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Reframe Desire


Techniques Happiness > Reframe Desire

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Notice how you constantly create desires. Do an audit of your current wants and desires, from what you will do this evening to what you want from your job and life. Write these down. Many people can make a very long list.

Now question seriously: Do you really need all of these? What will be the cost to you of achieving them?

Think also of the past. Have you really gained significant pleasure from these sorts of the things before? What has led you to be enduringly happy? Are you desiring such things now? Choose to desire those things which will truly make you happy for long periods.

Also think about the things you have now. Do you desire them? What if you did? If you can want what you already have, then how happy can you be?

Work to appreciate the moment. Notice the amazing things around you. Leverage the good feelings of desire by wanting what you have now.


We cannot help but desire, which acts as the force of motivation. It gets us out of bed in the morning and drives us to all kinds of actions, from making a cup of coffee to pursuing career goals. It is the outcome of needs and the force of motivation.

One problem is that we want too much. We spend so much time wanting that we never get much of what we desire, and so put significant emotion into disappointment and other negative emotions. By removing unnecessary desires we reduce the overload and future negativity.

A part of the problem is that we spend too much time wanting and too little time enjoying. We imagine that we will be satisfied when we achieve our goals, but all we get is fleeting joy as we produce even more goals. It almost seems that we desire desire more than anything else.

Warning: Changing your desires can change your life. When you change what you want you end up doing radically different things. Do think carefully about this -- sometimes by looking too hard at what you do not want you may miss what you really want or whether your decisions will actually get you this.

We cannot stop desiring, but we can do a lot to manage our desires. And in doing so we can create much more present and future happiness.

See also

Needs, Desire, Dopamine


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