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You can have anything you want, but not everything!

A favourite saying for me at the moment is 'You can have anything you want,
but not everything.' I think that some hyper-self help books may say things
such as 'if you follow the techniques, etc, here you can have everything you
want - love wealth and happiness, etc'.

It is quite true that you can have anything you want. But it is false that
you can have everything. Suppose you decided that you wanted to be ever-so
rich. (Sorry for most readers, who are ever-so rich, you can substitute
something else. I avoided saying 'millionaire' because that isn't supposed
to be that special these days!!!) So, suppose you want to be ever-so rich or
something. This entails other things. Because it creates some change. There
are some people who take a lot of interest in people who suddenly gain
wealth. I think one of the things is the 'begging letter'. Such recently
wealthy people might suddenly receive sacks of mail containing sob-stories
from people asking for money. Apparently, many of these stories can be heart
breaking. (Definitely stuff not to read!) One reporter asked a newly rich
who thought their life wouldn't change, 'What about the begging letters?'

This newly rich answered, 'Well, I'll still keep writing them!'

Joking apart, when we make a change in one way in our lives, it affects
other parts too. Becoming newly ever-so rich might mean that one's current
friends and family might not seem adequate. One's lifestyle would change.

One of the things I like doing is to browse in bookshops. Part of the
pleasure is the long process of deciding which book or books I will buy so I
can take them home and put them somewhere to read later(!!!) The best
browsing days were those when I saw several books I wanted, but couldn't
afford to buy them all. So there was the agonising decision which I would
buy. This was made more fun if I was on a trip to town and I wouldn't be
visiting this town again for some time.

As I had more disposable income, and I could buy whatever ones I wanted, I
found browsing much less fun.

You can think of your own examples, but it seems that we can attain what we
want to attain but not everything. When we attain one thing, other parts of
our lives necessarily change so we have additional problems - new interests
and activities to develop, new people to meet or new friends. Perhaps a
change in family. The new situation can be worse than the previous one,
unless we are very careful to balance our lives.

I think this principle is a principle of life or the universe. A few hundred
years ago it was popular to debate the issue that if God was good and all
powerful, how come God made this imperfect world of sickly children,
earthquakes, disease and old age?

The sort-of conclusion they developed was that this is the best of all
possible worlds. It isn't a perfect world in one sense, but it is the best
one that could have been made. For example, if we could have anything and
everything we wanted just by desiring it, we would experience less learning
and development, in such a world. Probably we wouldn't experience any
learning at all!

In our daily lives we experience the principle, 'You can have everything you
want, but not everything'. If we want to go to town, but it is cold and wet
outside and we don't want to go out in such weather, then we can go to town
or stay in the warm, but we can't do both. (Sometimes creative solutions are

Where we sometimes go wrong in our thinking is believing we can or ought-to
be able to have everything we want and get upset because of the effects of
our attaining what we want. We can attain what we want, and we can attain
optimum solutions, but we cannot attain everything we want. There is no such
thing as perfection.

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Most Recent Revision: 9-11-99.
Copyright 1998, 1999 Ken Ward,
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