This is an explanation of the concepts of desire, attachment, letting go, and manifestation. And how all of those things relate to getting things done.
You may have heard that if you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out how to get it. You might also have heard that desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. That you should set goals and shoot for the stars. But also you should be unattached to outcomes, let go of your desires, and stop chasing material things.
These all sound like smart things to do. But they look contradictory when you put them side by side. It makes it look like half of the philosophy of success is to want stuff. And the other half is to not want stuff. Which would be stupid.
The way to make it look less stupid is to understand that there are different ways to feel the emotion of desire. And that the way you feel it changes how it affects you in your life.
The people who look at desire as a good thing (usually, the motivational people and the manifestation people) see it as a good thing. Because for them, it is. The people who look at desire as a bad thing (usually, the religious people and the mindfulness people) see it as a bad thing. Because for them, it is. Because the people who view it as good are using it as a tool for motivation and inspiration.
And the people who view it as bad are aware of the dangerous attachments, jealousies, and resentments that often come from wanting something you don’t have…
They’re both right. And if you want a good life, you’d better understand both. Or, eventually, you’ll fall into one of two traps.
You’ll either try to fix your problems by letting go of your desires and lose your motivation, drive, inspiration, and ambition.
Or, you’ll try to fix your problems by holding on to your desires, and become resentful of your position in life, jealous of the people around you, and frustrated because you can’t make progress.
The solution is to understand how people feel when they want things in a positive way that helps them. And how they feel when they want stuff in a way that hurts them.
When you want something in a way that harms you, a couple of things happen.
Usually, you want something and:
1. Feel bad because you don’t have it. (Comparison)
Notice how distracting this is. You’re not getting work done. You’re looking at everyone else who is getting work done and feeling bad because your work isn’t finished.
2. Feel like you need to have it. (Attachment)
This often appears as a feeling of stubbornness. And stubbornness makes you blind to creative solutions to get what you want. It makes you unwilling to try new things that could give you better results.
3. Are frustrated that others have it and you don’t. (Jealousy)
This is dangerous because a lot of the best things in life come from interactions with other people, so if you’re jealous of people more successful than you, it’s harder to get the benefits of being around good influences.
4. And you feel like something is wrong because you don’t have it. (Ego)
When you want something and obsessively imagine getting it in your head, then your ego starts to think you already should have it. And the world around you starts to feel wrong and twisted because it doesn’t line up with the person you think you deserve to be.
But when you want something in a positive way that helps you, very different things happen.
1. You feel good because you know what game you’re about to play. The “Chase After The Thing” game.
2. You feel unattached. Because even though you want it, you have an identity separate from reaching your goal. So you feel less stressed, more casual, and easily creative in your approach to solutions.
3. You feel inspired. When you let yourself feel the excitement of desire, it can energize you to chase after what you want. And the people around you who have what you’re looking for lift you up and inspire you to push forward.
4. And you feel abundant, as if you already have what you need. Because you keep your ego in place, the day-to-day work feels natural and reasonable to where you’re at in life.
So how do you feel desire in a positive way?
You use the practice of resonance.
This is the piece that’s usually missing when people talk about concepts like manifestation, and then nothing makes sense, and practical people write it off as nonsense.
But manifestation, motivation, and holding a higher vision within yourself to get better outward results, is very real. You just have to understand resonance.
Resonance is a word used, in physics, to describe the vibration of one object being used to reinforce the vibration of another object.
The simplest example is the vibration of a violin string. If you play a note on another instrument beside the violin, at the same frequency as the violin string, the string will automatically begin to vibrate along with it. This works with any object, whether it’s two of the same sized wine glasses, two bars of metal, or, theoretically, two planets.
It’s an extremely powerful, well-documented fact.
Powerful enough that people have spun off theories that, in ancient times, musical instruments were used to make stones shake so that they could be more easily pushed up gradients to build pyramids. I haven’t the slightest idea if that’s true, but it’s a fun theory.
The true part is that vibration in one thing causes vibration in another thing.
We also know that feeling emotions strongly can often influence other people to feel the same emotions.
When you emotionally “vibrate” at one frequency, others often begin to do the same.
The concept of resonance that’s used inside the idea of manifestation is this:
If you feel something as if it’s already happened, then you can make it come true.
Because you are making reality align with your way of being.
Learn to vibrate in the way that you wish to be, and then you will be that way.
Learn to vibrate as if you’re getting what you want, and then you will get what you want.
Now, before you say that the idea is stupid, I want to be very clear that I’m not sure that I’ve ever manifested an empty parking spot. I usually end up pretty far from where I’m going.
(It’s probably my dad’s fault because he always liked to give himself a little extra walk. Thanks, dad, for keeping me healthy.) But I do know that when I feel like I have friends, more people want to be my friend. When I feel like I make good art, I make better art. And when I feel like I have enough money, people pay me more money.
The idea of manifestation is…
- Have a desire.
- Then take a moment to imagine what it would be like to have your desire fulfilled.
- Imagine how great it would be.
- Sink into the emotion, victory, and satisfaction of it.
- Let yourself be there completely.
- Then come back to reality.
- Try to feel those same sensations in the life you’re living today.
- And then get to work.
This is a positive way to feel desire.
Simply give yourself the experience of reaching your desire, not as a substitute, not so that you feel like you are free to let go, sit there, and do nothing. But so that you have a blueprint you can use as a guide to build the future version of yourself.
When you do this, you can tap into all the positive aspects of desire. This is the strategy.
And when you want stuff like this it isn’t bad. It doesn’t make you jealous or frustrated. It makes you feel good. And it makes you more open to opportunities and creative thought.
An additional question to ask… does the whole manifestation part of this have to work for this to be a reasonable approach?
In fact, the whole concept could be untrue (I, personally, believe more every day that it’s true myself.), and this would still be the right approach. Because it’s zero risk.
At worst, it puts you in a better mood. And at best, it turns you into a magician.
And if you have a chance to take a bet with zero downside and infinite potential upside, you should take that bet as many times as possible.
Resonance is that bet.
And that’s how you can make sense of the weird contradictory messages around desire.
You simply have to learn how to desire in a positive way. Not a negative one.
Sure, maybe desire is the root of all suffering, but it’s an inescapable aspect of human existence, and it can bring you joy if you understand this concept.
Which means it can’t be all evil. Because if you take the logic path of “desire is evil” far enough, and you take into account that it’s a fundamental aspect of the human experience, then pretty soon you’ll have to conclude that humanity is evil.
And that is an absolute no-go. That does not work as a productivity philosophy. People have tried it. It never works. So believe in the utility of desire. Implement positive desire.
Don’t tell yourself not to want stuff.
Don’t shut down your desires.
Learn to have them, and then experience them fully.
Learn to see what they indicate about how you would like your life to be more full and resonate with that. And learn to move through the world as if you’re simply following the roadmap of a good thing, that’s already happened, that you’re celebrating.
And when you get there, celebrate even more. Do it enough, and you’ll create a positive loop of progress no one can compete with. And no one will need to. Because you’ll have enough energy to help the people around you find their way too.
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