The Lost Art of Authentic Wanting


"...burnout and being overwhelmed are signs
that you need to look at
what is taking energy and attention
away from your desires."

Dan Neuharth
Secrets You Keep From Yourself

One of the things I most love about my dogs is their simple ability to be crystal clear about what they want.

And quite frankly, when I ask them if they want something, their answer is pretty much always, "YES!!! Oh, yes! Please! We want a walk, a bone, a brushing, some petting! Thank you! Yes!

Another magical thing about dogs is that, because they don't use language, no one has ever convinced them that their wants are not "acceptable" in some way.

Dogs don't feel guilty that they want yet another walk, even though they just had one half an hour ago. They don't worry that they're being selfish. If they can get another treat by asking someone else, they'll do it shamelessly.

Did you ever notice how relaxed and happy dogs are?


We humans, on the other hand, have learned to downplay our authentic wants:

  • I should be happy enough with what I already have.
  • I can't have what I really want.
  • It's not "spiritual" to want more.
  • What I want seems impractical, irresponsible, or selfish.
  • I can't even remember what I really want anymore.

Can you imagine a dog even considering any of these things?

Most of us learned at a very young age what was okay for us to want and what wasn't.

Some of us received mixed messages about wanting, like, "You can have whatever you want. Oh...well...except for that."

Or we were told, "You already have plenty; it's not nice to ask for more."

So we ignore our true wants. We tell ourselves to grow up or get serious or be grateful for what we have.

One reason that we end up overwhelmed, stressed, and burned out is that we push down our deepest wants and longings, and then start filling up our lives with all kinds of things to try to make up for what we really want.

We hope to take our minds off our deepest longings.

I don't know about you, but trying to make myself happy with things I don't truly want never works. I used to be able to pretend that it worked for awhile (years, even), but I'm no longer able to convince myself.

So I started giving myself permission to want what I really wanted.

And guess what? Most of my wants were as simple as the wants of my dogs: a nice walk in the sunshine, a nap, a good book, speaking my truth (okay, that one isn't always simple!), or saying no when I wanted so I could say yes to myself.

When you make space for the simple wants, the deeper longings can come to the forefront as well. And your authentic wants are what you are here for.

Just like my dogs love what they love, you have a right to love what you love... and to have it.