As children, we experienced tremendous joy and an intrinsic desire to acquire something as we stood in front of a shelf full of toys. It is a human instinct to satiate ourselves using any means, whether it be through receiving basic life necessities such as food and shelter, or any products that bring us happiness. Even toddlers express their desires for things such as crayons or ice cream, even though a good life is possible without these items. From a very young age, people understand that being partially satisfied is not enough. We always unconsciously crave to fulfill our hearts to the fullest extent.
On the other hand, people also realize that it is nearly impossible to have a satiated heart. As children stare at a collection of toys and automatically start picturing themselves being surrounded by them, they are not aware of an incoming life lesson. Uttered by parents, this short phrase sounds like a curse: “you can only choose one”.
Despite different life experiences and personalities, people are similar to each other, as we rarely get all that we want. Toddlers throw tantrums as soon as they are vaguely aware of this, while adults are ready to embrace this as a fact that applies to almost all aspects of life. The difference is that children don’t understand why we can’t have everything while adults do. We are aware of the inevitable trade-offs between things we covet and things we already possess. In addition, adults recognize that conflicts may appear among their yearnings. Even if we indeed received all that we fancied, the state of being satiated does not last long.
“You can only choose one” not only applies to choosing merchandise, but also to planning for college life, finding jobs, making friends, and so on. It is not easy for children to understand that they can only pick one toy, because their parents have to trade money for it. However, it is easy for us to understand that among socializing, studying and sleeping, you can only choose up to two. Before entering college, people still desire to get a life that will be evenly distributed among these three tasks, despite hearing about its impossibility for a long time. As their class standing ascend, the tradeoff becomes clear and people realize that no matter how hard they try to reach a balance, they can only partially satisfy their goal of an ideal college life, not to the fullest degree.
Even within individuals, our hearts can crave for things that are conflicted with each other, such as popularity against personal space and comfort against challenge. You may dream that one day you will befriend various groups of people and be the center of a party. However, you may also incline towards peacefully spending a whole day with yourself and your favorite movies. The painful thing is that you realize you actually prefer both. It is difficult enough to find a compromise for conflicting needs, not to mention actually tending to them.
It is also difficult to satiate our hearts because our aspirations change more rapidly than we expect. We may find ourselves being able to satisfy some of our past ambitions but refrain from doing so because now we long for other things. Standing in the mall, you accidentally spot the fifty-dollar necklace that you wished for in high school but your parents refused to pay, and left without buying it because now you wish for a two-hundred-dollar pair of AirPods.
This also applies to society, as social groups’ needs have been periodically changing throughout history, indicating that people’s desires are volatile and thus, not easily satiated. Even when we indeed satisfy our needs at that moment, the happiness is only temporary. When we reach a state of satiation, we immediately have a new determination of maintaining this feeling for as long as possible. Nevertheless, this will not be accomplished easily.
The trick may be to seek something that will keep you satisfied on a spiritual level, so that you can be your own source of pleasure. For example, if you desire to be a nice friend, then every time you say kind words to others and receive their appreciation, you may feel a sense of contentment. In this way, your satiation does not depend on a merchandise, but on your own words and behaviors.