Friday, August 10, 2012

Desire and happiness vs. craving

"Although desires can be remarkably stubborn, they share a goal—happiness—and this can form the common ground for an effective dialogue: If a desire doesn’t really produce happiness, it contradicts its reason for being."  - Thanissaro Bhikkhu, "Pushing the Limits"
This quote came across my desk this morning and I realized that for me, this is talking about addictive craving . When I am in craving, it feels like desire. If I can just eat that, I will be happy. But that isn't what happens. All that happens is that if I eat enough of whatever it is (or drink or shop or work), the craving goes away. And the absence of craving is not happiness. It does have a peaceful aspect to it. I am less agitated, less anxious, less restless, less crazy. But I am not happy even though I tell myself I will be.

I admire people who are easily satisfied. One piece of chocolate, one drink, one movie, one book, one new shirt. That has so seldom been true for me. I don't necessarily want more of everything but if it's good, if it tastes good or feels good, I can't seem to get enough. I can't seem to get satisfied. I eat a good lunch and I am still wanting something. I have a nice evening with friends and I am still wanting something.

It is helpful for me to consider whether an impulse or a feeling is a desire or a craving. I desire to sell my novel to a publishing house. I would really like that. It would give me a sense of deep satisfaction. That's a different feeling in my heart and my body from the one that says eat banana popsicles right now and eat a lot of them. Interesting to observe.

1 comment:

Bridget B. said...

Oh this is fascinating - I've been thinking a lot lately about what "success" looks like for me. And there is a connection, there, too. I can NEVER be "successful" enough to really soothe my own sense of not being good enough, just as I can't ever eat enough to really be soothed. Both call for a total re-examination of the goal. A true sense of accomplishment, real satisfaction.