Is it a NEED or a WANT?
What is it about our culture that makes so many people feel dissatisfied with their lot in life when people from other cultures typically think we have everything?
What is it about our level of frustration that when an experience doesn’t work out as expected, we often describe it as terrible?
Is it really so awful that our internet service is slower than we’d like it to be?
Or, that we have annoying paperwork to take care of?
Or, that we are on the slowest line at the supermarket?
Or, that the weather is not cooperating with our plans?
Why are we so fragile that snow in the winter panics us, as does a heat wave in the summer? And a line at the movies bums us out? And rush hour traffic makes us furious?
It sometimes seems as if the more we have, the less appreciative we are. And the higher our expectations, the more frequent our frustrations. Why should this be so?
- Maybe it’s because our culture bombards us with messages that we deserve the best. The best goods, the best services, the best life. After all, you only have one life to live. Must make it the best!
- Maybe it’s because advertising creates artificial wants, then defines them as needs. You must buy this item, you cannot do without this experience, you have to have what your mind thinks you want---even if you don’t really want it!
- Maybe it’s because many of us were brought up to feel that we are special—and don’t realize that we are indeed special to the people who love us, but not to the larger world.
- Maybe it’s because, when we think of ourselves as special, we naturally believe we’re entitled. Entitled to have things go our way, entitled to have our expectations met, entitled to the best.
- Maybe it’s because we expect things to be easy and get bummed out when we can’t get or do what we want without an exorbitant amount of effort.
- Maybe it’s because we often speak in absolute terms, such as: “I have to have this item. Or, I must lose this weight. Or, she has to do what I want her to do.”
If you want to feel increasingly satisfied with what you have, try looking at your life from another’s perspective. Not from the perspective of royalty. Or, from the richest people in America. Or, from celebrities. But from ‘regular’ people.
When you do, I hope you realize just how lucky you are. And appreciate that even if you don’t have everything you want, you probably already have everything you need.
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.