With thanksgiving just around the corner, and my curious, psychology-loving mind on the wander, I thought I’d look into the subject of having and wanting.
Year after year, I cannot get over the consumerism that not only infiltrates our thanksgiving celebrations (seriously, have you been to Walmart in the week before that day? It’s a madhouse.), but explodes quite literally the evening of thanksgiving as Black Friday “must-have deals” begin and people frantically run to be one of the first 50 in a line.
We tend to think that wanting is related to not having something. If we get that thing, then we’ll no longer want, right? Well, not exactly. Recent research suggests that our brains actually become more hooked on the want of a reward to the point that the stimulus of the reward itself is only a blip on our mind’s radar (>Anselme & Robinson, 2016). In other words, a desire for feel-good hormones motivates our constant search for the next thing. The prize itself isn’t the prize we seek.
I believe the opposite of wanting is not having, but rather contentment. This is why it’s so important to stop and take time to be grateful. If you do what comes naturally to you, you’ll be running in the never-ending hamster wheel trying to “arrive.” It’s a very me-centered way to live.
A content, thankful heart gives; a wanting heart takes.
If you find yourself making your Christmas wish list already, but haven’t taken time to let the people around you know that you appreciate them, I’d encourage you to reassess your priorities. If you are stressing out about everything you need to do to host a Thanksgiving that will receive accolades on social media, but aren’t present to the very people who you’ll be celebrating with, take a deep breath, shut off the phone, and be.
What motivates you? Is it a heart that is full, or one that can somehow never be full enough?
~Joylily, for the band
Anselme, P., & Robinson, M. J. F. (2016). “Wanting,” “liking,” and their relation to consciousness. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 42(2), 123–140. >http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xan0000090