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Sometimes I am seized by a nagging sense of unease. I’m irritable and restless, but I can’t pinpoint what exactly is wrong. I turn on the TV, hoping to find something to distract me, but everything is a rerun. I check my Facebook wall, but there’s nothing there either. I call my friends, but no one picks up. I don’t have a way to escape my unease–or at least I thought I didn’t.
I’ve recently realized that oftentimes, my unhappiness is rooted in an internal conflict I am experiencing between the way things are now and the way I want them to be, something I want but don’t have, or something I have and want to get rid of.
Many of us grew up hearing things like ”You want that. You don’t need that,” leading us to believe that things that you need are more important than things that you want. Thus, you learn to listen to your essential needs–like your stomach growling, your head hurting, or your car breaking down. But when it comes to your wants–a beautiful home, a reliable and sporty car, an adorable boyfriend, or a fabulous job–you’ve developed a habit of deprioritizing them. First I’ll take of my needs, you tell yourself, and if there is any time, energy, and money left over, I’ll take care of the things I want. However, you never seem to get past the “needs” to the point when you can focus on your wants. Something always comes up that warrants your money, time, and attention.
This is because you get more of what you pay attention to.
If you are always paying attention to putting out fires, you’ll attract more fires in your life to put out.
If you focus on the thoughts, pursuits, and activities that you want to do, that give you bliss, bring you joy, and make life truly worth living, you’ll get even more of those things that make you say, “Yes, that’s it. This is what I want.”
Many of us deprive ourselves of the very things that could bring us the most happiness in our lives. It’s almost as if we believe there is a limited quantity of goodness available to us and we don’t want to use it up for fear that one day our goodness gas tank will sink to E, leaving us stranded in the middle of Miseryland. To the contrary, the more of your goodness fuel you use, the more sources you will find to keep filling it up. The things that bring me joy but are often deprioritized in my life are cooking for myself, playing my keyboard, going to the movies by myself, giving myself luxurious at-home hair treatments, doing yoga, riding my bike, journaling, and the one I realized most recently, buying a car.
I had resisted buying a car for months, citing all the obligations and headaches that come with a car. After all, I don’t need a car. I work from home, live by a lot of my close friends, and can walk to a plethora of stores and the beach. I had convinced myself I was happier without a car I didn’t need. My wake-up call came when I ran into my spiritual advisor Michael Beckwith at a restaurant. He asked me how long I had been attending Agape, and I eagerly and proudly replied, “Since 2005 when I was in college,” and was then reminded of how important my spiritual community had been to my decision to move to Los Angeles. I had yearned to be with people who shared my thirst for living an amazing life, and I had found that in the thousands of people who congregated at Agape every week. However, I had gone very rarely since I moved to Los Angeles. It was a long bus ride to get there, and I just couldn’t motivate myself to do it. That was the breaking point that made me realize how self-sabotaging we can be. We identify something that is very important to us, but then we find a way to turn it into something we merely “want” rather than need.
Your wants matter just as much as–if not more than–your needs.
Our wants are what make us different than the next person. Every person has to eat, sleep, and seek shelter. But only YOU have your particular set of gifts, strengths, talents, wishes, preferences, hopes, and dreams. To treat what makes you unique as secondary is self-sabotaging and serves no one.
I truly believe that if you follow your bliss, everything you want for your life will happen for you.
Eat the food that makes your stomach sing with joy.
Read the books that fill your heart with inspiration, compassion, and excitement.
Spend time with the people who make you feel amazing.
Give yourself what you really want and don’t apologize for it. You’ll notice that once you begin to give yourself the things you want, more of the things you want will find their way to you.
Buy the name-brand Mozzarella rather than the generic cheese food product, ride your bike for 30 minutes rather than watch half of a rerun of Real Housewives, see the comedy you want to see the night it comes out rather than two years later on TNT, date the guy who makes you swoon rather than the deadbeat who makes you yawn.
Your best life and highest self is waiting for you around the corner. Go find her!