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Desire Episode 4


· 49:35


[00:00:00] Mark: Do you know what I desire?

[00:00:02] Anya: Go on

[00:00:02] Mark: It's, it's, it's a cat that won't eat my breakfast.

[00:00:07] Anya: Now, are you, are you eating kitty kibble again? Because that might be a part of the issue.

[00:00:11] Mark: Not for at least three months. Um, I've managed to lay, lay off. No, I, I, it was, it was my own mistake. I, I got, I got some lovely cheese cobs. Um, cuz I, I, I, long journey last night I ordered pizza. Pizza never arrived, so I've been hungry. Um, and so I, I, I made, I made a little, a little sort of sandwich thing and, um, I went over to the office to, uh, do some, you know, a little bit of prep and get things ready.

[00:00:42] Uh, I was gone 30 seconds and then when I came back there was a cat sort of lapping at my lapping at my breakfast. And he has absolutely no sense of being told off. He does not know. He's got absolutely no fear whatsoever. I would just like him to be a little bit more afraid of me than he is. I don't want him to live in fear. I don't want him to be like his sister, but I'd just like him to have a little bit because I'm massive. I'm huge in compa. I mean, he's big, but I'm much, much bigger.

[00:01:15] Anya: Yeah. But yeah, but he, but you knows, he thinks that A, you won't fight and B, he could still probably take you. So it's

[00:01:21] Mark: he could

[00:01:22] Anya: it's, it's, it's not fear you're asking for, darling. It's respect. . Yeah.

[00:01:27] Mark: Oh, that cuts so much deeper. Oh.

[00:01:33] Anya: Or, or he just thinks he, he, like, he hasn't got any like, personal boundaries and he just thinks that you are like, like one being, and therefore, why would you be upset with him when, when you are feeding both of you no. The, the one entity with this glorious breakfast bath you have lovingly prepared for you as in a collective.

[00:01:55] Mark: in a, as a yes.

[00:01:56] Anya: The Royal you

[00:01:57] Mark: Welcome to the A to Z of Happiness, with Anya Pearse and me Mark Steadman. Join us as we unpack the science of happiness, one letter at a time. This week it's D for desire.

[00:02:13] I mean, apart from the fact that it's fourth in the alphabet, uh, what, what, why desire?

[00:02:23] Anya: Well, I guess a couple of reasons really. One is, you know, as long as you know why I mentioned or came up with the idea of, of belonging for be, this is something I struggle with. , this is something, you know, I'm, I'm not picking things that I find easy and I can go, hi, yeah, this is what I do. This is, this is how to do it.

[00:02:41] Cuz I've been doing it well this is, this is like, hi. Yeah, I'm, you have a cat on your piano behind you by the way, are you sure that tinsel Christmas tree is gonna be safe?

[00:02:52] Mark: I'm sure, I'm not sure.

[00:03:00] Anya: I love how this is such a professional recording. Well, I just see in the background this extremely fluffy tale. He knows he's being spoken about. Wants be part of the enterprise proceedings

[00:03:13] Mark: So desire then

[00:03:15] Anya: So desire. Yeah. , it's, uh, it's again, you know, it's something that I struggle with. , it's tied up with, I think for me and a lot of people who I speak to about sense of deserving, , and shame and guilt over things that me, me, we, me we may want or. Might not want to occur. , and it's almost implicit in, you know, in this conversation and these podcasts of, you know, part of it is, you know, this is desire to be happier. You know, so

[00:03:51] Mark: How dare we?

[00:03:52] Anya: I know how very dare we. , and so, you know, I just this idea of a, you know, a strong feeling or wanting something, , you know, strong wish to, to do or have something as the, the Colin's dictionary would, uh,

[00:04:06] Mark: mm.

[00:04:06] Anya: beautifully put. Um, and the fact that it's kind of associated with these things like wanting or wishing or longing or craving, you know, there's something about almost a lack of control there.

[00:04:23] Mark: Yeah.

[00:04:25] Anya: You

[00:04:25] Mark: Yeah. There's a, there's a real, a real kinetic sense with, with something like desire that it's, it's really being drawn to things. There's a real sense of that, uh, of that movement.

[00:04:35] Anya: Yeah, and I think, you know, we can get. Tied up with, and, and you know, this is, I, I, I, I looked at the Wikipedia page for the word desire and got hugely intimidated by all the philosophical, philosophical, psychological, or the articles, uh, interpretations of the term, you know. But there is this thing of, you know, Almost a split between like, you know, higher desires, you know, a desire for world peace.

[00:05:03] You know, I, I, I, I wish that the world was, you know, kinder, you know, we all were kinder to each other and these more human, these more body based, what we might call like more base desires, you know, is often, you often think of desires and have been associated, you know, in a negative. Not that negative, but in a more, hmm. It often comes associated with things that don't involve sex, basically. Um, you know, the seven deadly sins.

