Two big questions often arise on the path to flourishing, and if you haven’t asked yourself these questions, well, this article wants to give you the opportunity.
Start a document or write in your journal along with this article in order to engage more fully if you’d like to.
What do you want?
Look into your heart and really try to understand, within a particular timeframe, what wish you hold that is most dear to you. It could be for the next day, or month, or year, or lifetime. In fact, it’s useful to think about your desires for all of them whenever possible. Figuring out what it is you want can tell you a lot of information about yourself – our cravings are clues about how we construct reality around us, about what we consider to be important. But before you begin to try and achieve what you want, there’s a second question to ask.
Why do I want that?
What is it in you, or in your past, that is forming your wants? How do the things you want construct your identity? If you ask yourselves these questions and dig as deeply as possible you’ll find some surprising answers. Digging deeply is as simple as having the curiosity of a child. Just keep asking why, keep trying to answer it in multiple ways, and answer it as honestly as possible.
Let’s look at an example of a dialogue that might help you on the path.
“What do you want?”
“I want to be able to run 10 kilometres in one month”
“Well, health is very important to me, and if I can run further it means I’m healthier.”
“It will help me to lose weight.”
“Why do you want to lose weight?”
“Because generally healthy people can be recognised by their low fat levels.”
“Why do you want to lose weight?”
“Because I think I’m overweight”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because when I look in the mirror I don’t have my ideal body”
“What is your ideal body?”
“One without fat on it.”
“Because people who have less fat are more attractive.”
“That’s what our society dictates to be attractive based on our history and culture”
“Why do you want to be attractive?”
“So that I can go on dates with the people I want to”
“Because I want a girl/boyfriend”
“Because I want to get married”
“Because I don’t want to be alone”
“Because then I’d be alone, and sad, and lonely”
“Because nobody would want to be with me”
Okay. This could theoretically continue, but we have more than enough information to read between the lines and see the following:
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of acceptance
- Body insecurity
- Fear of loneliness
- Self worth issues
Ultimately, much of what we want can be summed up with one word: Love. We fear lack of love, we want to experience love. We are afraid that we won’t get love because we aren’t good enough. You can do this exercise with any desire and it will open a big ol’ can of issues, many of which will lead back to love. I’m not saying all our issues should be reduced and simplified in this way, but it’s important to realise that what you’re searching for isn’t actually necessarily the final goal for you. It helps you to question the usefulness of whatever it is that you want. And all that just from wanting to run 10k.
If you have that kind of conversation with yourself you might begin to question some of your goals and reevaluate your fixation on them. You might realise that, hey, this goal is actually intrinsically worthwhile, I don’t need to do it so I feel better about myself, I want to run 10k just for the sake of running 10k! Any other benefits I get from it are just a bonus!
Congrats. That’s a good place to be in. Get your love from love, and your running from running. Everything is worth it for it’s own sake. Everything is intrinsically valuable for it’s own sake.
That’s one model, at least. And it can be useful at times. When you want to get something done, though. When you want to achieve. Try this out:
WOOP was invented by psychologists as a tool for mental contrasting. This is basically something that compares ideas in your mind so you have a methodology to achieve your goals in a realistic way. Once you know what you want and why, this is one way to get it
Check it out and write it down:
- Choose a timeframe
- Wish – choose a wish that is close to your heart, a desire you want fulfilled
- Outcome – imagine what it would be like if the wish were to be achieved – create a positive fantasy of the outcome
- Obstacles within myself. What are the things in you stopping the wish from occurring? Looking at the internal obstacles rather than the external ones helps prevent excuses.
- Plan – decide how you can overcome the obstacles, plan it out, and then put it into action