Day 88 – The Power of Not Getting What you Want (right now)

“Let me have men about me that are fat;…yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look…”

-William Shakespeare; Julius Caesar

 

A commonality amongst self-help industrialists and business moguls is the powerful adage to ‘stay hungry’.  Whether in finances, in love, or endeavors of creativity or knowledge; the idea of existing in a state of wanting in order to engender drive to your goals is a big deal.

My grandfather always used to say you should leave the dinner table wanting a little bit more, in order to promote good health (I found it highly amusing that, years later, I would find this same advice in an Islamic Hadith as well as in Ecclesiasicus).  While these two concepts, entrepreneurial hunger and physical hunger, are quite different, there is a power in not getting exactly what you want, all the time.

Ennui, and complacency can be killers.  When one has entertained every facet and avenue of instant gratification, a bored malaise can quickly set in.  Not getting what you “want” at any given moment creates a friction.  An energy that can propel you to what you truly desire.  If you have the wherewithal to not eat yourself into a stupor, or engage in hours of frenetic,pointless internet surfing, the struggle is opening up a new opportunity to do something different, something that would encourage growth.

I am going to use a crude metaphor; consider a young man who wants to get a girlfriend.  Consider further, that individual, rather than actually doing anything about this yearning, decides instead to add to his gigabytes-wide porn collection.  He is getting what he “wants” but at the expense of something more precious,  real intimacy and connection with another person.  He no longer wants that distant goal, he has gotten what he “wants” in a more immediate, facile way.  Now once more, consider that person decides to refuse himself, giving up what he wants immediately and making the risky and scary endeavor to meet new people and go on dates.  By not giving himself what he wants he is getting so much more.

A feeling of unsatisfactoriness can be a first step to necessary action.  If someone feels totally fed up with a terrible life situation, and has the power and foresight to change it, is that not better then having that same terrible condition with no inclination to change?  Or no desire to?  If there is no want, there is no desire to change.  There is only the status quo, which of course will not last long as the world changes around you.

 

Refusing immediate wants can teach patience.  It can teach gratitude and forgiveness.  Now if we could only teach ourselves to want the things we need.  That would be miraculous.

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