What is it about our kids that makes them constantly want the hottest toy, the most fashionable jeans, or the latest gadget? And why does it seem that even if they do get these things, it’s still not enough, and a short time later we hear about a new “must have”? Does it come from being a spoiled generation? Is it the abundance in today’s world? Or is there a spiritual lesson here? And what can I, the parent, do about it?
When our children receive a new toy, they may play with it all the time in the beginning, but after two weeks or so they forget about it. Their constant pursuit of something more and their endless dissatisfaction are not necessarily bad. We want our kids to have a big Desire(with capital D in fact!) so they will experience the great things life has to offer, and achieve what they came to do in this lifetime. However the key is for them to learn about their True Desire — the desire for what we call in SFK “the Light” – the source of all good and an ineffable positive energy that is in all of us.
Confusion occurs when children don’t realize that the reason they want more and more is because of the feeling they get from material objects. Of course we would like to give our kids all that we didn’t have while growing up, but if they rely on material things to feel happy, it becomes a paradox — they will continually wind up unfulfilled and unhappy. The pleasure derived from the material realm is fleeting.What if we could show our children that lasting fulfillment comes from “spiritual things”?
One way to clearly make the distinction between physical things and “spiritual things” is to give them an exercisewe teach in ourSFK Level One, Lesson 2: On a piece of paper, draw a line down the center vertically. In the left column ask them to write down the things they want. In the right column ask them to write how these things make them feel. For example, if your child writes, “skateboard” in the left column, he may write, “cool” or “free” for the feeling it gives him. These feelings cannot be found in the realm of the five senses; I cannot measure Cool, touch Freedom, or weigh Love — these are spiritual. The second point is that physical things are only temporary: If the skateboard becomes outdated or gets scuffed-up, it will no longer make me feel cool.
So the question is: How can I achieve the same sense of fulfillment in a way that’s not through physical objects, so the feeling lasts? This is where our next SFK lessons about sharing, making an effort, and restricting our reactive behavior, come in.
This understanding doesn’t imply that we stop buying gifts for our children, or deny their powerful desire for physical things; it means we need to be aware that we chase the right things that will bring us long-term fulfillment and not spend our time and money on things that by definition give us only temporary fulfillment.
Spring Cleaning is a perfect reminder of this point. We look around at all the things we accumulated over the year and think, “Why do I need so much stuff?” At that moment we realize what we really want is what we call spiritual fulfillment — things like belonging,happiness or love that cannot be bought in a store.
So there’s really no sense in trying to keep up with the Joneses in order to make our kids happy—unless the Joneses understand that long-term fulfillment comes from a deeper connection to our inner LightJ .