“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.” – Mark Manson
“When there is no desire, all things are at peace.” – Lao Tzu
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.” – Epicurus
“In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Amplified Bible
Sometimes it feels like the things I write about have little to do with imparting wisdom and imploring others to see things differently. Often, the much larger impact comes in the form of self-analyzing my personal thoughts and actions – revealing areas of my own life that need a change in course. The ideas surrounding our desire for more and a mindset of discontentment hit home with me as I have struggled with these concepts most of my life.
Perfectionism has plagued me since childhood. Looking at my ancestors, it seems to be an inbred and inescapable trait. Genetics play a part, however; I shoulder equal responsibility for the horrible effect it has had on me and those who have shared my life. Spoken like a true perfectionist! 😊
When nothing is perfect, then everything seems inadequate. Can any of you relate?
I can also shamefully blame my management career on the incessant need to look for areas of improvement, to never be satisfied with the status quo, and to push yourself and others to higher levels of performance. Good was never good enough and once a goal was met, there were ALWAYS bigger and better goals to attain. Twenty-five plus years in that kind of an environment has a way of brainwashing a person.
Society places particular emphasis on the need for more. Think of how media drives our desire for better cars, bigger vacations, larger homes, and picture-perfect mates. It sets a standard in our minds that isn’t realistic or even feasible. People are always happy, youthful, and spend more time on leisure activities than they do on work and mundane, necessary routines. Subconsciously, we feel cheated. We want what it seems like everyone else possesses, but we know down deep it’s unachievable.
I love how Mark Manson points out the paradox of desiring more. When we desire better, more positive things, we end up creating more negative, unsatisfied, and discouraging thought patterns. In essence, in the moments of desire we are basically unsatisfied with what we currently have – a form of suffering. If we can learn to do the opposite – accept the negative and appreciate what we have, positivity and gratitude begin to flourish – setting in motion all that is right and good within our lives once more.
But what creates contentment? How can we change this paradox of desire into something wonderfully satisfying again? How can we avoid spoiling all that is already good and gracious about our lives?
As with everything in our life, it centers around our God – seeing Him as the Source and embracing His directive of thankfulness in all circumstances.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how God’s command for us to love Him was more about loving us than demanding our love and allegiance to Him (A Desire to be Loved). The same is true about His command to be grateful and thankful. It’s less about praise and adoration and more about our happiness 😊 When you think deeply about these commands, you begin to see the true nature and tremendous love of our Creator 😊
In the middle of our desire for more is a God who is the Source of all things – fully capable of meeting any need we have. That sovereignty is coupled with His enduring love for us. When you embrace these two characteristics of God, is our desire really something a loving God wants for us? If nothing is impossible for Him, then is our current lack not really lack at all?
When you begin to look at it through the lens of His power to provide and His steadfast love for us, you can see why we should be thankful and grateful in all circumstances – fully confident we have EXACTLY what we need in the moment!
I know…. That doesn’t make it easier to be grateful in the sickness, satisfied in the loneliness, and pleased with scarcity and insufficiency, but it does say a lot about those conditions we find ourselves in and their connection to our overall good and well-being. If God has allowed it, then His grace is sufficient for us, and our circumstances are meeting our needs in ways we cannot fathom 😊 It is why He implores us to be thankful in all things – knowing all things are working together for our good in the long run 😊
I had a friend share this quote – one he reads everyday before he leaves his house:
“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Live in faith that the whole world is on your side as long as you are true to the best that is in you!” – Christian D. Larson
Even in lack, we can make a list of all the areas of our life where there is surplus! Focusing on the sunny side of everything creates a continual mindset of thankfulness that God desires for us.
Personally, I want this for my life more than anything right now! How about you?
All I need is all I have right now. Nothing is lacking. God is supplying all my needs in and through every good and bad circumstance I experience. He is that powerful and that loving!
In our desire for more, let’s trust Him! Let’s focus on all we DO HAVE – seeing it through the lens of His love and power. Let’s embrace the peace that comes with holding on to contentment regardless of our circumstances – knowing there is a sovereign providence at work within them – guiding us, loving us, and providing EXACTLY what we need.
Can we truly want anything more?
God bless! 😊