That may sound like a confusing title but it’s only because it’s the goddamn key to everything in your entire universe in four words. You have to want the right things.
New guiding principle: for a life to be well-lived, you gotta get the wants right. You gotta want the right things and not want the wrong things and (unless you’re a Buddhist master) not want nothing.
For example, wanting one big thing isn’t healthy. Say you want a big statue of a half-dragon-half-chicken but it costs $3 million dollars because why wouldn’t it. You can work your whole life saving up for that dragon-chicken thing. Think of nothing else. Compare yourself to those who have beast-fowl-hybrid statues of their own. And then the day comes when you can finally get one, and you do, and you’re happy for like a day but then you feel empty inside because you no longer have a goal. And there’s no one to celebrate with because everyone has long since stopped talking to you because all you ever talked about was getting that damn statue.
More likely the statue is a big house or early retirement or something, but you get what I’m saying.
On the other hand, wanting too little is no good either. You’ll get some disease no one gets anymore because you live in a damp mouldy basement you don’t want to clean. And when you do go outside people won’t talk to you in the street because you never wanted to take a shower and your breath smells like 1996 because that’s the last time you brushed your teeth because you never wanted to do that either.
So you gotta want the happy medium — a couple steps up from a happy meal, but not expecting healthy delicious meals prepared by a personal chef. You gotta want some nice veggies and a well-cooked piece of meat or pile of beans or whatever you eat that makes your body go “woo!”
You gotta know what to want so you can keep living in the sweet spot. And one way to do that is to manipulate yourself into being happy (or at least prevent yourself from becoming a murderous savage) in part with the right wants. Keep wanting just a little bit more, all the time. Enough to keep going, but not enough to ever be so satisfied that you start to slingshot down into the abyss of depression.
If I can say anything about the last year of my life it’s that my wants disappeared. There was nothing I could point to and say, “Yeah, I want that!” (Well, maybe a Nintendo Switch but after I got one of those the list was empty again.)
This was not a good or comfortable place to be. Maybe I was partly burnt out. Maybe I was partly depressed. Maybe I was paralysed by choice of having so many options of where I could point my life next. I don’t know. But I do know a major focus for me now is to want things, and then adjust those wants accordingly. I gotta get some down on paper, deal with the unreasonable ones and stoke the ones that will keep me in the sweet spot.
I’m not sure a lot of people have issues with this. I know I do.
So. Get your wants right. Then go get those things that you want. Then repeat. Then keep doing that over and over until you die and you should have lived a good life.