[00:05:37] Mark: It's funny that se things that are sensual, we, we, that's sort of been co-opted as well. I dunno about co-opted, but that is something that, that we have as well is we describe something as e sensual then, then that has a connotation as well. Uh, where it's, you know, it, it really doesn't have to mean that.

[00:05:54] But then now I feel like the 14 year old boy who would say certain things and then have to explain. No, just cuz you think they're. But it's interesting, like the desire for world peace or the desire to, I have a desire to have a flat stomach, but I'm not actively working towards that. I'm, I'm not, not doing that, but it's, yeah, there, there, there's, there's something that we can desire. We can, you know, it's, it's, it's hoping, it's dreaming rather than, It doesn't feel as intentional to me.

[00:06:37] Anya: Yeah. Yeah, and I think. You know, this is, you know, the positive side of desire. You know, I'm gonna talk about, you know, explain a little bit more and separate it out from, you know, wants and needs. But this idea of desire being a can be a positive force actually, because you know those dreams and those wishes can be the start, the genesis of us taking action, you know, they can be pointers for us.

[00:07:07] Work out what it is that we actually want to experience in our lives. You know, if we allow space for them without judgment actually. And cuz I think that's, you know, that's the thing, you know, there's the second, the second noble truth in Buddhism, you know, states that desiring is the cause of all suffering, you know, and so even just getting to the point of desiring something, of having wishes and longings can feel, , Really painful or uncomfortable because it can, we often, there's something about this which can be triggered by a lack of something. You know, we may not be the first way that we may recognize something is by its absence rather than its presence and wanting more.

[00:08:00] Mark: Hmm.

[00:08:01] Anya: I. And, and that can make it turn into kind of like cravings for things. , but, but yeah, but it's part of, you know, I, I love the work of Dr. Paul Gilbert, who does Compassion focused therapy.

[00:08:13] Wrote is the author of a Compassionate Mind, which I touched on last week, and he. You know, talked about it as being, you know, this drive state, this dopamine state, this, this state that this energizing wants us to accomplish and achieve things. You know, it kind of has to start somewhere. It's, it's how we, how it expresses itself.

[00:08:36] You know, if we are desiring something and we're focused on the not having it. and we then start beating ourselves up about it for some reason. Then, you know, it's, it's, it's whether these things become warped, whether these things become compulsive. You know, there is a difference between compelling and compulsive.

[00:08:57] You know, a compelling desire actually means, oh, actually I do want to make some actions, take some steps, you know, what is the first next action I can take to make this dream a reality? Versus something which is compulsive, you know, which very often tied to, you know, uh, developmental unmet needs. Uh, this, this idea of, you know, having a well of these unmet needs, which I forget the exact, therapist who, uh, Dr.

[00:09:29] Gaba matte quotes, but he says, you know, in addiction, it's hard to get enough of something that almost works.

[00:09:37] Mark: Mm.

[00:09:38] Anya: you know, and it's again, this relationship with desire. Is it, you know, going to explain in a second, is it something that is actually a generative force? If it's something that with a a, a pool energy we are attracted to, we are drawn in a healthy, positive way? Or is it something which is we're being pushed, you know, we're being ruled from the shadow.

[00:10:06] by things which, and again, this is where the sense of, you know, this discomfort with a lack of control, I think comes into play.

[00:10:15] Mark: Yeah, there's something interesting about acting on a desire or or chasing. Pursuing something that that is, that you desire. Does it always have to take you out of your comfort zone? It feels like it, it, it, it will do a lot because if it's important to you, then maybe, you know, I guess because if it was important to you and if it was easy, you, you'd already have it.

[00:10:43] So by the fact that you, you desire it and. Of the fact that you don't have it, it probably isn't easy, so therefore you probably do have to cross some bridges and deal with some trolls in order to, in order to get it.

[00:10:56] Anya: Hmm, possibly. I think it's, it's depends on. Whether we are trying to be, uh, pleasure seeking pain, avoiding, or having, you know, experiencing something called a positive drive. , you know, at one of the books I I, I, I love is the Desire Map and I was just flicking through it last night and wanting to bookmark every page as I have done every time I've picked it up.

[00:11:28] And there's a lovely set of questions she has. Which ask us to kind of just think of, you know, you know it, the fear-based, you know, pleasure seeking is kind of what we associate with desire. And you know, certainly Martin Seligman and his PERMA model, you know, the Faye first thing, you know, it starts with P for positive emotions.

[00:11:49] It ends with a for accomplishment. And you know, we often. Associate the, uh, the, the successful accomplishment of desires with pos, positive emotions and a sense of accomplishment. But when it, when the pain avoiding, it's all about, you know, desiring, you know, these ideas of, you know, what will other pink other people think of me?

