I had a post queued up for Monday but it was about trust law and a bit dry!
I’ll re-work it and release it at the end of the year. A low traffic period of time.
Last week, I finished a book called Wanting. An easy read, filled with short anecdotes, about desire.
Having spent my life in the business of money, I know about conventional desire. My time in athletics exposed me to another aspect, Victory & Vanity.
Greed comes in many shapes and forms. As I age, one form I contend with is wanting to get back to the past – a past remembered as better, stronger, more vigorous… this longing doesn’t serve me well.
For example, a longing for vigor can cause me to do too much exercise, thereby assuring exhaustion (ie a lack of vigor)!
The Wanting book was a guided personal review => considering the source of, and the likely results of, my desires.
A Simple Case Study – the source of desires
A decade ago, shortly after visiting Aspen, I found myself wanting to buy a Range Rover. This desire appeared to “come out of nowhere”, but it didn’t really.
I’d been in Aspen for a training camp with three guys in my age group. Let’s call them the Three Amigos. I had visited their houses, been driven around in their cars (Range Rovers) and elevated my heart rate with some very competitive swim/bike/run.
The Three Amigos were people in whom I was able to see different aspects of myself. In many dimensions they were more than myself. With my heart rate up, this is a very powerful modeling situation – both consciously and unconsciously.
The Range Rover desire was the first thing I noticed. There was more.
Here’s the tip: I tend to notice my material desires before the deeper stuff.
When I notice that I’m wanting to buy the same socks as a buddy (Doc J you have a pair of very nice purple socks BTW)… pause and consider.
When I notice the mimetic transfer of a material desire (socks, car) then I pause and consider what else I might be sucking up from this person. Because I know it’s happening strongly in my unconscious.
Thinking about an earlier draft of this post. I realized that the influence of my friends runs far deeper… watch, skis, bike, entree selection, career nudging for my children… my desires are influenced, to a point of external unconscious control, by my mentors (nears and peers).
Choose (very) wisely!
Risk of Ruin in Close Peers
Here’s a tip about ruin => in a group of peers, the group will tend towards the risk-seeking level of its most risk-seeking member.
We drift upwards, until something goes wrong, then we blame the situation.
Smart systems avoid catastrophe – here’s a simple one, teams of three, most conservative opinion binds the group. I use this in the mountains, and on my investment committee.
Life is a game over time.
The power of desire works in reverse => consider people (and their specific choices) who repulse you.
The book asks the reader to consider, “Who are you not rooting for?”
It helps to be brutally honest. Owning my greed is easier than acknowledging secret envy!
It took a couple weeks (and 48 hours off my screens in Utah) to dig into my hidden desires. Part of the Wanting discussion centers around “thick” and “thin” desires.
Let’s start with a “thick” desire => do right by my kids. Where’s that going to lead us? A series of strong downstream families that endure beyond my life.
When I see someone crushing the family-side of their life, I’m happy for them => alignment with my thick values.
Compare to “thin” desires => the Range Rover, a fancy ski jacket, etc… Thin, material desires are relatively easy to spot.
Envy is less easy to spot. Disgust, however, is easy to feel => there’s the feeling again… let me consider it.
My kids are doing great in all domains – school, sport and social. Notwithstanding this reality, I often hear a voice in my head saying…
You could be so much more…
Funny though, the voice predates my child! It’s a voice that’s been following me around for many years.
But what does this voice want?
Fame, likes, the approval of strangers!
If you repulse me then you likely have these things, all of which I secretly want… 😮
Thin, hollow desire that, most importantly, can NEVER be satisfied.
When I started publishing, I had a desire to help 1,000 people. I wrote it down as part of The Artist’s Way, bought in July 2000. Having far exceeded my goal, you’d think the desire would wane.
My desire for recognition, when fed, only grows stronger!
I see hidden desire through my anti-desires, my envy of others. What am I thinking about when I feel disgust? How might I deal with those feelings of envy?
Don’t water the seeds of envy. Simple, not easy.
Let’s get into tactics I’ve been experimenting with…
#1 – get myself to play a different game by competing in a different environment. This started in 2000. To get myself to step outside my innate monetary greed, I had to leave my daily exposure to high finance. To think clearly, I need to power down my phone and lock it in my car for a couple days.
Reduce my drive for material consumption and constant external approval… Axing Facebook/Instagram was a huge win for me. Not easy. Like stopping drinking, what am I supposed to do with all this extra time?
Not racing => the removal of a constant incentive for “more” in my physical life. Signing up for a race is a step towards fatigue. Fatigue that works against my thick desires.
On the screen you are reading this post on… who is on my screen most often? who’s like me, but more? who’s triggering my disgust?
Write it down
Several times in my life, I’ve had a moment of clarity. A moment where I realized my thin desires were carrying me towards an outcome I didn’t want.
The moments are fleeting, so I write them down: the change and why I need to make it. Often, I try the change for 30-days and pay attention to how I feel.
The path forward is not always clear. I know people, who have a deep feeling “this isn’t it” and want to make a change. Other internal voices might be, “you gotta get out of here” or “this isn’t me.”
Write down what your hear.
Or maybe you wake up and realize your choices are destroying your health. In the early 1990s, I got kind of fat and didn’t like it. When I’m tempted to deviate from my system of healthy eating/exercise, I remind myself just how much I didn’t enjoy being chubby!
If you’re anything like me then your thin desires will persist and keep trying to lead you astray. The stronger they get, the more I need to slow down, reduce stress and consider where I want my choices to take me.
Strong downstream families enduring beyond my lifetime.