Do we choose our interests or do our interests choose us?
We all can think of several things in our life that are important for us, but just don’t interest us. Yes, we can increase our interest in them by repeatedly doing those things and by associating with individuals who are deeply interested in those things. Still, such conscientiously cultivated interests may never become as strong as our natural interests.
Why can’t we just choose our interests? Because we can only direct our body-mind machine, not define or redefine it. At birth, this machine comes with some innate psychophysical inclinations, which undergird our natural interests. As those interests come to us based on factors beyond our control in this life, it may be said that our interests choose us.
Then, can we do anything about our interests? No and yes.
No, in the sense that we may need to acknowledge that some things may never interest us naturally. It might be best if we choose a life-vocation that is in harmony with our natural interests.
Yes, in the sense that we can choose among our interests. Some of our interests may drag us back or down — for example, interests in mindless acquisition and consumption driven by excessive greed. In contrast, some other interests may draw us ahead and up — for example, interests in singing, teaching, managing that enable us to grow and contribute, both materially and spiritually. By careful self-observation, we can understand how our various interests are affecting. Then we can nourish our healthy interests by conscientiously attending to them and starve our unhealthy interests by conscientiously neglecting them.
Thus we can go along with our natural interests that are in harmony with life’s ultimate spiritual purpose (Bhagavad-gita 18.60), thereby growing toward our full potential.
We can’t always choose our interests, but we can always choose among our interests
Think it over:
- List ten things that naturally interest you.
- Analyze which of those things draw you ahead and which drag you behind.
- How can you nourish your healthy interests?
18.60: Under illusion you are now declining to act according to My direction. But, compelled by the work born of your own nature, you will act all the same, O son of Kunti.