[00:12:10] You know, what can other people give to me, you know, and wanting to avoid pain, whereas a positive drive, you know, as you're talking about this idea, You know, crossing some bridges, you know, fighting some trolls. You know, is this moving me forward? You know, does I, do I feel more like myself pursuing this desire?

[00:12:30] You know, will I sleep peacefully tonight? Even she asked and then, you know, would my kid or grandma or best friend be proud of me? . You know, cause I think that is when we are and, and, and being caught, you know, moving out of our comfort zone into our stretch zone without going so far. We end up in the panic zone. and so, you know, crossing those bridges in daylight, possibly with company versus going at midnight on our own on a foggy night. And all we can hear are what are howling animals and strange eyes glowing in the gloom,

[00:13:12] Mark: Gosh, uh, I shouldn't sleep tonight. Yeah, there's, there's so much. I think, and, and, and this, this gets us off, off track, uh, and off topic, but I think there's, there's something really interesting there around going out of your comfort zone and being able to do it with someone who a little bit like, uh, the, the two people in the hole.

[00:13:33] Um, going through that with someone who can say it's. I've done this before. You know, I, I can't do it for you, but I can walk with you and, uh, you know, I, I've, I know the way, um, and that, that can be, that can be quite useful.

[00:13:45] Anya: And, and, and I think also having the other person to remind us that where we are okay to desire something, I think this is where I get, can, can get really challenged by it. And you know, this is something I know with like conversations with other people as well, often stymied by the belief that we don't deserve what we want. No, we're recording this. , uh, uh, if I may say before the first of season, uh, I may, um, and I have a very strong memory of, you know, back when I was a kid, the internet was, was, wasn't even a glint in Tim Berners Lee's Eye, and the only way.

[00:14:26] Mark: didn't invent the internet.

[00:14:27] Anya: I, you know what I mean? Oh, . No, no. Good,

[00:14:31] Mark: to do it.

[00:14:31] Anya: good, good, good connection.

[00:14:33] Yeah.

[00:14:34] Mark: It's all right. Go.

[00:14:35] Anya: Yeah. I've been watching the secret genius of modern life. Yeah, I know. Uh, fabulous TV series. Anyway. Uh, When I was a kid, the only way to really know what toys are out there were either going into a shop physically, which was a very rare occurrence, or more likely where I was. You'd get a get a catalog twice a.

[00:14:57] No, this was family album. This was even like our goss was even before, you know, that was, that was, that was the, the laminated book of Joy. It was belonged before , you know, that that would've physically meant having to go like to the next like large conglomeration, you know, this was like in your own home and.

[00:15:18] You know, looking, the, the album issued kind of, it must have been late that August time was the one you always looked forward to as a kid, because at the back pages it was, that was where all the toys were and I grew up in, in poverty basically, and, and was very aware of the lack of money in our household.

[00:15:43] And so I. Look at, go through these, these glorious, multicolored, beautiful pages, you know, full of things to inspire, you know, desire and joy and wanting and, and excitement. And I would limit myself to only looking at the things under a certain voice point, cuz there was absolutely no point in me asking for anything above.

[00:16:10] I dunno, I think it was like five pounds at the time. You know, it might have been slightly less, actually. There's no point looking at anything above that because to ask for anything more would be to incite rejection. It would be, it would place my permits in a difficult position, and I wouldn't actually believe that I could deserve that to be honest.

[00:16:32] And so, you know, even at that young age, you know, I'm talking before double digits, eight, nine, actually having a sense of the world and how much I was, I was allowed to ask for. And you know, since then the, the while I do not recall the details of those pages, the weight of that book and the weight of that knowledge still stays with.

[00:17:00] even to this day, you know, more than 40 years later.

[00:17:04] Mark: I reckon a lot of us can relate in very different ways. You know, I think your circumstances may vary, but I reckon the feelings are, are fairly universal.

[00:17:17] Anya: Hmm.

[00:17:17] Mark: So given that, what are some. Questions we can ask ourselves. Some things that we can, can think about, uh, in order to, I guess, help us get, uh, handle on a desire, you know, understand what is a desire?

[00:17:33] Like where, where can we begin?

[00:17:36] Anya: Well, I'm gonna, you know, the first place to begin is the simplest, and for a lot of us, the hardest, just asking us ourselves, just asking ourselves the question, what do you want? What do you , what do you, what do you want? What do you really, really want? As the spice girls

[00:17:51] Mark: As, as so, so, uh, aptly put it in that Iva Novello award-winning, uh, song.

[00:17:56] Anya: Indeed. , and it can be really difficult because for so many people, they're so used to focusing on what other people want or the things that they don't want. , you know, I asked this of, of someone I know who's going through tremendous relationship difficulties at the moment, and. , you know, I asked him, what do you want?

