Wishing for More Will Leave You Empty and Unfulfilled

Today I noticed a disturbing truth in the way we humans live our lives. It is a fundamental flaw in how we interact with everything around us and the people we have chosen to love.

It all started by looking at my own life choices and then considering the alternative paths my wife has walked. After that, I dug around on Google, snooped into other people’s stories, and came up with a disquieting trend.

It doesn’t matter how much money, love, power, or luck we have or how much we have accomplished — most of us will never find satisfaction or feel fulfilled in our lifetimes.

Why are we always looking at the greener grass on the other side of the fence? How many times have you seen the meme that says, “Remember when you wished for what you have now,” and ignored it because it didn’t apply to you?

Why are we always wishing for more and different and are never satisfied with the reality that we have created out of life’s chaos?

Why is more never enough?

I Was Never Happy with Anything I Had

I was searching for most of my young adult life, and as hard as I looked for something to make my life have meaning, I never woke up enough to realize I had what I wanted all along.

I had a wife who loved me, but I ignored her. I had kids who thought I was the best dad in the world, but I didn’t spend time with them because I was always working to buy things we didn’t need and nobody wanted.

I was poor but walked through life with all the privileges my white skin and sense of entitlement could give me. I had opportunities that many others didn’t, but I ignored them and complained about what I didn’t have.

I wanted more and different.

Yes, my life was difficult. I had a severe illness to deal with, but there was more going on than being sick. Instead of taking responsibility for what was happening to me, I tried to find a place or a person to lay the blame on. I cursed the religion I grew up in for making me weak. I screamed against the unfairness of growing up impoverished and uneducated. I even blamed the woman I married for my shortcomings.

I had more than many but was never fulfilled. I never expressed gratitude to the people who helped me get to where I was despite my life obstacles. I never stopped and looked around at what I had and thanked the universe for helping me get it.

I was selfish.

It wasn’t until much later that, against all the odds, I had another chance at life. After a horrible event in my life, I stopped and looked around at what I had and the people who loved me. I had a wife who adored me and counted on me to be there for her. I had a daughter, and later another son, and they love me with passion. My parents are still alive, and although they are on the other side of the globe, they are a huge part of my life and who I am.

Even after my first marriage fell apart, grown-up boys respected me as a father. And even though distance has made us strangers, I have high hopes we will be a family again one day.

I have a vast new group of online friends that are every bit as important as real-life ones. I’m a member of a big writing community that is supportive and, frankly, full of the best friends I’ve ever had, online or otherwise.

I have a house that protects me from the things in the outside world that I can’t control and gives me a place where I feel safe when my mind has taken over and trying to destroy me. I’m working and writing and I have the opportunity to support myself and my family.

I’m doing things now I only dreamed of doing in those feverish dreams of the past when the best I could do was eat and live one day at a time.

I have more confidence than I’ve ever had and feel motivated to wake up every day and share my life with others worldwide through my writing.

I am a video producer who creates art that makes other people happy. My illness is finally allowing me to do things I couldn’t do before.

I have a lot to be grateful for, and I wake up every day glad that I have what I do.

So why do I still feel like I am behind in the race? Why do I feel like I should have accomplished more by this point in my life? Why am I pushing myself to earn more, do more, and have things that are still out of reach?

Why am I not fulfilled with my life and wishing for more and different?

My Wife is On the Long Road

The past few years have seen my wife and I have long, honest discussions, and one of the problems we have hit upon is that she, too, feels dissatisfaction with her life. She knows she shouldn’t feel that way because she has everything she ever dreamed of as a little girl. But, no matter how much she gets, she is always left feeling like she missed out on something and that her life should be so much more.

She wants more and different.

I know she wants to get that degree she never received and has dreamed of starting a charity for street animals. We’ve been discussing whether she feels like the things she has, like a family and home, are keeping her from what she really wants to be doing. I know she wants me to take her to live in the USA, my childhood home, and she won’t be whole until she does.

But, frankly, she is a mystery to me, and as much as I think I finally understand her, she proves me wrong every time. Like me, she doesn’t see that she already has everything she needs.

But she keeps looking for something else, something better. She is chasing a dream but can’t figure out what that dream entails.

She and I are on a failed voyage to find something different than what we have now.

Why, as humans, do we always feel unsatisfied with what we have?

It’s Not Just Us

My wife and I aren’t by any means unique because we feel the way we do. Look around you! Why do you think you spend so much time working, only to waste your money on garbage like iPhones and designer clothes?

We are all looking for something — some value, some meaning, some answers — and we sadly think we will find it with a maxed-out credit card and a $0 bank balance.

We are continually looking for something because, no matter how much we have, we always feel like we need more. We don’t want to miss out on anything, because that BMW or new leather coat may be the one thing that can give our life meaning, couldn’t it?

But, when we do get what we want, we find that our mind tricked us, and it was a completely different thing we wanted all along.

It’s a never-ending cycle until we are on our deathbeds and realize that we had everything we wanted all along, but we were too blinded by more and different to see it.

How Do We Stop This Madness?

I don’t know how to stop this treadmill I labor on day after day. I don’t know how to flip the switch and start to realize that I almost have everything I need in life.

I don’t need a million dollars. Would it be nice? Yes, but isn’t it just a want?

How do I turn off the part of me that wants stuff and will push myself to do anything to satisfy that small part of who I am?

There is one thing that will save me, I know.

There is one thing that truly helped me in the past and will be the key to getting me off the chain gang of never-ending want.

It is gratitude.

As I sat alone in the hospital, I realized I didn’t need any more than I already had. All I had to do was be grateful and stop wishing for things I never really wanted.

Did that mean I gave up my dreams? No, I still want to travel and have a successful writing career. I still want to know the feeling of making it through a month where I have money left over at the end.

But I don’t need to forsake everything and everyone else to get what I want. I’m happy with what I have that has fulfilled my needs, and I will keep working on getting a few of those things that are nice to have.

I know that sitting and staring at the hospital’s white walls was where my mindset shifted, and I started realizing what I was doing to myself and my family. All these questions I brought up today finally came to the surface so I could analyze and debate them.

I recognized I already had much more than I ever thought I did. Every day, as I think about finding the answers to all these questions, I discover something else I have to be grateful for, and it keeps a smile on my face.

I still push myself for more and different. So does my wife. But we are starting to realize we don’t need to kill ourselves to get things we don’t need in the first place.

We don’t have any four-step plans or practices that would fill a book on how to be happy and satisfied with our lives, but I repeat this sentence for my wife, and for the rest of us who think we want more at the expense of what we already have:

Be grateful every day for who and what you do have.

Because if you look hard enough, you will find that you have more than you ever dreamed possible.

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