The Secret to Happiness? Get Used to Wanting

What do you want? To move? Get a promotion? Find a partner or ditch your current one? Now, more than ever, thanks to Social Media , we live in a world where the grass is always greener, and we have absolute proof: Zillions of pictures, tweets and humble brags confirming that our lives could (and should) be better. As a result, we want what they have.

We see it on Facebook : Big houses, perfect children, amazing vacations.

On Instagram, we’re pressing the little heart to show our love for aspirational lifestyles.

It’s hard to be satisfied with what you’ve got – especially when it’s less than perfect. When we look at our lives, it’s kind of like we see it through one of those fun filters we can use on our iPhone. We zoom in on what we want to see and all the other stuff is blurry and in the background.

What Happens When the Stuff We’re Blurring out Is the Good Stuff?

Zooming in on the crap doesn’t mean the good isn’t present, it’s just that we refuse to see it. We hold onto our zoomed in version of our lives and tell everyone, “See? I need to get out of here. I need something more. This is awful. Right?”

We’ve become expert at using the zoom from every angle. Instead of taking off the filter and recognizing that perfection is an illusion , we leap from want to want and need to need and change to change and are never satisfied. We still focus in on the bad and let the good fade into the background.

So you leap again.

This crazy thing happens when you stop wanting and longing and make the changes to get what your heart now desires… You still want something, just something else, something new.


Instead of always craving immediate change and living in a constant state of low-level dissatisfaction, the key is to get used to wanting. The wanting will always be present but it doesn’t mean that you need it.

My son will often tell me “I NEED” this or that. Maybe it’s time on a favorite game or to see a show that we’re trying to savor instead of binge watching. Despite how frustrated it makes him when I say it, I remind him that NEED and WANT are not the same things. Moreover, once you have it, you want something else – that’s the way it works.

Isn’t it Time to Change the Conversation about Wanting?

Our children want something, and we want to give it to them. We teach them from a young age that you can have what you want, but we never stop to reflect with them on how little acquisition, scratching the itch of that want, is little more than a dopamine hit.

Not every want and not every change is created equal .

Did it change your life?

Are you happier?

All of those things that annoyed you before, are they gone now or have new things crept in to take their place?

You may have all you need, but you want something more… and then you get it, and you still have wants. That’s part of being human.

Related: 10 Ways You’re Holding Yourself Back From the Life You Want to Lead

The Secret to Happiness

Instead of constant want, grow your ability to acknowledge the good that’s present now. Yes, sure, it may not be ideal, but there are still things that are worth appreciating.

The secret to a happy life is not to wait for it to be happy. You get to choose, happiness now instead of when all the pieces fall into place, or you sell your book, or you move to a new town.

You may discover that some of what you want really isn’t want you need when you take off that filter and see all that’s here for you now .

Are you running towards something or away? Are you putting off happiness for a zoomed in, Valencia, Juno, Lark filtered world that holds little resemblance to reality?