[00:18:19] And it was all, it was basically pain avoidance. I, you know, I want the hurting to stop, you know, rather than Okay. But, and you know, if, if that stopped, what would you like instead? You know, what do you want, as you know, regardless of your common circumstances. I think that's the thing. . You know, and there's two points on that.

[00:18:40] One is when we are overstretched and under-resourced, it's really hard to be creative. It's really hard to dream, to actually think of something differently. And two, our current circumstances tend to influence our thinking. You know, how we're perceiving our thinking. So if we are, , stressed or angry, or feeling depressed, It's hard to forget that this is not permanent, personal or pervasive as, uh, miss Dr.

[00:19:07] Segan put it, you know? , and, you know, this was part of my challenge in this less, no less so now, but certainly, you know, I was, , I used to go to my GP about depression, you know, off and on for a long time, and I was. , um, described as Anne hedonic at one point, which meant I was incapable of feeling pleasure and, and taking pleasure out of life.

[00:19:32] , and so in that state asking me what I wanted, I just wouldn't have had a clue.

[00:19:37] Mark: Yeah.

[00:19:38] Anya: When I'm, when I'm tired and depleted, you know, I have chronic fatigue syndrome, , I struggle to find an answer because I just don't have the cognitive resources at that time. To even reach out and, and imagine something other than what is occurring right in this moment.

[00:19:56] Mark: It's like, what do you want? No, That's, that's, that's all I, that's all I can give you. No, just no

[00:20:06] Anya: yeah. Yeah. But it, but it actually makes me think like, like a toddler.

[00:20:10] Mark: Hmm.

[00:20:10] Anya: Trying to work out what it is they want they to eat, and I bring it up to their mouth and go shaking their heads and stuff until like you, you then realize it's probably ice cream and then they'll gobble that down.

[00:20:23] Mark: It also reminds me of being, um, very, very young, so probably toddler age. I have a memory of this. It happened a couple of times in my memory of being in my, uh, being held, uh, by, by my mom and me crying and my mum asking. , what's wrong? And my answer would be, I'm crying And then she would ask why? And I, I had no, I don't, I don't know.

[00:20:52] I just know that I'm crying.

[00:20:54] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And I think we can get so caught up in causality as well.

[00:21:00] Mark: Mm

[00:21:01] Anya: I mean, I love this from, , Michael Neal, who is a wonderful author and speaker and, and coach, uh, from the three principles, , perspective. And he talks about, well, actually, he, he, he, he spoke to someone and they relayed it back to him.

[00:21:16] This idea of more full stops, full of fewer com.

[00:21:19] Mark: Ooh,

[00:21:20] Anya: And so, you know, I'm crying full stop versus I'm crying calmer because, and then cuz we will make up, we will rationalize, we will come up with stories, we will, you know, because we, our way of feeling safe in the world is to create a narrative around things that make things make sense.

[00:21:39] And actually, you know, actually us having ourselves not make sense to ourselves can be particularly terrifying. Again, we're coming back to this word control. You know, I'm, I'm, I'm in this body, I'm in this ship, but I'm not steering it right now and I don't know where it's headed.

[00:21:59] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:21:59] Anya: You know, that can be, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm really lucky.

[00:22:04] this, this is the strange beginning to the sentence and understand by in a second, my body twitches and spasms un. , I lose control of my body, particularly when I'm exhausted. , I lose the ability to stand. My arms stop working, my legs stop working. , even something, someone gave me a foot massage, which should be really lovely and relaxing, my body was skitting around on, on the bed like I was a fish in a hot skillet.

[00:22:34] I just, and there was, I lost con, you know, I lose control of my body and. Just being okay, learning how to be okay with that and just going, okay, that is just what my body does. And actually look at being this, this curious observer, Ooh, it's doing this now. Oh, it doesn't normally do that. Or, oh, this is, yeah, this is the sort of thing it normally does.

[00:23:00] Don't worry, because then you know this idea of control. I can't control what my body is doing, but I have found that I am able to control my response to that in a funny kind of way. You know, I will in those moments, desire my body to chill the fuck out, and I can be. I can have a preference for that. It can soften down a bit.

[00:23:28] You know, I'm gonna talk, you know, I, I love this continuum of wants, needs and desires and things. , you know, eventually, you know, when you can soften things down, soften, lessen the control, lessen the craving, the needing, the hunger, you start to get into this territory of preference or no preference, which can be, , kind of liberating actually.

[00:23:50] Yeah.

[00:23:53] Mark: Well, that brings me onto the question then. Uh, again, going back to my childhood, uh, and lots of people's childhoods, , of saying I need, you know, whe whether it's, uh, a toy or, uh, an ice cream, like I need that, and then the answer coming back, you don't need it. You want it. How do we tell the difference?

