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What to Do If You Get What You Want

I spend a lot of time counseling students about how to soften the blow when disappointment hits or how to adjust when our expectations aren’t met. But there’s a fascinating other group that also comes seeking help, and it’s those who get what they want. You may be rolling your eyes right now at the poor people whose dreams come true and now can’t cope, but it’s a thing. According to the Beatles, who are probably the most famous people to have learned this style of meditation, they came to the practice not because anything had gone wrong in their life, but because they had the most of everything–they had more money, more women, more fame than anyone on earth, and on top of that great mountain of the most of everything they saw that there was no there there. This phenomenon happened to me a few times in my life, pre-meditation me. I remember being on a beach in Hawaii, everything was perfect–the sand, the weather, the company–and yet I was miserable. Even more miserable than I normally was because back home with my job and bills and other demands, I could just blame them for my disgruntled inner state, but here, sitting under a double rainbow, a coconut with a twisty straw in hand, there was nothing to blame. The contrast between the outer and the inner was stark, and made the stress and darkness within my inner self seem that much more glaring. When we want something and don’t get it, or worse, when things go really wrong, this discomfort pushes us to change and evolve. When we want something and we do get it, it exposes the truth that achievement and acquisition is not a means of true fulfillment, which also pushes us to change and evolve. These outer achievements and material additions, these are all relative. Since they are relative, it means that can be taken away, and this knowledge underlies all gains. Even the highest highs come with the worry that it could all come crashing down.

“Not only can nothing break you, nothing can make you either.”

If someone has had a lifetime of things going “their way,” then the desired occurrence just maintains their baseline. If the person has a history of things going against their wishes, there is no trust in fortune and that person is likely to sabotage the happiness, either because they don’t believe they deserve it or to head off the disappointment they believe is coming. So if I seem to be saying, you don’t get what you want and you’re miserable and you get what you want and you’re miserable, it’s not quite that bleak. What I’m saying as that your baseline inner state is not dependent on outside circumstances. When we meditate, we become more and more in touch with this truth. Not only can nothing break you, nothing can make you either." If things don’t go the way you want, it’s a bummer but you adapt quickly. If things go the way you do want, it’s cool and you also adapt quickly. Equanimity goes in both directions. You may be hesitant to let go of the intense high that can come with a win in a outcome dependent consciousness state. However, the immeasurable freedom and lightness that comes from finding your fulfillment within makes even the Beatles’ success pale in comparison.

 


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