The Source of Dissatisfaction
by unknown author

So where does the fault lie? Who or what is responsible for our continual failure to experience the happiness and peace we are so desperately searching for? To answer this question, let us look closely once more at the way ordinary desire works. Feeling somehow incomplete, insecure and unfulfilled, we look outside ourselves for something or someone that will make us feel whole either consciously or subconsciously we feel, ‘If only I had such-and-such, then I would be happy!’ With this thought as our impulse we try to possess whatever attractive object seems most likely to fulfill our desire. In the process we turn the object into an idol, overestimating its attractive qualities until it bears little resemblance to its actual nature.

In our attempt to gain possession of this overestimated object of desire, we may be either successful or unsuccessful. If we are unsuccessful in our striving – if the object remains outside our grasp – then of course we are disappointed; the more we desire the object the more distraught we become when we are unable to possess it.

But what happens when we are successful, when we get what we want? What we end up with and what we hoped to end up with turn out to be two very different things. For what we find ourselves in possession of is not the longed-for dream image – the permanent, complete and ever-satisfying solution to our deepest problems – but something that is as imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent as we are ourselves. This person or thing may indeed give us some momentary pleasure, but it can never begin to live up to the expectations we have loaded upon it. And so sooner or later we feel cheated and bitterly disappointed.

Now to return to the original question, whom or what do we blame for our unhappiness? More often than not, we unreasonably blame the object. ‘If only she were prettier . . .’ ‘If only he treated me better . . .’ ‘If only the car were faster, or newer….’ If only this, if only that. These are the dualistic considerations that fill our head when, disappointed with what we have, we wonder what we could replace it with that would guarantee us the happiness we crave. The next thing we know we are searching for a new wife, or a new husband, or a new car, placing expectations on this new object that are just as unrealistic as the expectations we had placed on what we are now discarding. In this way we continue to circle around and around, changing this and that in our life but never really getting any closer to our desired happiness and peace of mind.

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