[00:24:16] Anya: Well, I think it's, it's, it's subtle. Uh, well, it definitely can feel subtle to me. , and very often what allows me to work out, whether it's, uh, I, I think that the most extreme version is need, you know, that's where it feels, cuz that's when our survival instinct kicks in. That's why it's so compelling.

[00:24:40] It's like, if I don't get this thing now, I will. And it can feel like that when you're a small child because you have very little ability to re regulate your emotions, and so all you can, you're just activated and you're taking that as a survival threat.

[00:24:55] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:24:56] Anya: You know, when we can soften down, if we can, you know, and this is what I have to do.

[00:25:00] Sometimes I have to just like sit my ass down on the sofa , just so that my nervous system can just dial down a bit. So I can just tune in. Okay. So is it, , what's being triggered here?

[00:25:17] Mark: Hmm.

[00:25:18] Anya: You know, is there a part of me that thinks that, you know, whether I will either literally or metaphorically? Cuz the ego, death ego doesn't wanna die either.

[00:25:26] Baby

[00:25:28] Mark: No sir.

[00:25:29] Anya: No sir. Um,, so can that urgency just drop down? Can I, you know, give myself the inner emotional support. During those survival fears just to loosen my grip. And then it becomes a want, you know? And we often can still get very concerned with the getting, but I love, love, love this book by uh, uh, jet SAS and Marlay Lyons.

[00:25:57] It's like 22 years old. This was, it was published in the year 2000. And they talk about this idea of actually just, again, just being with the wanting, cuz we can, again, we can get so. That, that drive thing, the, the desire for things to be, uh, fulfilled. It's the attachment. That's what the Buddhist kind of like, you know, look at it's, it's the attachment that causes the suffering and to actually can be really fully enjoy and experience wanting something, you know, separate from, you know, this, separate from this, this need to, to to, to get it, to have this, this need, this, this want, , Met, you know, the idea of just simply identifying, accepting and experiencing our wanting, which is very different from, you know, the, the collapse of giving up or, you know, the chance of unworthiness.

[00:26:49] Because very often if we don't get something, we take it as, again, I just said, we are narrative making creatures. We take it as meaning something about our value and our, and our worth.

[00:27:01] Mark: There has to be a therefore, or a, or a because or a, yeah.

[00:27:06] Anya: And, and we are, you know, there was a lovely interview with Tim Ferris and Dr. Gabel matte talking about this. Our brain will jump to whatever storyline most fits our self-belief.

[00:27:21] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:27:22] Anya: And, you know, most of us, , at the core, right at the very center, , have some version of the belief that I am not enough.

[00:27:31] and this is why not getting these things can be so painful and it can be so compelling sometimes is because it re reawakens, reconfirms, reignites this. Deep, painful, uncomfortable sense that at our intrinsic core we are not enough. And that by getting that thing we will be solved. We will be saved from that experience

[00:28:05] Mark: We'll be made whole.

[00:28:07] Anya: we would be made whole.

[00:28:08] Yes. Because we assume that we are not whole without it. , But then when we, this is where it gets interesting. There's a whole continuum now. It starts with need being the most intense, the survival thing, the want, you know, still compelling, but we can actually maybe just sit with that and allow it to, , inform us, but then we move into desire.

[00:28:29] And where there's other things are kind of like a push energy, you know, as you, you know, rightly pointed out at the beginning, we can be drawn to something and this, you know, desire become. Something that's generative. , can, and I I love this quote from them. You say, you know, needs and wants in this way of looking at them are like reactions to something we feel is missing and necessary while desire is a yearning for something, be because we have an interest in it and a receptivity towards it, which completely makes me think of s.

[00:29:06] You know, this idea of the relationship with the beloved, which is their term for God, you know, it is, and I forget the exact quote, but it's something along the lines of, it isn't, not about quenching that thirst, but actually developing the perfect thirst so that you continually drink from it. And you know, if Souf is, um, is there's a lot of yearning and longing and actually just looking at this through the frame.

[00:29:34] Receptivity. I think that's so, cuz if there's a, if there's a grabby energy to need and want desire is receptive. It's, it's, it's open arms. Open hands. It's space for things,

[00:29:51] Mark: The, well, the, the image, and we, we, you know, we can, we can discuss it or we can park it, but the, the image that keeps coming to me is of like the 1940s, fifties, sixties cartoons where you've got. A dog or a cat and it's just smelled a pie, cool cooling on a, on a windowsill, and the smoke waft and, and the nose goes up and then, then the whole body is lifted up.

[00:30:23] Anya: Yes.

