Do You Want What You Want?

veruca saltIn my copious amounts of free time, one of the things I love to do is to solve the mysteries of the universe and then promptly forget what I came up with. Fortunately, good timing was on my side tonight and I got to jot down my thoughts before my brain cells swapped out this precious memory space for another television jingle.

Among such mind-bending topics as, “How do speedometers actually work?” and “Why does peanut butter work so well with bananas?” comes my latest poser: “What do you want?” I can’t think of another question that sounds so simple on the surface and yet holds infinite complexities underneath. (Except, of course, for “How are you?”)

Before we start digging, though, I would like to throw out my hypothesis. It is my belief that human beings, at any given time, at any given place, and in any given situation always do whatever they want. This is never not true. Plain and simple, we’re machines that do one thing: whatever we want whenever we want.

“Foul!” I hear you cry. “Impossible!” the crowd roars. “Really?” the author retorts. “Then please tell me one time you did something you didn’t want to do.”

“Psssh! Where do I start?! Like, how about every single minute of my life? I don’t want to wake up when my alarm goes off. I don’t want to sit in bumper to bumper traffic. I don’t want to read this blog post anymore. And yet I do all of these things! How can you tell me I always do what I want?”

As you may have guessed, things aren’t always as simple as they seem. As an exercise, try to make a list of five things you want. If you can’t think of anything—or don’t want to—here’s a quick list.

  • I want to finish writing at least one book.
  • I want to take a nap.
  • I want to fix something different for dinner tonight.
  • I want to relax this weekend.
  • I want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

It took five seconds to come up with five things. If I really took the time to think about it (and did some serious introspection) I could come up with at least another couple thousand. “I want my family to be safe and happy. I want my friends to like me. I want my heart to keep beating.”

Now it gets complicated. We always do what we want, but unfortunately, we want about thirty-seven thousand different things at any given time. I didn’t get up when my alarm went off just because I wanted to get up. I did it because I want to keep my house. The brain is in a constant state of motion, comparing and weighing an unthinkably long and ever-changing list of “wants” in order to send neurological signals to our feet, legs, arms, hands, jaws, and eyelids to move together in a certain way. (And this doesn’t even begin to take into account all the things your body wants that it never asks you about.)

Do you want to lose weight? I’m sure for most of you the answer is yes. So why don’t you lose weight? For the same reason human beings NEVER do what they “want”: because, ironically, their brains are too busy doing making them do what they want.

You might want to write that novel, but not until after you finish this television show. You might want to relax this weekend, but not until after you finish mowing the lawn. Wait! Why would I want to mow the lawn? Well, probably because you want your house to look nice, or you want your neighbors to respect you, or you want to keep money in your pocket instead of paying a stupid HOA fine for insufficient curb appeal.

Do you want to lose weight? Then all you have to do is want it. Period. The only trick is, you have to want it more than the donut someone just waved under your nose.

Accomplishing anything in life is easy. The only hard part is figuring out the answer to this simple question: do you want what you want?

16 Responses to “Do You Want What You Want?”

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said
August 1, 2011 at 4:35 am

The heart is treacherous. Your heart is your biggest enemy. There is a constant battle between your heart and your brain. We know what the right way is, yet our own desires betray us.

Helen said
August 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Of course, the other great question is, do you REALLY want it?

Or even, how badly do you want it?

Because we all have things we want, but you can always tell for sure what people REALLY want badly by where they put their energies.

I’m talking to myself here too.

Biz said
August 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Loved this post Charlie! And FYI, Debbi of Debbi Does Dinner Healthy hasn’t been able to leave comments on either of our blogs – I thought she hated me because she hadn’t left a comment for a couple months – just wanted to let you know she’s still reading if she can comment!

    Charlie said
    August 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Spam filter caught it, but I just released it (as you can now see). That was the only one I saw in there.

      Biz said
      August 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      Cool! Thanks Charlie!

I Got This! (for a day) « My Bizzy Kitchen said
August 2, 2011 at 5:45 am

[…] out my brother’s most recent post – I am always jealous of his writing skillz. Do you want to lose weight? Then all you have to do […]

Stop running . . .fatty! « My Bizzy Kitchen said
August 4, 2011 at 6:10 am

[…] didn’t let that remark stop me from finishing what I started.  And Charlie, I still have to thank you for your post this week – its really helped me stay on […]

Back to the Fridge » Attempt 106, Week 4 said
August 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

[…] Do You Want What You Want? […]

Karen said
September 15, 2011 at 7:08 am

I absolutely love this post!

    Charlie said
    September 15, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I absolutely love your gravatar.

Marissa said
September 15, 2011 at 8:44 am

I lost 60 pounds 4 yrs ago and it took me a year and a half to do it. I’d spent most of my life wishing and NOT really wanting to do what needed to be done to make it happen. Once I finally hit my goal I began to want different things. (I wanted a baby;-) Now that I have my little girl I find myself struggling with my weight all over again.
I really loved this post. I followed over from Roni’s Weigh. We do what we want and my decisions have not been reflecting what I say I want…
Just one simple sentence has given me a lot to think about. Thank you again for your post!

Marissa’s Musings said
September 15, 2011 at 9:39 am

[…] another really interesting blog in her comments from Tuesday’s post.  The post was titled Do You Want What You Want?  It made me really question all my whining.  I lost 60 pounds because I wanted it. I finally […]

Back to the Fridge » The Best Laid Plans said
December 2, 2013 at 1:03 am

[…] is what controls it and that The Switch is patently NOT under our control. I also still believe people always do what they want. These things are easy to believe in because there’s overwhelming evidence to support them […]

Back to the Fridge » The Big Secret said
July 7, 2014 at 8:14 am

[…] said this before and I’ll say it again: people always do whatever they want to do at every single moment of […]

Sandbag Jerry said
September 18, 2015 at 5:38 am

Good reading for a lazy Friday morning! Absolutely no one can remove the ills in society without first visiting my Flickr feed. Have a great Monday!

Diet Update – Charlie's Blog said
September 2, 2016 at 4:37 am

[…] really. I have a lot of trouble sticking to the plan. Do I want to lose weight? Sure. Always. But I want a thousand other things too and many of them are mutually […]