Desire What You Have and Feel More Satisfied in Life

“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” ~Hyman Schachtel

I have a chime with the words “Desire what you have” painted on the front of it. It hangs from the window to the left of my desk in the treehouse where I write. I bought it a few years ago as an epiphany purchase.

It was one of those times when I was sucked into the vortex of a boutique in Minneapolis, the wallet in my pocket a burning inferno. I saw this beautiful painted chime dangling from the ceiling and I was so struck by the message, I put out the fire out and put my money on the counter.

I am so glad I did.

I love the simple wisdom of the phrase: Desire what you have.

If we desire what we have then no matter what our possessions, we are rich.

I love coming across it again and again because it reminds me to be aware of my thoughts and to be aware of what I have and what I am now. I need to be reminded.

When I sat down to begin writing I was looking for inspiration in The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. I came across this quote by the Dalai Lama:

“…our moment-to-moment happiness is largely determined by our outlook.  In fact, whether we are feeling happy or unhappy at any given moment often has very little to do with our absolute conditions but, rather it is a function of how we perceive our situation, how satisfied we are with what we have.”

I have noticed by listening to my thoughts that I spend a ridiculous amount of time wanting to be more than I am. I rarely, if ever, sit back and bask in my accomplishments and who I am now. I unwittingly live in a state of personal dissatisfaction.

“When I publish my first book, then I will be a writer,” I tell myself. “When my website is perfect, when my teaching is perfect, when I have many articles published in Oprah Magazine, when I am no longer nervous before I begin teaching a new class—then I will feel like I have arrived at my own doorstep.”

Meanwhile, I ignore the person I am right now–my feet up on this couch in the treehouse, my children healthy and vibrant, my dog Dharma curled up next to me, writing this essay–because I have convinced myself that I am not complete. That I have to strain and strive and be better to deserve this blessed life.

I don’t think these things consciously. These thoughts run unsupervised through my head until I take the time to notice them and really hear what I’m saying to myself. And then I realize all of this self-talk is crazy talk.

If I can’t accept myself and what I am now, then I will never accept myself. It’s a way of thinking, of practicing non-acceptance of myself over and over and over.

This is yet another reason I must write. I must have a way to reveal this crazy talk, to call it out for what it is so I can be aware of it and slowly change it.

If I write it, not only have I taken the time to draw it out and contemplate it, I can see it in literal black and white, staring back at me. And when I am able to look my thoughts in the eye and see them for what they are, I can then challenge them.

In the pages of my journal, I sow seeds of change. Some are slow to grow, others just need a little light and attention to take hold and flourish.

It is necessary to be aware of what we want in this life. However, it is a delicate balance that must be tempered by an abiding awareness of what we have.

Life is now. I have arrived at the doorstep of myself. In fact, I’ve been standing here the whole time.

Photo by hang_in_here

About Janna Krawczyk

Janna Brayman Krawczyk lives in Minneapolis with her two children & husband. She’s written in a journal for over half of her life and has finally accepted that life is not easy, yet our struggles and obstacles are what inspire insight and wisdom. She shares the art & practice of journaling through her classes, workshops, and website,

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  • anonymous

    GREAT advice from someone who lives their life in a constant state of personal dissatisfaction. It's nice to hear that I'm not alone!

  • i just wrote about this – thanks for sharing.

  • This was such an awesome post. I came across your blog a few weeks ago and have really enjoyed reading. I am a yoga teacher, and constantly remind my students to “celebrate their victories” no matter how small it may appear to them, we can only put one foot in front of the other, one at a time. Please keep sharing from your heart – and singing your “unsupervised thoughts” into the universe. What a beautiful melody they make.
    Jessica Durivage
    Social Media Director

  • Mark

    ” In fact, I’ve been standing here the whole time.”
    Love it. Mark, New Zealand

  • Beautiful sentiments Janna. The desire for more and more should be replaced by the desire for cherishing what we have. If we are enough then we have enough. Life is now, it's never any other time!

  • Megan

    So true…. The beautiful, unencumbered, free thinking mind of my 5 year old came up with something similar last night. She looks around her pretty little room filled with color and toys and says “Mom, I think we are rich, look at all these wonderful things we have!” From the mouths of babes…. Sometimes we need to remember to sit back and acknowledge all we have and enjoy it with the simple joy's of a child's heart.

  • Thank you so much for the reminder to be grateful for what we already have . . . we are rich!

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

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  • Mantra73

    thankyou :). I now know Im not alone.

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  • Hwisda20

    This is amazing! It is so important to Enjoy Now.. those are the two words that I am most grateful for in the English Language… so simple but so true. We only have now and the best feeling in the world is to enjoy… so why would we torture ourselves and live any other way? Love your post <3

  • Nupur1008

    What ever has been created by God is not permanent.. Like flower, rain, relationship, love etc .. Take flower- it blooms up for a day or two , spread its beauty, color n    Fragrance n fades away… Take rain- it rains n make nature look more beautiful n refreshing. He adds a special flavour in His gifts and if you admire Him you ll find your gift as well. All the beautiful things created by Him comes in this world for few moments and you have to live it in that very moment instead of expecting/ dreaming it to be with you through out your life. And if you have learned to live His gift in and for the moment it has been created by Him for you, no one ever will be able to take it away from you…

  • ‘I’m not lost, I know exactly where I am, I am right here.’ I have no idea where this came from, but I remember seeing it on a postcard with a sheep in the middle of no where on it…