Desires and Anxiety

I won't deny that I have desires, but I will deny that I think they're good to have. As Leo Babauta wrote just last week, having outcome-based desires inevitably leads to anxiety. And I'm sick and tired of being anxious.

I used to be okay with being anxious. Other things were more important than peace of mind: getting good grades, being liked by classmates and teachers, pleasing my parents, looking handsome, earning money, outperforming my brother or my best friend. That is, achieving external results was the only way to find peace of mind. Sometimes I succeeded at doing these things, sometimes I didn't. But I lived with the fear of failure most of the time.

Letting Go of Desires


What would happen if I stopped wanting to be liked, successful, great, rich, famous, free, happy, beautiful, brilliant, or anything else I currently desire? I think two things would happen. First of all--and this is likely a deal-breaker for some--I probably would not become those things. That's a hard pill to swallow. If I stop wanting to be rich I probably will not pursue high-paying jobs and thus will not become rich. Sure, I might pull a J.K. Rowling and win the international children's fiction lottery, but the truth is the odds would be against me.

The second thing that would happen, however, is that I wouldn't care that I'm not rich. I don't need to be rich. I'm not even sure I want to be rich. Even rich people don't see themselves as rich and endlessly pursue money. So I say fuggit.

Affirming My Lack of Desires


It's not easy letting go of my petty wants. It will take time, practice, and effort. But it's a belief that needs to change. So starting now, I'm going to repeat to myself:
  1. I don't want to be rich.
  2. I don't want good grades.
  3. I don't want to be admired.
  4. I don't want to look beautiful.
  5. I don't want to be happy.
  6. I don't want to be free.
  7. I don't want to have a girlfriend.
You know what? I feel better already.