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, yet they just don’t interest us.
Why can’t we simply 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 determine our natural interests. As those interests arise from factors beyond our control in this life, it’s almost as if we don’t choose our interests; they choose us.
Then, can we change our interests? No and yes.
No; some things may never interest us naturally. What if we have to work with some such things? We can strive to increase our interest by doing those things repeatedly and by associating with people who are deeply interested in those things. Simultaneously, we needn’t feel guilty or frustrated if that interest never becomes natural or deep. And whenever possible, we can strive to choose a life-vocation that is in harmony with our natural interests.
Yes; we can choose among our interests. Some of our interests may drag us down — for example, interest in mindless acquisition and consumption driven by excessive greed. In contrast, some of our interests may draw us up — for example, interest in constructive activities such as educating others, organizing events or making things. These interests enable us to grow and contribute, both materially and spiritually.
By careful self-observation, we can understand how our various interests affect us. Then we can nourish our healthy interests by conscientiously attending to them and starve our unhealthy interests by conscientiously neglecting them. And while harmonizing with our natural interests (Bhagavad-gita 18.60), if we also connect with our indwelling Lord (18.61-62), we will grow 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.
- Which of those things draw you up and which drag you down?
- 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.