[00:30:24] Mark: and down the stairs being carried on the current of this, of this steam as it as it's coming from the, from the pie and the and, and the, and the

[00:30:32] Anya: She aroma

[00:30:34] Mark: the aroma. Yeah. And there's, there's something, uh, that won't leave my brain of, of that notion of really being compelled and pulled towards it, but also it, it being. it's always slow and kind of luxurious and, and there's, they're savoring the, the journey to the pie, you know, the, the, then getting to the windowsill. There might be a chaotic thing. There might never get the pie. They usually don't get the pie or there's a horrible consequences. But that scene is always kind of quite slow and, and meandering and it's, it's allowed to be that.

[00:31:09] , which I think is interesting. There is space given, given.

[00:31:13] Anya: Hmm. And the word enticement

[00:31:17] Mark: Oh yeah.

[00:31:18] Anya: has just popped into my head. you know, and, and you know, we can only be enticed by things if we have, if we are receptive, if there is something about us. You know, if, if that cattle dog had a cold and couldn't smell, couldn't smell the aroma of the pie, just walk past and completely ignore it, you know, it's having, I think it's, and that speaks to me about a receptivity to life.

[00:31:44] A receptivity to things. , being able to echa us, being able to entice us and are, and allowing ourselves to, hmm. To respond to that, you know, with, with a lightness, you know, rather than this, this, you know, a, a compulsion or a craving. You know, just allowing things almost, you know, this idea of what is it, emergence

[00:32:14] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:32:15] Anya: actually. We can allow things to emerge and be drawn to them and actually allow that sense of being drawn to them to really, , act as almost like it was a game of hotter or colder. You know what, what's, what's, feels exciting to me today? . and this kind of ties in with something which, you know, I'm really curious about.

[00:32:39] You know, what would happen if we were guided by our desires? You know, if to take that cartoon analogy, you know, we. We keep our nose up in the air,

[00:32:51] Mark: Hmm.

[00:32:52] Anya: you know, not constant, not all the time cause we want to be present, what's going on in our circumstances. But actually there's also something about a lifting of the gaze from what immediately in front of us to our horizon.

[00:33:05] Mark: Merlin Mann talks about, I dunno if, if he borrowed this from somewhere else, but he, he talks about looking for the chimneys. So when you are walking out and about, look, look for the chimneys. On houses and buildings. And what that does is it keeps your gaze up and, and more towards the sun and generally a more positive space than sort of looking down and downtrodden and looking at your feet.

[00:33:34] , and I just think that's a nice, a nice way of helping you guide yourself towards that is to, yeah, just look for the.

[00:33:41] Anya: And actually I'm just thinking on a phys, you know, I did, , emotional freedom technique training and they would of, you know, during this, if a client is getting particularly, , emotionally hooked, very often they will lower their gaze or close their eyes, and which, which, , enhances the emotional intensity.

[00:34:02] Now that's useful sometimes if you want someone to really tune into something so that they can actually work out, you know, what's going on for them. You know, sometimes you know the answer to, you know, to, to what do you want is, and they say, I don't know. It's actually okay. So just let's drop into your.

[00:34:19] You know, what's, what's going on in your body? And actually just listening to that. And that can be a great way, you know, sometimes of just closing our eyes, lowering our gates to actually shut out stimuli. But so often we do that habitually and we become hypnotized by our immediate concerns, you know, our, our immediate emotions.

[00:34:43] and just this idea of, you know, raising our chins up, looking up in acceptance and commitment training. There's a wonderful practice called, , dropping Anchor, which deliberately has, you know, it's, it's ace, it's, , acknowledge what's going on inside you, otherwise you're just avoiding it. connect to your.

[00:35:04] And so, you know, I I, let me just take you, if you, if you know, take you through it right now. So right now, you know, what are you feeling, Yeah. And cold. And then if you kind of move your arms up and around, you can feel that, you know, there's this coldness and there's this body around you experiencing the.

[00:35:23] Mark: Hmm.

[00:35:25] Anya: And then the, the E is to, you know, is, is to expand to your environment and actually looking around and actually counting, you know, what are five things that you can see right now?

[00:35:37] Mark: Microphone, Anya. Headphones, fidget spinner, mixer.

[00:35:43] Anya: Yeah. And actually just, and then you know, the things you can hear is probably my voice. Things you can smell and actually taking us into our senses and connecting with our environment. And, you know, this is a wonderful way, you know, , if you go onto Ross Harris's website, he has some free audios taking you through this process.

[00:36:04] And it is a wonderful way to regulate our nervous system, to take us out of our fear-based thinking and give us the, the resources and capacity. Perhaps answer, you know, what, what, you know, to the question, you know, what do we want? Um, or, you know, what might happen if you wanted to be guided by your desires, but certainly the, the, the queen of the latter is Danielle Laport.

[00:36:33] She has, you know, I mentioned earlier her book, the Desire Map, and she talks about these things of core desired feelings, and she puts it, you know, you are not chasing the goal, you're chasing a feeling. You hope reaching the goal will give you. and you know, I, I love this because it gives us a bit more freedom and agency.

