That is the title of a Rolling Stones song we’ve known for quite sometime. We have been singing along for decades. This is straight out of the 1960’s self conscious times. I just like to re visit the idea of the song because there is a lot of useful stuff in the concept of satisfaction (that I hope) the Stones were trying to make at the time; even though the Stones were never known to have preachy lyrics, you just had to talk about real stuff back then. Getting what we want is a big issue because this is how we busy our lives from morning to night.
You can’t always get what you want but are you happy when you finally do? If that’s the case can you also buy happiness? For most people it seem to be possible, and everyone thinks Mick Jagger can always get what he wants because he is rich. Everyone thinks Mick Jagger is the happiest person and for the rest of us there is only hope. There is a reason why Mick is lucky, and maybe he still not satisfied, but that we’ll never know and that’s the point of this post.
What you want and what you need are kind of the same thing. But our egos are geniuses at convincing us that what we want is what we need. Of course there are the basic necessities of life like food and shelter but I am not talking about these and I don’t think the Stones were either: they were talking about being happy with what you have. This was a big concern in the 60’s and we should revisit it.
The argument for our needs and wants is endless. We quickly justify our wants as needs: I need this to be happy – “I need it because I’ve been working hard and I’ve got to have it and I deserve it”. Are we happy after we actually get what we want and work so hard for it? Most people are not, so they look pathetically full and unsatisfied like an overwhelmed child after opening a zillion gifts at Christmas.
Some people don’t even know what they want in the first place; some blindly just want more and more. Regardless of what our desires are, things and situations in our life appear to come to us whether we want them or not. All the work we put into getting stuff as quickly as we can may or may not determine our luck in life. Our consistent efforts and where we place our attention and energy might have much more power then our raw desire to have things – whatever that may be, materially or spiritually.
We plan the outcome of events but they appear to have a mind of their own. Sometimes we don’t expect things to be great and they are, then we try to repeat the same experience it just doesn’t work. We just don’t have the control we think we do and sometimes it feels as if we are just drifting at sea. You run into unexpected good or bad luck, a friend leads you to a great job, you meet a woman, you have children and things get even more complex: you never know what’s going to happen to your life. I think events turn out one way or the other due to our collection of past actions. Everything we do up to the present point in time is way bigger than our momentary hard efforts to get what we want; our recent actions are like the tip of the iceberg, our whole life up to the present is the submerged part. And then there is the past lives but we’re not going there.
Some people live from day to day, some have dreams of becoming something, and some want to be like someone they believe is a happy person. Someone in the media who is rich and famous. We put great efforts in one certain direction and work really hard and when plans don’t turn out we fall apart. We believe these dreams to be attainable. But we try again are so sure they can get there we don’t care how much time and work goes into it.
If you rewind your life you may see this is a pattern dating way back and going all the way to today. Some people’s plans are more subjective and others are explicit. Even spiritual people want to become leaders so everyone will love and admire them. The problem is that there is a lot of pain in desiring something you don’t have and even more pain when you realize it wasn’t what you wanted in the first place.
I’m not advocating just sitting there and doing nothing, but I think our plans might be deceptive and we should not put so much energy into them; instead we should do things just for the simple pleasure of doing them and not focus on the result. Sometimes it takes so much time for things to materialize that we don’t even remember what caused to do or worse we don’t even remember what we wanted in the first place. I think relaxing and enjoying our hard work is better than the results of something we might never get.
Can you recall a moment in your life when you felt just very happy? For no special reason you felt happy in the middle of the day, no visit from friends, just a regular day but you felt happy to just be there? These moments are rare, but they do exist. Maybe enlightenment is just that. I think sometimes we fail to see the transformations and the changes right before our eyes. Perhaps because we are always so busy with our plans we don’t have time to see what’s going on in the present. Maybe we already have what we’ve been dreaming of, but because we are working so hard to get something we fail to notice the magic. Maybe if we pay really close attention to what is around us we can begin to notice how amazing everything is and see that the dream is almost of no use because we are already in it. Just the fact that we are alive should be enough.
Just think about the chances of your being alive at this moment. Death is only a few breaths away. Every time you draw a breath of fresh air your blood is pumped through your lungs where it becomes saturated with oxygen and in seconds all your cells and organs are nourished and life gets another chance. We became so busy running around that we don’t have time to notice things anymore. Sometimes we should just sit and do nothing, but we can’t help ourselves, we are these busy bees and we rush to do something because we can’t stop thinking and doing things.
So why is Mick Jagger so lucky? I just think he worked hard for many years doing something he genuinely enjoys. I guess anybody who can do that is lucky. Is he satisfied? Does it matter? To worry whether other people are satisfied or not won’t do a thing. I don’t really know and you have to ask him. A while back he could get no satisfaction…but maybe that has changed.
And then there is that Bob Marley song…
Image credit: Helga Weber