What do you want?

Your wants are like pyramids. It is hard to satisfy many conflicting wants at the same time. Photo by Marylou Fortier on Unsplash

Be careful what you wish for.  Your mind only has space for so many wants, and, once in there, those wants will start to dominate your life.  If you want money, your mind will always be working on that aim; it will justify its own cravings by saying ‘I only want money because…’  If you want to appear attractive to others, your mind will ignore other important things to help you in your quest.  Your mind will start to prefer your shopping trips to be about making you look good.  It will bypass other people’s wishes in its mission to satisfy your vanity.

So be careful what you wish for.


Often, your wants will organise themselves like a set of pyramids.  Your biggest, most primal want will become your biggest pyramid.  Your other priorities will take the form of other pyramids.

The trouble is, you can only stand on top of one pyramid at once.  You will find yourself, sometimes, torn, standing in the desert looking up at two peaks, and wondering which one to ascend.  You will find yourself rushing around trying to keep all of your wants happy, and just exhausting yourself.


Instead of allowing pyramids to emerge from your primal wants, it can be a better strategy to start with building a liveable life.  Begin with the mind and body you have.  These are what you have been given to work with.  Learn how they work, what their advantages and disadvantages are.  Learn what you can do in a day, what your talents are, what your environment has given you.

In particular, learn what helps you to thrive, and what damages you.  Attend to how you feel.  If you feel anxious, ask yourself why.  Usually, with anxiety, there is a conflict there between two things.  What two things are competing for your attention?  How will you settle the argument between the two?  While you are observing your own anxiety, learn what reduces it.  Does being with certain kind people reduce your anxiety?  Why is that?  What is the essence of what helps?  Can you distil it and make it your own, by learning to practice the good things?

Consider your normal day to be a house that you are building.  Each morning, you have a change to modify it, to tidy it up or start building an extension.  Continuously create a day that seems to work for you.  When things do not work, ask yourself why, and do a bit of rebuilding.  Make your life like a house that you feel happy to live in.  Make it something that works, in which you can flow freely.


If you succeed, then you will, over a lifetime, be able to build for yourself an ability to wake up in the morning, live a day that makes you happy, and go back to sleep content.  That is all anyone can really ask of you.

If you leave your primal wants, like pyramids, tempting you across the desert in conflicting directions, then don’t be surprised if you find yourself living an anxious, contradicted life.
But if you can spend time creating a liveable life, one that makes you happy, then you will have applied wisdom to your biological self, and, day by day, your life may feel more liveable.

There is nothing wrong with your basic wants.  It’s just that they contradict each other all the time.  By applying your mind to understanding the anxieties this creates, and how to reduce that anxiety, you can create a better life.  This, in a nutshell, is the work of mindfulness.