Are Your Desires Holding You Back or Pulling You Forward?
“Desire is to the soul what gravitation is to matter.” -Fulton Sheen
Humans are capable of amazing things. Art, love, and forgiveness to name a few.
But let’s face it, we are also selfish b@stards most of the time (and most of that time we don’t even realize it).
Our desires are the raw materials of which we build our path in life. Although our path may bend and take shape from outside factors — the economy, people’s expectations, dumb luck, etc. — our desires are the stepping stones.
So knowing this, when was the last time you took a hard look at your desires? Are they holding you back or pulling you forward?
A Street Car Named…
Besides the basic survival desires of food, water, shelter, and reproduction, humans experience more complex desires nowadays than our ancient ancestors.
There are the more “modern” desires brought about in the past few centuries: education, freedom, fair taxation. And then there are the desires we can’t quite put a finger on: finding a purpose for our life, creating our path in life, realizing our potential.
If we take a look at our desires, the ones that get us out of bed in the morning or the ones that excite and motivate us, we can roughly gauge our life’s trajectory.
- If you are an entrepreneur, is your desire to provide a service or product or is it to make money?
- If you are a writer, is your desire to share thoughts and insights to help others or is it to be heard and acknowledged?
- If you are a manager, is your to desire to motivate your team or climb the corporate ladder?
As you can see, two people may be on the same path, but each heading in opposite directions. The one who possesses selfish desires is held back, whereas the other who desires to serve others moves forward.
For the longest time, I was the blogger obsessed with the “numbers.” I checked daily the number of views my blog had. I refreshed my Twitter page to see if more followers showed up.
I even subscribed to my own blog to increase the count (feel free to throw virtual tomatoes at me, I deserve it).
I operated under this false sense of progress for years. But then one day I stopped. I cared less about the numbers. I focused only on producing valuable content for my readers. And you know what happened?
I moved forward.
Finding the Right Balance
Life is not black and white. There are times when your “selfish” desires will take priority over your “selfless” desires (e.g. pulling on your oxygen mask first during plane turbulence), and there are times when “selfless” desires come first (e.g. sharing your Netflix password).
Every desire falls into two groups:
- Serving others
- Serving yourself
Neither one is more important than the other, but finding the right balance for your unique journey is key.
So how does one find the right balance?
Two steps forward, one step back.
- Two steps of creativity minus one step of perfection equals art
- Two steps of providing value minus one step of asking for money equals business
- Two steps of teaching minus one step of learning equals a better education system
The balance is fluid. Find what works best for you.
One final thought: Do without expecting
Our desires are nothing more than wanting a thing. We want this thing so bad we take action to acquire said thing.
But what would happen if we went about performing these actions without the expectation of acquiring the thing?
Doing a good action without expecting a good in return will lead to a more fulfilling journey. I don’t know why this works, but in my life doing without expecting surprisingly yields positive results.
You might not reap the rewards now, but they will come. Life is funny like that.