Guest Post: Do You Want It? Prove It.
By Josh Hanagarne, World’s Strongest Librarian
When someone tells me that a book has changed their life, I spend the next month or two watching them to see if I believe it. More often than not, they don’t change at all. Sometimes they believe they have. And sometimes they change for a day or a week and then fall back into old habits, thinking patterns, and behaviors.
I believe that they say their lives have changed because they wish it were true. Saying “this changed my life” implies that there were deficits in my life that needed some attention.
We all have things we want to change. Why then, do so few of us change in the ways that we say we want to?
Do we really want to change?
It is easy to say we want things. It is easy and it is natural.
I want that car. I want a hamburger. I want to be thin. I want to be happy. I want to bench 300 pounds. I want to learn how to surf. I want to have a popular blog. I want to feel better about myself. I want to get laid. I want to listen more and talk less. I want to read more books. I want to get married. I want to get divorced. I want peace of mind…
When I hear someone say, “I want,” what I usually hear behind it is, “I wish.” If I am right to hear this, I believe it is part of the problem. Wishes occupy the same territory as fairy tales. Wishes belong with shooting stars and birthday candles and, according to Seinfeld, wishes are also the province of the ripped out eyelash.
Wishes are pleasant, safe, and don’t require effort or commitment. Okay, ripping out an eyelash isn’t pleasant, but you get the picture.
I live in a country where wishful thinking and overeating threaten to replace baseball as the national pastime. I’m no fan of baseball, but I’m even less supportive of habitual complaining for its own sake.
Wishes do not have deadlines.
When I want something, I usually get it. This is because when I truly want something, I create a plan of how to get it and I put a deadline on it.
Now, saying, “I want to be happy one week from today,” is not really what I’m getting at. Rather, that problem of being unhappy has to be taken apart. What are the symptoms of the unhappiness? Most likely, there are many things that could be improved, and each one of them can be assigned a deadline. Break a massive problem into small chunks and get yourself some small victories.
It is hard to be unhappy when you are making demonstrable progress.
When I say I want something and I don’t get it, I either reevaluate my strategy or I reclassify my want as a wish. No harm done. Lesson learned.
If you want something, you will get it. Otherwise, maybe you didn’t want it as much as you thought. Or maybe you just like to mention to people that you want things so they know you have something lacking in your life.
I’ve been there, but I’m not going back.
I have extreme Tourette’s Syndrome and there are days when it absolutely wrecks my life. I can’t say, “I want this to go away” and set a deadline on it and cure myself. Don’t beat yourself up if you have truly uncontrollable circumstances that can’t go away just because you want them to.
But don’t let yourself get too comfortable, either. I accept that I have Tourette’s, but I reject the hell out of the idea that it needs to have any control over me. If that happens, I am letting it happen.
When I let yourself down, when I slip up—I get on my own case exactly as much as I need to in order to fix the problem…but no more.
Self-pity is poison. Misery is worse. The two are soul mates and if you let them, they’ll start making decisions for you.
Life is too short. Decide what you want and go get it. If you are more comfortable wishing, there is nothing wrong with that, but don’t complain when things don’t change.
Go. Hustle. Move. Change things for the better.
I’ll be doing the same.
Get Stronger, Get Smarter, Live Better…Every Day
About the Author: Josh Hanagarne is the twitchy giant behind World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog about living with Tourette’s Syndrome, kettlebells, book
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