Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Positive Desire

The problem of seeking happiness is that it's always a step out of reach. If it were present, then there would be no seeking. We are always looking for a future situation that promises better feelings than the one we have right now. As soon as we get that situation, we imagine a better one just out of reach of the present so that the cycle of dissatisfaction continues. From the emaciated poor starving for food to the anorexic rich starving for attention, there seems to be no escape from this mental wiring of insatiable desire.

It's not exactly desire that is the problem but its tenor of dissatisfaction. What if there was a way to desire happily? Positively expectant salivation over a meal is qualitatively different from a hunger pang though they share the desire to eat. At the other end of desire is fulfillment or the failure to fulfill. Can the failure to fulfill be reliably avoided or prevented from causing disappointment? Failure loses its sting when you know it's temporary. It's just a mistake that can be corrected. The mistake could be in an intermediate step toward attaining the goal or even a mistake in choosing the goal. Disappointment occurs in proportion to the perceived permanence of the failure state.

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