Most of our desires last for only a moment or two.
A person might spy a snack that looks good at the checkout and wants it, but if that person waits a few minutes, it’s forgotten.
A person might see a coffee shop drive-thru on the way to work and feels really tempted, but if that person keeps driving, that coffee shop is forgotten a few blocks later.
A person might spot a really interesting magazine at the store, but if they just walk away from it, that magazine fades completely out of memory.
Other desires last and last and last.
Parents often dream about raising well-balanced and independent children. It’s a desire that starts with that first ultrasound and never really ends.
Creative types never stop dreaming about completing that book or that song or that album or that film. The desire to create might wax and wane, but it never goes away.
Many married couples want to always have a relationship just as enjoyable and deep as the one they had on the day they got married.
Some desires last. Others don’t.
Time and time again, I’ve found that ignoring the short term desires and listening mostly to the long term desires leads to a truly happy life.
In a given day, I might find that I have a bunch of desires that pop up on the spur of the moment. I might desire a savory snack, for example. I might drive by the bookstore and really want to go in. I might want to stop working for a while and instead play a computer game.
If I just ignore those desires in the moment, they’re usually forgotten within a few minutes. My mind moves on to something else.
Sometimes, certain desires and dreams pop up again and again. I think about spending time with my children, or with my wife. I dream about writing a novel. In the winter, my thoughts often turn to spending time outside on a nice day.
The desires that pop up over and over are the ones worth paying attention to. When you act on them, they’re almost always deeply fulfilling.
The next time you’re tempted to spend some money or some time on some spur-of-the-moment item or activity, just walk away from it. Most of the time, you won’t even remember what it was in a few minutes. Instead, use that time and money for something that either sets up or fulfills a long-term desire. You’ll find quickly that those kinds of expenditures are deeply satisfying and lead to a financially and emotionally powerful life.