We are often driven most by our immediate needs. While these give us something that we want to avoid, they can also end up sabotaging our quest for happiness.
I’m hungry, I’m sore, I’m tired, I’m lonely… Hunger, pain, fatigue, isolation and the like are strong forces that drive us to take action. They drive us away from the thing we don’t want. This can be seen as a survival move, designed to keep us alive to fight another day. While it’s useful to survive, this mode of being becomes a problem when all we end up doing is moving from one fight to another.
What these kinds of drives, what we can call needs, don’t do is take us toward the things we do want. Trying to avoid pain doesn’t give us an indication of what would give us lasting pleasure. Avoiding hunger doesn’t necessarily help us eat nourishing foods that sustain us. Avoiding poverty doesn’t necessarily create enduring wealth.
Very often, when we allow ourselves to be driven solely by needs, we take shortcuts. To avoid being poor, we buy lottery tickets, make shady investments or get into toxic debt. To avoid pain, we take painkillers. To avoid fatigue, we consume stimulants. To avoid loneliness, we stay in broken relationships. To avoid being overweight, we diet. Our life can end up being a series of shortcuts and the results are destructive to our health.
Something that defines us as human beings is our quest for meaning. We strive to find purpose, a vision for how we matter in this world. If our needs are the things we want to move away from, then purpose is the thing we would love to move towards.
I wonder how often you’ve taken the time to write down, in detail, what it is you would love in your life? A person in pain might love to play with their children. A person feeling lonely might love a partner to see the world with. This written declaration is your vision. The clearer and more complete your vision, the more creative, resourceful and whole you realise you are. The larger and more inspiring your vision is, the more support and energy you will generate for it.
Getting into the mode of clarifying your purpose can be a challenge. Start by journalling; simply writing down some of your ideal scenarios in the different areas of life. For health, start by asking yourself the following questions:
How would my ideal mind-body move?
How would my ideal mind-body feel?
What would I love to do with my ideal mind-body?
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