• lynneeveratt

The secret to having no regrets

“In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” - Oscar Wilde Oscar Wilde knew that getting what you want can leave you unfulfilled. But how much of what you want is truly what you want and not an imitation of a want that you have learned from others? The price you pay for not knowing where your desires come from can be a nagging sense that you’re on the wrong path. Or worse. One of the top regrets of the dying is not living the life they wanted, but the life others chose for them. At this point you may be thinking that your desires are entirely your own. Nobody influences you. Not acknowledging the ecology of desires in which we all live where our wants are influenced by friends, family, and culture is like living in a fish tank and not recognizing that you’re surrounded by water. The “mimetic” or imitative nature of desire is the theme of a terrific new book by Luke Burgis entitled, Wanting: the power of mimetic desire in everyday life that I've read and highly recommend. “The deathbed is where unfulfilling desires are exposed.” - Steve Jobs Fortunately there are tactics—15 of which Burgis shares in his book—that can help you uncover unfulfilling desires and replace them with intrinsically gratifying alternatives. The first step is to know the history of your desires. When I started thinking about the history of my desires, I realized that I could pinpoint when and where my wanting began. A movie featuring a badass female action hero made me want to work out. A neighbor who went to university not only motivated me to go to university, but selected the school that I would attend. My mother encouraged me to get an MBA based on what she had seen in the media about this trendy degree. It’s embarrassing to admit the extent to which my life has been imitative, but I know that I’m not alone in pursuing mimetic desires. Discovering what you truly want requires some serious reflection, which brings us to the story of Sébastien Bras and the Michelin stars. It’s hard to believe that a tire company wields so much power over the international restaurant industry, but such is the magical power of mimetics. Chefs the world over dream about getting Michelin stars, and once bestowed, they agonize over losing them, even to the point of suicide. Sébastien Bras‘ restaurant Le Suquet had been awarded a coveted three stars, the highest rating in the Michelin universe, but Bras was miserable. Keeping his stars meant living in constant fear of the anonymous visits of Michelin inspectors, playing by Michelin’s rules of “tra-la-la and chichi,” and being imitative rather than imaginative. It was taking all the fun out of being a chef. While on a meditative mountain bike ride, Sébastien Bras made a decision to opt out. He called Michelin and asked the international director of the guide to remove his restaurant. The move got worldwide media attention and jolted other chefs into seeing how they too were captive to same destructive mimetic Michelin desires. Your turn. Are you, like a stressed-out Michelin chef, trapped in a mimetic wheel of desire from which there appears to be no escape? Only you can reflect on the origins of your desires, project where your wants are taking you, and decide if you really want to go there. The best way to get to the heart of what truly motivates you is your fulfillment story. Take a few minutes to write about a time in your life in which you took action, felt you did well, and got a sense of enduring fulfillment that you can still feel to this day. Why did your fulfillment story mean so much to you? If you repeat this exercise for a few fulfillment stories, it will become clearer and clearer what truly motivates you, and you will greatly reduce the likelihood of getting carried away by shallow imitative desires that can lead to deep regrets.

“We would like to go forward with a free spirit, to continue serenely, without tension.” Sébastien Bras knew that he found fulfillment in expressing his love for the landscape that surrounded his restaurant by crafting dishes with local ingredients without worrying about what Michelin's inspectors would think about his creations. Links that satisfy:

  • Professor reveals the No. 1 predictor of happiness CNN Video

  • The Age of Reopening Anxiety The New Yorker

  • The Power of Movement and How to Make It Easy Feel Better Live More Podcast

  • On the Link Between Great Thinking and Obsessive Walking Lithub

  • A few thoughts on depression Noahpinion Substack

Wishing you a fulfilling day, Lynne

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