Longings have been a constant companion throughout my life, and as a coach, I often find myself helping others grapple with their conflicting desires. 

For me, it’s the yearning to be a devoted father, husband, and man of God conflicting with the desire to become a real estate tycoon conquering the business world. 

Or, it’s the pull between wanting a serene country residence to raise a family and the aspiration to own a downtown home, engaging with people and positively influencing lives. 

What do we do when our deep longings appear to clash? 

The insightful power of self-reflection

The internal conflict raises questions: Why can’t I have both? Is it wrong to desire both?

Must I pick one? 

Many individuals I coach, particularly men, grapple with these questions, attempting to win at both, which often misses the point. 

There are no universal right or wrong answers to these questions. What’s right for me might not be right for you. 

However, I do believe that the essence of finding the right answer lies in self-reflection. 

Firstly, it’s crucial to delve into what you hope to achieve. What do you aim to gain from living in the country? And what do you seek from living in the city?  Understanding the root of these desires is critical in navigating this dilemma.

The freedom-giving power of simplicity

Once these questions find answers, the next step is to consider, “How do I achieve that as simply as possible?” 

Complexity is the adversary of our aspirations. It hinders freedom, love, and connection—fundamental elements of our longings. 

Can you have both? Keeping it simple allows you to experience a lot. When your focus centers on love and connection, simplicity follows naturally. 

The freedom-robbing power of the wrong motives

However, if attention shifts to external appearances, possessions, processes, or building something, simplicity dissipates, and the essence of your original goals fades. 

Many men fall into the trap of building a business for their family, intending to provide a better life. While these words hold truth, the act of business-building often extracts a toll on the family—compromising time, attention, connection, and inducing stress. To align actions with family-centric goals, one must clarify whether the priority is a larger house or enhanced love and connection. 

The meaning of longings

Revisiting conflicting longings prompts us to understand their natural essence. Longings aren’t inherently wrong; they arise from the richness of experiences the world offers. 

Our humanness, however, can lead us to take these experiences for granted, perpetually seeking something new. Acknowledging that many longings are fleeting allows us to focus on simplicity, experiencing various facets more frequently and for shorter durations. 

Understanding ourselves in this context liberates us from self-condemnation. Longings are not mandates to experience something forever but to relish the experience in the moment. Embracing simplicity enables us to enjoy these moments fully and move on to the next, acknowledging that the beauty lies not just in what we long for but in the act of experiencing it.

Steve Cook

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