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Observations placeholder

Haig, Matt - Reasons to stay alive - 07 Reducing desires



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Matt Haig - Reasons to stay alive  

….how much of our lives are we actually living in the present? How much instead are we either excited or worrying about the future, or regretting or mourning the past? Our response to all this worry about time is to try and achieve things before it is too late. Gain money, improve our status, marry, have children, get a promotion, gain more money, on and on for ever. Or rather, not for ever. If it were for ever, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

But we kind of know that turning life 'into a desperate race for more stuff is only going to shorten it. Not in years, not in terms of actual time, but in terms of how time feels. Imagine all the time we had was bottled up, like wine, and handed over to us. How would we make that bottle last? By sipping slowly, appreciating the taste, or by gulping?


For me personally, happiness isn't about abandoning the world of stuff, but in appreciating it for what it is. We cannot save ourselves from suffering by buying an iPhone.   That doesn't mean we shouldn't buy one, it just means we should know such things are not ends in themselves.


If you feel the same amount of depression as someone would naturally feel in a prisoner of war camp, but you are not in a prisoner of war camp and are instead in a nice semi-detached house in the free world, then you think 'Crap, this is everything I ever wanted, why aren't I happy !'

You may find yourself, as in the Talking Heads song, in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, wondering how you got there. Watching the days. Wondering how things get on top. Wondering what is missing. Wondering if every thing we have wanted in our lives has been the wrong thing. Wondering if the smartphones and nice bathrooms and state-of-the-art TVs we thought were part of the solution are part of the problem. Wondering if, in the board game of life, everything we thought was a ladder was in fact a snake, sliding us right down to the bottom.

As any Buddhist would tell you, an over-attachment to material things will lead only to more suffering.

It is said that insanity is a logical response to an insane world.

The source of the experience

Haig, Matt

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Reducing desires