Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

What could explain a never ending desire?

Asked by wundayatta (58722points) April 25th, 2010

I’ve come to realize that a lot of my unhappiness comes because I seem to always have a desire for more—no matter how much I have. It’s something instinctive. I’ve only recently (this morning?) come to see that it’s there. I think of things I don’t have, but desperately want, and that makes me unhappy.

I’ve been turning my attention to the wonderful things that are already in my life. Thinking of them and appreciating them, and know I can get what I want from them. I don’t have to keep on looking and looking and desiring and desiring.

I suppose other people do the same thing. It might be interesting to hear examples of this. But what I really want to know is why I (or those people who do it) do it. What role does this kind of desire play in our lives? Does it have any positive role at all? Or is it all designed to make us unhappy?

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25 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

More than half the world subscribes to a religion that acknowledges desire as the fount of all suffering.

thriftymaid's avatar

Desire is not “designed.” I have lived both poor and affluent. The happiest times in life were when I had what I needed, but no real excess. I think there is no negative to having desires generally. It shouldn’t rule your thoughts and your life though. It’s a simple way of thinking, but you will always find others with less than you have. Happiness comes from contentment, and that comes to each of us differently.

rebbel's avatar

Are you talking material things or non-material as well?
As for material, i found that, since i have just enough money to get around, i totally don’tt have that desire anymore, simply because i know i can not pay for them.
I don’t know if this works for all, but i do know that, however i am not a hundred percent happy with my financial situation, i am happy that those (non-)desires are not effecting me.

BoBo1946's avatar

yes, desire does have a very positive role in my life…have desire to live right, have a desire to be good to my family, have a desire to eat healthy, etc…Desire can be a good thing if not taken too far. There has to be a balance…desire taken too far can be destructive!

essieness's avatar

I think desire can have a place in our lives as long as it’s not misplaced. For instance, desiring material things to the point that we think we can’t be happy without them = bad. Desiring happiness, love, pushing ourselves to be better people = good (IMO). Desire can also be useful in motivation. We have to desire to advance in some way, whether it be spiritually, in the workplace, getting better at some skill we have.


I think it’s so very important, as you said, to appreciate our lives as they are now. There’s a song lyric that says, “Celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing,” and I think that is so powerful. When we can find contentment with life just as it is, then we’re free to be happy. It’s the constant yearning for more, more, more without appreciating what we have now that can drive us crazy.

I’m still waking up, so it’s very possible none of what I just said made any sense.

zophu's avatar

You’re not supposed to be happy with the things you have. You’re supposed to always desire new things. That’s called living. Absolute contentedness is stasis, might as well be dead. Be content with your desires when possible, don’t condemn them simply because they make you uncomfortable with where you are. You’re on the same path of the people who scoff at those that dream of better worlds, calling them fools believing in some utopia.

Utopia doesn’t’ exist; but better things, better places and better people do. That’s what the “fools” are after. Better they run after their desires and get themselves killed than plant themselves down, hububing at their wants and the drives of others. Those are the kinds of people that poison this world more than any other. Ironic, because it’s they who deal the most condemnation. It’s they who invent heavens (the only thing better) and hells (the only thing worse) in their minds and the minds of children in a sick fucking war against human proclivity. because they aren’t human anymore

They are the most selfish people. Again, ironic because these are the types of people that feel the need (not desire by their own words, but the need) to “serve” their community. They begin by having multiple children, obtaining places of the highest authority they can and otherwise trying to control everything possible—holding as many people back so they aren’t left alone. but they’re always alone

This is a generality of a sickness I see in society. I don’t condemn any individuals specifically.

Your problems aren’t about not having what you desire. Your problem is having the wrong desires—or otherwise not going for your right desires. And remember, desire is just a part of what drives people. If it’s all you’re depending on it will fail you and those depending on you.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

What? I’m confused now. I thought you wanted AMORE.
Now you say FOR MORE!
Amore or for more??? or more amore ! ? ! ~Smores are mixed up~

haha, just kidding with the new over the 30k-hill king!! congrats again
I note that you are the Most lurved, as well as the king of More lurved! I would say you certainly have the More!

In my little Queendom, I am the Queen of More! Long Live the Queenie!
A More-aholic! Addicted to the organically grown carrot on the stick! I’m ok with this.
Just as long as I’m not like my evil sister the Queen of Not Enough. That bitchy corporate climbing little whore! She forgot where she came from, and throws away yesterdays gain and people like a hamburger wrapper. I use appreciation with my more. Like they go together like salt and pepper shakers, (shake it up baby!) like two peas in a comfy, cozy pod!
I would lose my passion if I lost my Moreness! That’s where I get my Muchness from too!

Drive with your Moreness lights on! Not the foglights!

Thank you for this thought provoking question. Will you ask some more please?

Draconess25's avatar

Desire is passion. Passion keeps you alive.

marinelife's avatar

I think desire for “more” is a bad thing. It keeps us from contentment. It keeps us always hungry, never fulfilled.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

As long as Desire is balanced with Appreciation you don’t tend to hold that shallow burning drive that damages ruthlessly, Like a lion and it’s lion tamer.

@dpworkin And yet those same people worship the book that CLEARLY states “And God said, go forth and multiply and be fruitFULL”
I cannot find where God says Go forth and be fruitEMPTY.

@Draconess25 SO Right! Without my Passion, I could easily stay in bed all day long.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

Desire is a life skill tool.
As in an indicator light on a control panel.
It leads me towards what I want to place my attention on.
Like a blinky light.
A spot light.

Draconess25's avatar

@OneMoreMinute Did you make that up? I like!

