stayed on for twenty years – until he had accumulated the largest stock of chicken fat in the entire country. He was tremendously pleased with his success. Finally, he decided that it was time to go home, but he was so proud and excited about his success in buying and selling chicken fat that he forgot all about the gold and jewels he came for.
So, at the end of the twentieth year, he loaded up his ship with his hard-earned chicken fat and set sail.
When the prince at last arrived at the palace, he watched proudly as his servants unloaded the treasure at the feet of the king. But his father’s expression caused his heart to drop.
”Chicken fat!” declared His Majesty in dismay. “Twenty years of working to make your fortune and all you could bring home is chicken fat!!”
Suddenly the prince remembered why he had traveled to that distant country in the first place. Frantically, he searched the pockets of his clothing – but all he could find was the handful of treasure that he had picked up from the street on the very first day.
CHICKEN FAT AND YOU
Like our prince, most of us have gotten very, very busy collecting chicken fat.
True, if you do manage to cleverly invest, as he did, you might acquire a lovely home, beautiful furniture and maybe even servants. But those things, desirable as they may be, are only a means to an end. If you can’t remember why you are here, you’ll never be able to get what you really came for.
HOW TO ACCUMULATE A TREASURE
If, on the other hand, you want to accumulate a real treasure, this is what you should do.
First of all, stop whatever you’re doing right now and ask yourself why you’re doing it in the first place.
Ask yourself what it is, deep down inside, that you really want. What, at the end of the day, will give you genuine and long-lasting satisfaction and pride? What is it that you’re putting off until after you ‘make it’? And no less important, what special person is waiting for your time, your smile, your listening ear?
Stop waiting for the end of the day. You can do something right now, this minute, in order to create true joy, satisfaction and meaning in your life or the life of someone you love. To fulfill the deep-rooted cravings of your soul. All you have to do is recognize the opportunity for the treasure it is.
You don’t have to stop collecting chicken fat. That’s not the point. But don’t forget to pick up the gold and jewels that are lying all around you, unnoticed and unappreciated.
That’s where the real fortune lies.
(*Since the Torah forbids the erasing of G-d’s name, it’s customary to avoid writing it out in full)