Did you ever long for something for days, months or maybe years? Did you get what you wanted, thinking it would make you happy – only to find out that you are soon back in the feeling of wanting something else?
For as long as I have lived, the (extremely) common discussion of how to feel satisfied with your life has been revolving around me. Partly it has been a popular subject of discussion between friends or colleagues of mine, but mainly I have struggled to find an answer in my own head. It is something I think about when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed at night. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Am I happy? Should I focus on studying hard and making a lot of money to feel productive or should I play my guitar, creating musical art and feel creative? What makes me happier?
I am sure that these questions circle around many peoples lives, probably during a big part of their lifetime. How could I possibly feel satisfied with my life knowing that I may be happier doing something else?
To me, the feeling of always wanting something else is a blessing and a curse. It keeps me driven, never wanting to stand still. It also makes me confused and sometimes frustrated.
There is one thing my dad always told me when I was younger that has stuck to me until this day. It was before every christmas and every birthday. During my childhood, me and my sister rarely got any material things other than on these occasions. If I wanted a toy, they always said “well then, that’s something you can put on your wish list”. So obviously I was extremely eager to get my gifts (as any other kid would be) and I really couldn’t wait to get the things I had longed for so long. I would be sleepless for a month before christmas, just dreaming of what I could get on december 24th.
What my dad always said was; “Take joy in the feeling of longing. Once you have gotten your toys, you won’t have anything to look forward to anymore“. Now, my dad was not a sadist and surely he put it in a nicer way than that. But what he basically wanted me to understand was that this tingly feeling of knowing that I will get what I want soon enough, will be over once I have gotten it. The joy of longing for something can many times be as strong and maybe stronger, than the joy of actually getting the thing you wanted.
I am very lucky that he told me this, since I have been able to apply this kind of thinking to my whole way of looking at my life. When I was in highschool I really wanted to travel abroad for a long time, avoiding all kinds of studying. That gave me motivation to study hard, knowing that I can reward myself with a year of traveling once I have gotten my exam. Shortly after my exam, I went to Australia for a year. When I had been traveling for 10 months and I was all out of money, I really wanted to study in order to feel productive again. I have now been in college for two years and I really want to get a good job, earn some money and maybe be able to buy an apartment. So I am longing for that but I also know that my key to doing so is to finish my studies first.
I am not satisfied with my situation because I still want to change it. I like studying, I like the city I live in and I like my friends. But I would not settle with this. I want to advance and see and do new things.
Where I want to get with this is that most of you will never feel satisfied. You will always have a need of getting something that you don’t have. And that really can be a good thing, generating motivation and focus. What many people miss out on though, is that you should enjoy the feeling of wanting something new. Because once you get it, you have to find something else in order to get this motivating experience again.