How many of us can honestly say that we wouldn’t change a single thing about our lives? That every aspect of it is perfect? I would say close to none.
The truth is; it’s a fundamental part of the human condition to want what you do not have. If you are overweight, you spend a fortune on gym memberships, exercise equipment and weight loss medications to slim down. If you are too skinny, you spend the same fortune on weight gaining products. If you are poor, you want to be rich. When you are rich, you long for the days when all you had to worry about was when your next paycheck was coming, as opposed to following up on several assets, returns, security and the like.
The fact is that we as a species are never content with what we have and are always in contempt of it. We always want more. In fact, it’s not just that we want more, we demand what we do not have, simple. You just bought the latest mobile phone. It is wonderful and amazing! You cannot imagine how you ever functioned for a single day without it and how you ever held another phone before. Then the company goes and releases the next model, with only minor adjustments. Suddenly, you cannot stand your phone and you want to change it as soon as possible. Even though, practically speaking, you do not really need the finger print scanner, and the extra 0.2 inches of screen size didn’t really make that big of a difference. But, it’s a part of who we are: we always want what we do not have.
The first principle of business school is having the ability to discern between needs, the necessities in life, and wants, the desires in life. Unfortunately however, the line between both blurs drastically from person to person.
To demonstrate just how much a part of our identities this issue is, let us trace it back through our history. Specifically, to the first human beings: Adam and Eve. We all know that story. They had it all; no war, famine, hunger, over population. How did they lose it all? By simple submission to their most basic of human traits – the need for what they did not have. Even though their every desire was met, Satan tricked them into tasting the only apple forbidden to them. The fact that they couldn’t taste it would have been enticing enough for them to disobey God, but to make it a sealed deal, Satan offered them something they didn’t have as well: Immortality. And thus came the fall from grace. So you see, the need to have what we don’t is as old as humanity itself. But something else is clear: it always ends in trouble with a capital T.
So, now that we know the problem and know its consequences, can we do anything about it? Yes, we can, and it’s very simple: acceptance. Teach yourself to accept what you have, and what you do not. When you feel that you can no longer live with that old mobile phone, remind yourself that other people still do not even have landlines in their homes. When you cannot stand your home and feel as if it’s too small, remind yourself that there are people in this world that live in cardboard boxes. Teach yourself to look at the half of the glass that is full, not empty. That way, you will learn to thank God for what you have, and ask Him for the things you don’t, without dwelling on them for too long!