Life as I knew it came to a screeching halt the day the police arrived at my house to tell me they found my husband’s body.
He’d gone missing, and now he was dead. I thought I was going to go insane.
I had been consumed with the word “need” before my husband died.
I needed to keep my high paying job despite it being the most toxic environment I had ever known. It turned me into an awful person toward my husband and son. We lived in the best neighborhood in a large New York City apartment. He needed to keep his high paying job because his salary paid for the rent and utilities. It turned him into a stressed out ticking time bomb. I needed to appease him because he did not want to compromise the life we worked too hard to have.
We argued endlessly about money because there was never enough despite having comfortable lives. We had a nice car, nice clothes, an impressive stereo system, and a home to envy.
Then, one day, my husband left the house for work and never came home.
Suddenly, all the crap we had together became worthless. I barely had enough breath to pick myself up from the floor. My son had lost his father. And I nearly lost my mind over having lost my husband—the most valuable thing to me in the world. I struggled with the loss and searched for ways to recover from that horrendous tragedy.
The first place I went to was the yoga mat.
A few months after he died, I enrolled in an RYT 200-hour yoga teacher training program. I learned a lot, and it helped bring clarity and focus into my life at a time of terrible crisis. I learned that I should practice the yamas, which are:
>> Ahimsa (non-harming or non-violence in thought, word, and deed)
>> Satya (truthfulness)
>> Asteya (non-stealing or not taking what isn’t offered)
>> Brahmacharya (celibacy or “right use of energy”)
>> Aparigraha (non-greed or non-hoarding)
I began to ponder what each of these things meant to me. What does it mean to practice non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy of energy, and non-greed? I figured out that applying the yamas meant approaching life with want instead of need.
I don’t just mean for material things, but for everything in our lives.
Now for the question that continues to kick my ass: Why did it take my husband’s death to see the light and stop needing, and instead, begin wanting?
I wish he could have smelled the roses before he died. Life is far too short to be consumed with need.
Here are three things we can have in our lives by wanting instead of needing.
1. Meeting a potential friend.
Approach a person with “want.”
Want is always kinder than need. Need can be spotted. Need can lead to desperate behavior. Need can lead to violence, stealing, greed, and lying.
When you “want” to spend time with a person, the interaction is genuine and benevolent because there is no hidden agenda. There is no motive aside from experiencing the other person’s company. You fully pay attention to what that other person gives you.
Need can cloud things. If you only focus on your own superficial agenda, you won’t be aware of the agendas that others may have hidden behind the friendship. Need can overshadow the benevolence of a human being. Aim to be needless of anything superficial and be yourself, for it may allow the clarity to see if that person is worthy of your friendship.
These days, I intend to be a kind, genuine, passionate person who cares for friends unconditionally. And I only seek to be friends with anyone who can accept me for who I am. The yamas, as I understand them, have shown me why some of my friendships are still strong.
2. Meeting a potential lover.
Approach a potential lover with want. Want is how a person can attain genuine connection and feelings of closeness that come with no strings attached. You should want to make love and make that person feel beautiful and alive. You should want nothing more than to make that person feel secure and safe in your presence. Seek to enrich his or her life and aim to make that person happy to be with you. Be happy when he or she succeeds, and allow that person to cry if they have to. Find a partner with whom you can give everything to without fear or reservation.
Needing someone means that there are hidden agendas, that there is more gain and not enough giving. You may lose your ability to spot the red flags if you are too focused on the superficial agenda you may have. Having a relationship based on need can ultimately lead to getting hurt.
3. Applying for a job.
Aim to be needless. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, or mislead. When you interview with a potential boss, speak to them in truth. Have confidence, not arrogance, about discussing what you know and what you can produce. Be genuine and unafraid to show your potential boss that you have ideas. Be open to adapting, but don’t exchange your integrity for a paycheck.
Approaching a job with need means that you will make compromises that can ultimately lead to physical, emotional, and psychological harm to you. Plus, it can affect the lives of people around you.
I can operate and believe in the vision any boss wants me to have, as long as I am encouraged with kindness and non-violence. I don’t need to sell my soul in the name of a job.
I still remember how the jobs my husband and I had brought toxicity to our relationship. Our careers affected how we parented our son, and he didn’t deserve that at all.
When you get that job, analyze it for all of the things it gives you and doesn’t give you. How does it influence your motivation? Are you there because it pays for your life, or are you there because you like being there? Does your boss value you as an employee? Are the tasks you are performing meeting your expectations and theirs? Are you and your skills valued, or are you taken for granted? Does it make you feel terrible and want to quit? Is it a toxic environment? Do you look forward to finishing work and loving your life more than you enjoy working there? Why? In the end, what does the following phrase mean to you:
“Do you work to live or do you live to work?”
My overall message here is that the difference between want and need drives motivation.
It influences the decisions we make and impacts how we react to any issue. How does an issue affect your basic needs for survival, shelter, food, and water? Remember ahimsa, for you do not want to cause self-harm. Do not forget satya, for you should always stay true to yourself. You can always find a way to remove yourself from anything that can cause harm to you.
When does want turn into a need?
Any relationship acquired from want can calm the soul. The best and most long-lasting relationships occur when we give our feelings freely. A person can hold you and allow you to melt into him or her fully. When a person speaks, you listen without judgment and reservation and vice versa. When you spend time with that person, you do your best to make the experience positive. You care more about the other person than yourself. And this person reciprocates the same things, because of their love for you.
These are the kinds of people we should keep in our lives because they don’t need to mislead us, steal from us, lie to us, or cheat on us. They love us for who we are.
I loved my husband for everything he was. I know he felt the same for me…but over time, we felt the need to keep up with the Joneses. It consumed us. Need compromised who we used to be and turned us both into stressed out, cynical people who argued constantly.
My husband’s death taught me never to waste time compromising myself because of need. All of the things attained with need will mean nothing when you have to survive the loss of a loved one. I should not have become a widow to learn how to want.
Whether it is a job, a relationship, friendship, or a task, approach it with want—this is how we become authentic and genuine. You will be surprised how positivity will gravitate to you. People will want to be in your company. And want will eventually lead to an abundant life.
Author: Diana Kjellgren
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina