Spectrum Of Desire

Over the years I’ve written about the spectrum nature of all things in life and of the importance of desire in determining your level of success, but until I read The School For Good And Evil (opens in a new link), I hadn’t given much thought to the spectrum of desire.

I won’t give away the story line, but two young girls, who are friends, demonstrate that they have two distinctly different wishes for the future. One wishes that things return to the way they were before they were kidnapped by The School For Good And Evil. The other wishes for a future she’d dreamt of prior to their kidnapping.

Desire spectrum

It’s this dichotomy that highlighted the spectral nature of desire for me. The spectrum looks like this:

[Content     Content,Yet Desiring     Obsessed]

One of the friends was content with the way things were prior to their time at the school. She was so content that all she wanted was to return home and enjoy the friendship as it existed before they entered the school for good and evil.

The other girl had grand dreams prior to entering the school. Despite all that she suffered at the school, when presented with a choice of going home or realizing her dreams, she pursued her dreams. One might say that she was so obsessed with her dreams that nothing could dissuade her from their pursuit.

Utilizing the desire spectrum

On the surface, looking at the spectrum, one might conclude that both missed the sweet spot, the point on the spectrum where they were content with what they previously enjoyed, yet desirous of more. But is that true?

If, as I’ve stated in earlier posts, desire determines the level of success one achieves, then is it wrong to be so content with where you are that you don’t strive for more? On the other end of the spectrum, is it wrong to be obsessed with attaining a goal you desire?

The answer is: it depends. It depends on whether these choices, choices you make everyday, make you happy. There are aspects of my life that aren’t of particular interest or importance to me; consequently I invest little time and effort into effecting change. I’m content with the way things are and I have no desire to change them in this one aspect of my life.

There are other areas in which I would like to make improvements in my skills, ability and awareness. I would categorize my feelings as content, yet desiring. I’m content, and happy, with what I’ve achieved, yet I desire to become better, more skilled and happier than I am now.

I can’t recall ever being obsessed with a goal, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with being obsessed unless the joy you once felt is replaced by fear, anxiety and frustration.

For those like Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters and others who have achieved the highest levels of success in their fields, being obsessed with their goal was an essential element of their success. They consistently made choices to put forth time and effort that many of us consider unfathomable. Yet these choices were essential to the attainment of their goal. As long as their achievements along the way afforded them joy, the effort was worthwhile.

What does this mean for you?

For you

If you find that you’re displeased with some aspect of your life, ask yourself “What do I need to do to regain the joy I once experienced?” Once you’ve identified what needs to be done, ask yourself:  “On a scale of one to five, with five being high, how willing am I to perform each of these tasks?”

This simple evaluation will help you understand where you are on the desire spectrum which, in turn, will help you decide whether you’re content, content yet desiring, or obsessed. Awareness of where you are versus where you want to be will make it easier for you to choose wisely.

For our kids

When you see kids expressing, verbally or behaviorally, displeasure with some aspect of their lives, share with them the importance of the balance between desire and joy. Share with them the spectrum of desire. Let them know that any of the three levels of desire can be the right choice as long as that choice brings them happiness. Help them understand that whenever the effort exceeds the joy they experience, it’s time to make another choice.

By helping the kids in your life gain this awareness early, they’ll enjoy a life less plagued by fear, anxiety and frustration. In other words, they’ll enjoy a life that many aspire to, but few attain.

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