Monday, March 17, 2014

I Just Want

I hear myself say this phrase a lot these days, do you? It makes it easy to think there is just one thing that I want. Like when I say, "I just want five more minutes of sleep," or, "I just want my doctor to call me back," or, "I just want to watch one more episode of Grey's Anatomy before I go to sleep," what I'm really saying is, "the thing I want most right this instant is _____."

I think this is both good and bad, right?

The benefit of this little mantra, is that it keeps me in the moment. Within the span of one day, I can "just want" more sleep, more time, more snuggles, more coffee. Clearly, each time I utter it I've forgotten that an hour ago I "just wanted" something else. Sometimes it makes sense that this little want passes, because maybe I do sleep another five minutes, or do refill my coffee cup. Other times, I forget about it. And other times it joins up with some other insidious mental baggage and ends up on repeat.

This is one possible downside.

Often, I don't actually want another cup of coffee, I'm just in the habit of getting another cup. This happened with the "I just want another hour of sleep" mantra. I was perpetually tired not because I hadn't had enough sleep, but because I kept hearing, "I just want another hour of sleep."

More frequently, something becomes a perma-mantra that sounds like, "I just want one more episode" but really is, "For some reason I think one more episode will make me happy."

Does this happen to you?

I'm in this process right now of journaling. It's been awhile. I have project-oriented journals and to-do lists, but I haven't kept an honest-to-God JOURNAL in a long, long time. The trouble with journaling is that your mental patterns and writing patterns become painfully obvious.

This is how I know I say "I just want" when I really mean to say that I'm tired, hungry, lonely, or bored. I say it rather than thinking. I attribute this false happiness to all sorts of things I think I want that do not make me happy.

Now I feel compelled to ask myself various questions like:
1. Is this statement true? (Thanks, Byron Katie)
2. Is this the most accurate way of describing this experience?
3. Why am I limiting my wanting?

My "want" button was broken for a very long time, and I think this is a symptom of continued malfunctioning want. When my income was very limited, I never went to a restaurant and asked myself what I wanted to eat, I was always looking for the cheapest option. When I was vegan, I always looked for the vegan option. I never asked myself, "what seems most delicious?"

I think the "just" was the next phase of patching up my want, and now I need to get more specific.

I want to be happy. And free from suffering. So I'm getting specific.

And letting the rest of the chatter go.