Substitute Desires

Sometimes, to get something you want, it’s helpful to want something else. For example:

  • If you want to be fit, it’s better to find a kind of exercise you enjoy (e.g. swimming, aerial acrobatics, ultimate frisbee—it’s up to you!) than to fight yourself over doing something you hate every time. In other words, find a way to want to exercise.
  • If you want to make friends, focus instead on the things you can enjoy doing on your own. Not only does this give you more interesting things to talk about when you meet people, but you are also more likely to meet people you have something in common with.
  • If you value your own prosperity, try to value everyone else’s too. Otherwise you’ll be subject to instances where everyone acting in their own interest ends up worse off.
  • Last year, one of my core values was competence—i.e. I wanted to be good at what I did. Now I am thinking that if I do value competence, it might be better to focus on growth. That way, failure becomes an opportunity to live out my values instead of a sign that I don’t live up to them.

What are some times that you’ve wanted something, and had to pursue something else to get it?


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