What do you want? I have a theory that in fact, regardless of how happy or unhappy you are, you have exactly what you want.
It’s a highly developed scientific theory. Like most of my highly developed theories it was born of laying on the beach with a friend discussing human behavior. Ours, our friends, co-workers, children, boyfriends of the moment, and total strangers. Back when we believed whole heartedly that given the chance and resources we could fix all the world’s problems.
And maybe we could have.
If we’d really wanted to.
I remember the beginning of this theory like it was yesterday. Probably because I’ve thought about it a lot in the twenty plus years since. After all, people talk every day about what they want.
“I want to quit smoking” “I want a happier marriage” “I want to be healthier” “I want to live where it’s warm” “I want to make more money” “I hate my job” “I want to get out of debt” “I want to feel better about myself” “I want to date nice guys”
“Why do I not have what I want?”
Twenty-ish years ago my beach friend was nearing forty. She had one tween and some teen children of her own. The man she loved was a little older with no children. He talked often about how much he wanted kids. He would get sad around the holidays because everyone he knew had children to share them with and he did not. His pain around being childless affected his behavior and it affected her.
So she went to a doctor to discuss getting her tubes untied. Mostly to make him happy. Partly to help her decide if she wanted it to. She didn’t. Her love was very disappointed and it was a big problem.
Then, in a moment of sun baked clarity, my friend asked “if he wants kids so bad why does he keep dating women who either don’t want them (or more of them) or can’t have them? He could be dating younger women or women who really want children. Why me? Why put all this time and energy into a woman whose tubes are tied!? If it were me I’d have said early on….I like you, but I plan on having kids so this isn’t going to work for me”.
Her love didn’t want children as much as he thought he did. Or he’d have been doing exactly what she said. He knew early in the relationship that she had her tubes tied. For the obvious reason that she didn’t want more kids. Yet he pursued her intensely. Why? Because he wanted something else more than he wanted children. Something I can’t define and he might not be able to define either.
When I hear women tell me they never meet nice men. I think to myself “I meet them all the time. And so do you. You just don’t want anything to do with them”. You want something else. There are a lot of nice men in the world. I’ve got a highly developed scientific theory about what women want who don’t date nice men, but that’s another two pages.
People put their energy into what they want. So they get it. If you want to smoke cigarettes, you’re time, energy and money go into smoking. Money you could spend on that laptop you think you want, but what you want more is a cigarette. Time you could spend on anything else you think you want, but you actually want that cigarette.
Yes that’s somewhat dumbed down. Cigarettes are an easy target. And people’s true desires can be deeply hidden, even when it comes to something as simple as smoking. Maybe your true desire is to connect with people and all the people in your life connect while smoking cigarettes. Your desire for connection is more powerful than your desire to not smoke. The deeper desire is difficult to see and difficult to find a replacement for.
Someone is in a miserable marriage. They’ve complained about it for years. They ask themselves every day “why don’t I change this?” Maybe it’s as simple as the fear of having to change an entire life; financially and otherwise. But maybe their desire to see their spouse punished for an affair they had ten years ago is stronger than their desire for a happy life. Whatever it is, they don’t want what they think they want.
What do you really want? Don’t look at what you don’t have when asking that question. Look at what you do have. Look at what you spend your time doing. Because it’s the answer. You want whatever it is you put your energy into.
You’re actions speak louder than your words. You’re reality is what you have made it. When the day comes that you actually want something, more than what you have, you will be actively working at making it happen.
I don’t let myself off the hook. I asked myself this question recently. I won’t tell you the answer yet because I’m somewhat ashamed of it. But someday.