[00:36:56] You know, if my goal is to, , is, is to, I dunno, run a marathon. say, you know, given my health, that's not. A particularly helpful goal for me can be, you know, a lovely aspiration, but each day that I'm not doing something to, to meet, it is a day where my inner critic can have a field day. Whereas if my value is self care and actually the feeling I want to have through winning a marathon is perhaps, I dunno, uh, agency or , confidence.

[00:37:34] Mark: yeah, work towards a long term goal and stick to it, and consistency. Yeah.

[00:37:40] Anya: You know, or stability, like, you know, I can find lots of different ways to get those feelings independent of a set goal, which, you know, for most of us, we can have goals to aim for. , but, you know, life has, life can have other ideas, shall we say,

[00:38:01] Mark: Sure can.

[00:38:05] Anya: Yeah. So I, I do sometimes wonder whether, you know, the question, what do you want? Can be more as, as, as, as a certain, as a way to get there could be, you know, how do I want to feel?

[00:38:20] Mark: I, yeah, I, that, that, that sticks with me. I think because it's, it's, it's, it's a great way of being able to potentially, Sort of do an end around, , some of those things that you, you think perhaps you, you, you get a craving for something or a, you know, a, a a want for something and you think that the solution is, is X, but if, if X is perhaps not the, the best option there is, well, what would having X allow you to feel?

[00:38:53] And so often that's actually different from what X does make you. for example, um, I might feel that eating a large pizza will make me happier. What it will actually do is give me a brief moment of, oh, that tasted nice. Like I could have probably had a slice of pizza as opposed to a pizza, and then I wouldn't be up awake at night and I wouldn't be, uh, feeling stodgy and bloated and slow the next morning.

[00:39:28] So those are the things that I'm getting, whereas what I actually wanted to feel was that thing of there's a nice, that's a nice T of pepperoni, uh, and there's a little Pippa on there and, and, and you know, slushing around with the cheese and that's all lovely. And I could have probably have got that with one slice as opposed to my initial want to eat the entire pizza

[00:39:49] Anya: Well,

[00:39:49] Mark: dunno if that's helpful.

[00:39:51] Anya: No, no, no, no. Well, well, well, I'm just thinking the way you're describing that is really sensible, and actually what you wanted to have was a sensual experience. you know, experience of the senses

[00:40:01] Mark: Thank you. I wanted a central experience with my pizza. Yes.

[00:40:05] Anya: and frankly, you know, it's a really good pizza. Don't we all, um, , and I think this is where, you know, I think this, I don't think I might have made this one up myself, but I doubt it. This idea of, you know, today's expectations of tomorrow's resentments.

[00:40:25] Mark: Ooh,

[00:40:25] Anya: gotta be stolen from somewhere. That's too good.

[00:40:27] Um, and, and I think this is what can, you know why so many people have like midlife crises?

[00:40:34] Mark: Mm.

[00:40:35] Anya: Because they've done all the things that they were told what they should do to get to a certain point and be happy. And yet they get to, you know, 14 are going, why do I feel so unfulfilled?

[00:40:47] Mark: All right. Get outta my head on you,

[00:40:50] Anya: I know there's a, and there's a great image.

[00:40:52] You know, I think it's the, it's a thing, you know, uh, a sign which has been altered, you know, cuz it's often, you often see this in like museums or, or public spaces about belongings, but it says, attention. Do not leave your longings unattended.

[00:41:07] Mark: Oh, hey there. Hey there. Hey, see. Hey,

[00:41:11] Anya: I know, I know,

[00:41:12] Mark: Hey, what

[00:41:14] Anya: uh, it probably works better as a official. , but uh, yeah. And so, you know, c cuz to me, you know, when, when you're talking about the pizza and they making you happy and stuff, you know, so many of us turn to things like food to numb ourselves from feeling.

[00:41:31] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:41:32] Anya: You know, and, and the fine line between comforting and numbing

[00:41:36] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:41:38] Anya: you know, you know, com comfort is like one, one slice of pizza.

[00:41:41] Numbing is three, you know, whole pizzas. Um,

[00:41:47] Mark: Yeah.

[00:41:47] Anya: know, the term eating your feelings is, is, is in the, is in the common usage for a reason. , so yeah. , this is this. These are the things which can happen. If we, if we leave our longings, our desires unattended, you know, we can be so detached from them, we may not even know, you know, what they are. And this is where the work of nonviolent communication and you know, the work of just finding out your needs and emotions and sometimes actually.

[00:42:17] What can be useful is to, you know, just keep a record or to notice when you're feeling angry or frustrated or, or grumpy or disconnected and just, you know, we don't want to make too much of an causal link. We're just pointing these things out as kind of, this is information, this is data for us. But one of the best things I've seen is in, again, undefended love, where, uh, they talk about a client.

