Whenever you feel like you want something, ask yourself this simple question: if I got what I think I want, then what would that do for me? Most of the time, the thing you think you want is not something you really want deeply. Usually, it’s just a mask for something else – something much deeper. By asking this question repeatedly until you reach something that doesn’t stand in for anything else, you can figure out what you really want.
For example, if you see a $250 000 red Ferrari drive by, and experience a strong feeling of desire – Oh, I’d be so happy if only I had a Ferrari! – your pattern of questions and answers might go something like this:
If I had a Ferrari, then what would that do for me?
It would prove that I was rich and successful.
If I could prove that I was rich and successful, then what would that do for me?
My brother, the marathon-running vascular surgeon, would have more respect for me.
If my brother had more respect for me, then what would that do for me?
I would feel loved and accepted.
If I felt loved and accepted, then what would that do for me?
I would feel secure.
If I felt secure, then what would that do for me?
I would have a deep sense of inner peace.
If I felt a deep sense of inner peace, then what would that do for me?
Ummm… I’d feel a deep sense of inner peace…?
Usually, you’ll converge after a few question-answer steps onto something much deeper and more fundamental than your initial wish. For example, “inner peace” isn’t something that you want for any reason other than it feels really good to have inner peace. The same is true of all deeper desires – you may wind up with words like oneness, happiness, love, liberation, and so forth. Ultimately, these words only go a certain distance in describing such deep, positive states of existence. The only way to really understand these states is to experience them first hand.
All of us have fantasies of “perfect” lives of absolute ease and total abundance, where all our material needs and desires are met instantly. Using that simple question – if I got what I think I want, then what would that do for me? – you can leverage these superficial fantasies to uncover your deepest and most authentic wishes. Suppose that you were the person in the example above, and you already had your desired state of “inner peace”. In that case, the experience of owning and/or driving a Ferrari would be entertaining if it actually happened, but ultimately it would be irrelevant. After all, your would already have satisfied your underlying desire for “inner peace”. What more could you need?
When you can create for yourself such deep positive feelings and inner states, then you can transform your experience of being human and living in the world from a stressful competition into an enjoyable game. Since you’ve already “won” the real game that you’re playing inside yourself, you can play the game in the world outside yourself for fun. You can release any attachment to concepts like “winning”, “losing” or “results” in the outer game, and simply enjoy exploring the experience and sharing it with others.
See you on the playing field! 🙂
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