Alan Watts – What if money was no object?

What do you desire? What makes you itch? What sort of a situation would you like?

Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, “we’re getting out of college and we haven’t the faintest idea what we want to do”. So I always ask the question, “what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?”

Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do?

When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much.

That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.

See what we are doing, is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lifes we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch, and no vomit it never gets there.

And so, therefore, it’s so important
to consider this question: What do I desire?

“At least something good came out of this”

How to encourage positive thoughts:

The other day my boyfriend and I drove two hours to Los Angeles to apply for a student visa at the Spanish Consulate so that I could participate in a year long study abroad program in Spain. I spent my last few dollars on the gas to get there and I only had enough for the fees I needed to pay that day in LA. We jumped through hoops to get try to get everything done and arrive at this certain location before my appointment time– we were tired and hungry.

We got to the door, jumped in the elevator where thousands of thoughts ran through my head and my stress accelerated. Walked up to the door and the building was already closed for service that day. We had missed it by an hour and I felt like all my efforts for this were in vain.

I was upset for just a minute until I said to myself, “Well I tried my best, and at least we ate good food on this trip”.

Besides all the businessy part of the trip, we ate at the original Tommy’s Burgers spot, we explored other ethic communities and later that day we ate some dee-licious Peruvian food. A spot my boyfriend said he grew up eating with his parents and swore it was the best Peruvian food in town. I ate Lomo Saltado de Carne and as I took my first bites of this perfectly seasoned piece of carne asada I experienced heaven in my mouth. I could not help but blurt out a moan-like groan at my obvious satisfaction with this Peruvian spot he brought me to.

At the moment I realized I wasn’t sad about not being able to get my student travel visa and therefore no longer able to participate in the program, I wasn’t sad that I now had to figure out what I was gonna do with my life, no; I was happy to have eaten good food, with good company, in the highest of moods.

In the end, I looked back on the day that seemed like another failed attempt, I thought of the “at least” part of the day. No I didn’t get my student visa but at least I ate some bomb food and made memories that might be worth the drastic change of my future plans.

Moral of the story: Whenever you find yourself in a sucky situation. stop and try and think to yourself what good came out of all this. By thinking, “at least..” you realize it wasn’t all that bad.

Live in the moment, worry later. 

*This post was republished from a previous blog from Fall 2013