[00:42:45] I was having fights with his wife because she says, you know, every time I ask you what you want, you don't know. You just basically say whatever it is that you want. And he was like, well, yeah. And he actually, the client would set a timer on his phone, my little timer, and each time he went off, he would actually just check in with what he was feeling.

[00:43:04] And it started off with his bodily sensations. Oh, actually, I'm a bit hungry. Ooh, I'm a bit thirsty. But actually just having this process, this dialogue, this relationship, , you know, softening the, the fears around finding out. Cuz again, I think now going back to, you know, the friend who I was talking about at the beginning of this, who, when I asked him what he wanted with regarding his relationships, you know, didn't want, didn't know, just wanted the paint to end.

[00:43:38] But we can, we can be in situations where, We don't want to acknowledge what we want because we know that it would cause considerable change, potential upset. We could piss people off. We could hurt people. We could lose people.

[00:43:58] Mark: Or we could try really, really, really hard and not get it. I mean, I'm, I mean that seriously, we could, we could want something and we can try really hard, and then we have to deal with what happens when we don't get it,

[00:44:14] Anya: Yeah.

[00:44:15] Mark: which makes it then hard to want certain things.

[00:44:18] Anya: yes. I think you're talking about rejection sensitive, um, rsd

[00:44:24] Mark: I wasn't necessarily talking about anything specific. But I, yeah, I think, I think there are, there, there's two sides to that. That thing of, we were talking about earlier of being afraid to want, or being afraid to desire something because what if I'm not worthy? But there's also, I think of that scene from the office where Tim is, he's, he's going to ask Dawn out. And he has a little piece to camera and he says, it's like rolling a dice short. I could throw a six. I could absolutely throw a six. I could also throw, throw a one. And he's stymied by that fear of what the consequences are if he shoots for the moon and, and end up in Droitwich. And so I, I I, I don't know, it just, it, when you were sort of listing those things, it, it, it sort of made me think about one of those things of, I guess it's not that you don't want them, but you can be afraid to acknowledge or to attach to that want because you are, because then you know what if, or even, you know, what if I want that thing and I get it, and then it turns out that I didn't want it all along. you know, now I'm just a, now I'm just a hungry ghost to, uh, to, to, to coin a phrase.

[00:45:53] Anya: Yeah, because cuz we're very bad predictors of what will make us happy. We're very bad predictors of the future,

[00:46:00] Mark: Yeah.

[00:46:01] Anya: you know. . If you have had, you know, lots of experiences of not getting what you want, it's just far too risky. You know, if we're going back to the survival thing again, you know, we're going back to fight or flight.

[00:46:15] You know, we've had enough, we have, our data analysis has concluded. That shit's awful. I'm not gonna get it. Why's the, why the fuck should I try anyway? Cuz it just means I'm gonna make a tit of myself. Be vulnerable and get slapped.

[00:46:28] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:46:29] Anya: Not that I'm talking from personal experience in the slightest, no

[00:46:35] and yet I have had, you know, I'm just thinking once experience in particular when shit absolutely crashed and burned

[00:46:45] Mark: Hmm.

[00:46:46] Anya: I, you know, I, I wanted something badly. I communicated it. Things went so far south. I think they're still looking for it in the Outback somewhere in Australia. and closing that door meant that I could, again, having looking for the chimneys, getting your nose in the air, you know there's more than one pie in the world.

[00:47:08] Mark: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. well to, to wrap to round us out then, , what, what can Mary Oliver offer us? Cause I have a feeling that Mary Oliver Oliver can offer us something. , I, I just have this sense.

[00:47:24] Anya: Well, you know, I, I think Mary off, uh, Mary Oliver can offer us a great deal, but I just love. As a closing offering, just like the first line of the poem, I'm gonna share with you. You do not have to be good, and so let me share with you Wild Geese. As a reminder, right now as we close this, this conversation on desire, you do not have to be good.

[00:47:50] You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair. Yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile, the world goes on. Meanwhile, the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.

[00:48:23] Meanwhile, The wild geese high in the clean blue air are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting, over and over, announcing your place in the family of things.


[00:48:52] Mark: The A to Z of Happiness is presented by Anya Pearse and me, Mark Steadman. It's produced by Origin and you can find us at atozofhappiness.com, where you'll also find links to the things we discussed. If you know someone who could benefit from hearing this episode, please share it with them, whichever way is easiest for you. Take care and do join us again next week on the A to Z of Happiness.

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Creators and Guests

Anya Pearse
Anya Pearse
Intuitive adviser, facilitator, and positive psychology practitioner.
Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman
Coach helping digital creatives with big feelings


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