Tag Archives: human

After you get what you want, do you still want it?

You always want what you can’t have; the grass is always greener on the other side; true happiness is “just around the next corner.” These are all idioms that epitomize human desire and drive. We are driven by our desires to conquer yet uncharted territory. We constantly crave something new, something different, the next upgrade or latest model.

But after we obtain the object of our desire – are we ever truly satisfied? How soon afterward do we start searching for the next pursuit? Is there a short-lived appreciation period where we bathe in the glory of the conquest at all? Or do we instantaneously lose interest and move on, forgetting about how badly we wanted that which we now possess?

Life is a delicate balance between desire, drive, and appreciation. We must always have goals towards which we strive – otherwise we cannot value our own life, and our time becomes meaningless. And our dreams guide us to set those goals. But is there some optimal point where we should stop and truly enjoy our successes, before marching onward? There must at least be a point where we should start slowing down and be grateful for the things that we have accomplished, and flourish in them. If we keep going at the same pace all the time, where will that lead us? On a goose-chase for the golden egg? Or maybe to the realization that the important things were there all along, but we have taken them for granted until they were gone?

I have a theory that the more people get what they want, the less satisfied they are after getting it. People become addicted to obtaining new things and experiences, just like they get addicted to anything else. They can never get enough.

The more people travel, the more they want to travel, see exotic places, and are in constant pursuit of the next place to visit or move to. Will these people ever find a place good enough to set down roots in? Or will they roam the earth like nomads? I’ve noticed this is particularly true for immigrants – they have already changed their whole lives as a result of moving, and survived it. After that experience – anything seems possible, and they actually desire to keep improving their lives by moving to other locations.

The more people date, the less likely they are to settle down with a partner. After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea. If you don’t try them all, you may never be sure of the rightness of your choice – choosing a mate should be an informed, educated decision! And the more people you meet, the better you get at pinpointing their flaws and discarding them at a faster rate. No one wants to waste time on building, compromising and growing. If it’s not all there on a silver platter, surely a full package will eventually appear. So we keep dating the same type of people, and have the same problems, and lose interest after we “get what we want.” I am by no means saying you should marry the first person you lay eyes on. I am just musing that at some point you should realize that there are only so many fish out there! The point is not to find some perfect version of a mate that you have in your mind. The real treasure is when you find a deep, chemical connection to another human. That can’t be faked or learned, but just is. And when it exists, everything else that is problematic can we worked on – if both people are willing and mature enough to do so. And it may just be wiser to treasure when you have something that feels so right, then to move on to another hunt that will not bring any more meaning into your life.

I will make better mistakes tomorrow

“I will make better mistakes tomorrow.” This was a quote I read on someone’s T-shirt the other day, and it has resonated with me and stuck in my mind.

Any way you slice it, we are human, and that implies that we are not immune to making mistakes. But, what exactly counts as a mistake? Who determines which actions are mistakes, and which ones aren’t? You can view an individual’s life as a series of choices that eventually turn into a unique pathway. Along the way, there undoubtedly were a lot of potential swerves and alternate pathways. And some of those probably resulted in setbacks, large and small. When the outcome of a step made makes a person feel negative emotions, that is usually a sign to double back onto that original road. This misstep is then viewed as a “mistake” by the traveler. Once we recognize it as such, we often feel regret, anger, sadness, guilt and disappointment.

What is the purpose of these emotions? I think they serve as teachers, reminders not to conduct similar behavior in the future to avoid similar consequences. For instance, our pain receptors teach us early in life not to do stuff that hurts us physically (burn ourselves on hot surfaces, scrape/bruise ourselves, etc.). So in a way, emotions, like the perception of pain, are self-defense mechanisms. Sometimes, however, this mechanism works in overdrive and causes imbalances. We get so eaten up with guilt and regret, that we cannot let go and move ahead.

I recently realized that the only person you could ever disappoint, betray, or otherwise let down, is yourself. We may get angry and take it out on others, but that is really a projection of what we our feeling for ourselves at that moment. The phrase “you have no one to blame but yourself” comes to mind. What messes a lot of people up are expectations. We have this vision in our heads of what outcome we want, and plan it out, and get excited. And if it depends to any extent on other people (and a lot of things in this world involve relating to other human beings), we get upset with them if something goes wrong. But in reality, we cannot expect other people to do what we want. We can’t count on them to act a certain way or live up to a certain standard. So placing too much value or trust in their hands is the mistake on our part. The involvement of another person to your plans places the circumstances out of your control, and it strips you of power. You are not vulnerable to the actions of this other person, and you only have your faith and intuition to help guide you to people worthy of your trust. So when things don’t work out as planned, you cannot blame the other people involved. You can only blame yourself for trusting them, and draw conclusions to withdraw that trust in the future.

On the other side of that coin, we often misplace our frustrations with ourselves into unhealthy outlets. I am a chronic procrastinator and constantly running late; I am a night owl that come morning regrets not going to bed earlier the night before; I am a people pleaser and have trouble saying no. All of these things result in me thinking ill thoughts and being frustrated/mad/annoyed. Instead of recognizing that I am hurting myself, I project my frustrations on my surroundings. Instead of admitting our faults, we make excuses and get angry. In order to face our own issues, we need to analyze why we are getting angry with others. Admitting we were wrong is hard, but it is so much harder to live in denial and misplaced emotions, (not to mention it may snowball into huge anger management issues later on).

This may sound cynical, but it is meant to be therapeutic. Things can only change when we overcome denial and recognize that it is a problem. So in the end, we are all responsible for our destinies. Sadly, we cannot count on (most) other people (although there is light at the end of the tunnel: there will be people you can count on, few and far between), unless they prove themselves worthy by their actions. We should try to be self-sufficient to avoid the pain of high expectations from others. We should also pay close attention to the consequences of our actions, so we can react quickly to rectify situations which may become unfavorable. And we should accept the fact that we are human and imperfect, and the only thing we can count on is that mistakes will happen from time to time.

So, I will make better mistakes tomorrow. That is a vow to myself.