All Want

vintage lady eyeballs

Still feeling a bit discouraged about the Spending Diet I decided to look into a quote I’ve heard about regarding “wanting”.

The quote is: “All Suffering Is Want”.

I feel like I’ve been in a big place of WANT lately and I’m not happy about it. While I’ve come millions of miles from where I was a little over a year ago I hoped I would have completely wiped out this transition-y period where I still want. I don’t know, I probably AM being too hard on myself like one super nice commenter pointed out. (I have to say being called “Buttercup” was nice and sweet and unexpected and appreciated. Thank You for the nice words since I’ve mentioned I’ve been down on myself about the Spending Diet.)

It’s been kind of shocking to realize that it was actually easier to be on the Spending Fast. It was a RELIEF to say “NO” to all wants. Now I’m finding that with discretion comes uneasiness. I’m walking through the uneasiness and experiencing it and trying to get a hang of this whole “moderation” thing. I’ve never been good at that whole thing.

Yesterday was better at least. I didn’t spend any money on anything like I have planned. Feels good. Real good.

So, about that quote… Turns out its a Buddhist saying. I’m not Buddhist but reading about “Want” from this perspective was quite insightful.

(Info from Zen Habits.)


The Buddha’s had observed that life is suffering. Before He could find a solution to the problem of suffering in life, He had first to look for the cause of suffering. The Buddha was just like a good doctor who first observes a patient’s symptoms and identifies the cause of illness before prescribing a cure. The Buddha discovered that the direct causes of suffering are desire or craving, and ignorance. This is the truth of the cause of suffering, which is the Second Noble Truth.

CRAVING is the deep-seated desire that all living beings have for the pleasures of the senses, and for life itself. For instance, people always seek to enjoy good food, entertainment and pleasant company. Yet none of these can give them complete and lasting satisfaction. After the fine meal has been eaten, the beautiful music heard and the pleasant company shared, one is still not content. One would like to enjoy these pleasures again and again, and for as long as possible.

People who desire to own many things also can never be fully satisfied too. Like children in a toyshop, they crave all the attractive things they see around them. But like children, they soon become dissatisfied with what they already have and desire more. Sometimes, they can hardly eat or sleep until they get what they want. Yet when they succeed in getting what they want, they may still find their happiness short-lived. Many will be too worried for the safety and condition of their new possessions to enjoy it. Then when the object they possess eventually breaks into pieces and has to be thrown away, they will suffer its loss even more.

When we have obtained something we desire, we may want more and more of it, and so greed arises. Because of desire and greed, people will lie, cheat and steal to get what they want. Uncontrolled desires can also lead to addiction, for example, to smoking, drinking and overeating, all of which lead to suffering and cause mental and physical harm.

If another person prevents one from getting what is desired, one may feel anger towards that person. Desire, when obstructed, can lead to ill will and anger. This in turn can lead to harsh words, violent quarrels and even fights or killings. All this is suffering.

Since that was super deep we need some non-deep-ness.

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!


6 thoughts on “All Want

  1. Ryan Brown

    Keep your head up. I think you may be focusing on the short term want instead of the long term goal of financial freedom. Don't worry it is easy to do. It happens to me all of the time. Get yourself back on track by remembering what it is you're trying to accomplish. Focus on the goal and don't let distractions derail you!!!

  2. Elizabeth

    I definitely agree that a 'one size fits all answer' (in your case..'NO!') was so much easier to follow! Now you have to think of a variety of answers like, well this latte is okay because I haven't had one in a year, but these earrings aren't a good value. Way more complicated than 'no.' The truth is, you did so much more than just save money and say 'no' during the spending fast. You had to appreciate what it means to actually afford and pay for nicer wants. You used old, hidden away makeup for a year for goodness sake! Going from 'starving' yourself to lifting the restrictions comes with a little adjustment of course. You have to fight the urge to gorge yourself on all the pretty things you saw during the last year and the cups of good coffee you missed. It's like you said originally: you just have to keep your priorities straight. The whole purpose of this experiment/lifestyle is to keep your priorities straight, not give yourself a bad case of Catholic guilt. It seems that in your first weekend, you made purchases that were staples of a wardrobe as well as a cool pair of boots that you had researched for weeks! Didn't seem like too much impulse spending.

    One of the tricks I have is setting aside money in different savings funds in my ING account. They have a really nice system where you can set up as many mini-savings funds as you want (labeling them, too.. just like the old envelope fund!). I have one fund that I throw a few bucks in here and there called my "beauty" fund. I use that to pay for my haircuts, waxing, replacing makeup etc. If I don't have the money in the account, I don't schedule a hair appointment. Maybe you find a coupon at the grocery store and save like $5 off what you budgeted.. put that in the 'beauty' or 'mad money' or whatever you want to call it. I find that when I've saved money to buy something, I end up buying something quality that I really like.. and I don't feel guilty about buying it! I get to enjoy it because I planned for it.

  3. Maryl

    Anna, it's called a recovery process. Yup, PROCESS, which really doesn't have an end, it's part of the fabric of that thing called life. Lots of addicts relapse – alcoholics relapse, spendaholics relapse, drug users relapse, dieters relapse. We're imperfect people and we screw up. What is really important is you CONSCIOUSLY stop, you FORGIVE yourself and you get back to where you know you need to be. Sit yourself down, take some really deep breaths, tell those mean little self-castigating thoughts to go jump off whatever borough bridge is closest.
    Some people use envelopes, some people use jars, but develop a thoughtful SPENDING PLAN and stick to it. Make sure there's some fun money in there. A girl's gotta have a little jingle money to keep a skip in her step.
    Don't know who you are reading, but two women who have really helped me are Jane Bryant Quinn's tome Making the Most of Your Money and her website, and Gail Vaz-Oxlade, a Canadian who has a show on CNBC and a daily blog. I discovered Jane at 27 when I was married and finding out my then-husband and I were on our way to a fricking financial train wreck. He wasn't much help (that's why he's my ex-husband now) but other people have been truly supportive of me and my goals. Make sure you get a handful of them to lean on when things start getting slippery.
    Hang in there, kiddo. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

  4. Maryl

    And by the way, keep savoring the huge, huge accomplishment of 2010 – paying off 18,000 of debt! That is a fabulous achievement! There are very few people who would have the guts to do it. You ought to frame your "start" balance and your "finish" balance and hang it where you can see it every day.

  5. Alice

    I used to go through phases during the year when I wouldn't spend on wants at all, and then I would decide to hit my favorite thrift store and buy a bunch of crap I didn't need but I thought I could use. Then the guilt set in and I would kick myself. Then the crap would sit around unused for a looooooong time. I stopped doing that when I started watching "Hoarders" on A&E. Watch it! I promise you will find it much easier to shop during your spending diet. I find myself picturing some of those people's homes if I want to buy stuff I really don't need, and then put it right back! It works! You can catch episodes online. Tell you what- I always feel tons better about my little debts after watching that show, and I'm usually filling a box or bag of stuff I don't need to haul to the Goodwill after watching, too.

    By the way, boots are always a necessity! I LOVE BOOTS!

  6. Rachel

    I too struggle not to buy things I don't need. I agree with others that having a little money set aside for yourself is a good thing. I budget, and it's actually not too bad once you get used to it. I take out my weekly cash on Friday, and when it's gone, it's gone. You can budget for fun stuff and not feel guilty.
    If you ever needed an extra reason not to buy things (well, new things at least), you should check out this video: (The Story of Stuff is interesting, and I just saw their cosmetics video which was interesting, too).

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