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@Draconess25 yup!
I have walked on the path of repressing ones desires and learned that it causes tiredness and other health problems. But I learned that.

I love sharing my things/ideas with people, so when I have More, I have More to share with a lot More people!
Moreness and Muchness is not limited to Things, or People, or clothes shoes and purses, or Ideas and wisdom, talents and gifts, happiness and love, colors and numbers etc…
Religions…just look at the Moreness and Muchness the Vatican has!! yet they still want their 10% tithe.

wundayatta's avatar

Yes, I was uncertain about using the word “things” as that which is being desired. For I did mean relationships and love and sex in that group of things one might want more of, or different of. In particular, love. As one who is loved, yet often does not feel loved, I am often (sometimes constantly) looking for more love. It’s crazy-making, because I am already so blessed. But when I am empty, that is the only thing that seems like it could make me feel better.

Then, it seems to me that the desire comes from a place of pain and emptiness. Probably existential emptiness. Which is notoriously difficult to deal with. And if your brain isn’t working very normally at the time, that desire can become extremely difficult to resist, and it can become impossible to see your blessings. Well, not impossible, but easy easy easy to lose sight of.

Such desire can totally mess up your life, and help you lose the very thing you are seeking. But you keep looking forward and not backward, and you can forget that which sits at your side, and even if you do remember, that which you seek can be, in your imagination, so much more perfect. So one ends up believing ones fantasies are more real than the reality that is all about you, but you can not see.

zophu's avatar

@wundayatta That which is at your side should be a part of your desire, or be left behind. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your desires are true. So you can make the choices of what must be left and what must be taken. Even when these choices are made well, it can still lead to disaster for yourself and others. But not making the choices, not leaving anything behind, you get stuck and become just another of the things others have to make the same dangerous choice about.

slick44's avatar

Desire, is nothing more then wanting what you cant have.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@slick44 no I disagree, In fact I Pationately disagree!
it’s an indicator of what you want to put your attention on, what you DO want. Sometimes there are challenges to tend to, deal with, overcome, issues that can get on the path and stumble you up a bit, but they too are doo-able.
Last year I was in a funky no energy thing (first time in my life this happened) and I had No Desire to do anything, except for be on the internet researching and cook and be with my kitties. I even lost desire to hang with friends. Maybe my desire was to just read on the internet. But I didn’t accomplish like I’m used to. It was like I floated or didn’t care as much, didn’t try. It felt like I didn’t have my passion, (not to be confused with DEpression, I was not depressed) and that’s something that I now appreciate because I didn’t have it for awhile. A passionless life is grey, damp, foggy and lacks direction.
Accomplished a lesson,,, don’t take your passion for granted, it’s a gift.

thank you passion!

YARNLADY's avatar

It is wired into our very being. It is a survival technique necessary for the continuation of our species. What some of us do with it is use the feeling as a positive rather than a negative force. I believe most creative people have turned theirs into creating art, music, dance, and other classic contributions.

I desire to live past my 100th birthday. I come from a long lived family on both sides, so my chances are pretty high.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

I think when humans were designed in the beginning, some forgot to drink fluids and dehydrated to death, thus was born Thirst.
There were some who forgot to eat and died of starvation, thus was born Hunger.
Some forgot to come in out of the rain, and caught pnumonia and died, thus was born Clothes and Shelter.
Some were so comfortable, they never hunted and gathered or mated and they soon died off, thus was born DESIRE!
Cave men soon began to learn to speak, now with their extended life-spa.
said, “Snort-grunt Ogg want MMmmm ”! but didn’t know where to go, thus erections were created as a directional tool to easily point the way! Having the blood leave the brain was a genius upgrade to allow caveman to put down stick and stone to walk accross cave to cavewoman!
blah, blah, blablablablabbles yada yada yada
hope you got a chuckle out of OMM’s little “evolution of mans desire!!!”

eventually, we will ALL live happily ever after!

kess's avatar

Desires are designed to keep one looking to outward to the things that are the tangible realities which are all temporary.

And there are no fulfillment of those desires for they are perpetual and always growing, insatiable…

Their purpose is to Distract you from looking inward to the intangible realities which are eternal.

Through minding the inward intangible realities you learn the total truth of yourself and the ultimate purpose of your existence.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I think it’s a result of advertisers telling us that we should want things that we don’t need. Aha! This is what I was searching for. I saw it on Rachael Ray earlier this month and it was really intriguing.

mattbrowne's avatar

The positive role is meeting our basic needs, in particular physiological and safety as described here's_hierarchy_of_needs

Authentic lasting happiness requires esteem and self-actualization instead of the negative, never ending desire for material goods.

MissA's avatar

My desires have nothing to do with the acquisition of things…and, the desires wax and wane. They are the endless possibilities in life. In periods of life wherein I’ve felt somewhat stifled, I desire and fantasize more about those possibilities. When I’ve been in a position to live more spur-of-the-moment, there is no need. At least for me, I see it as a balance. I always want to experience more, but I’m a pretty content person. And, always appreciative.

It took me a while to get here…but, I hear contentment arrives with age.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I think it’s good to have ambition and to want more. I agree with Zophu 100% and couldn’t have said it better myself. If you are perfectly content with just what you have, then you have stopped growing, stopped wanting, and virtually stopped living. Should you roll around on the floor in agony over things you don’t have? Of course not! Sometimes it’s fun just to wish for things. Take for example some of our celebrities. They find themselves with every desire met – fame, fortune, admiring throngs. And what happens then? Finding that they have everything and no longer have unmet desires, they feel that their life is empty and turn to drugs, alcohol, and often suicide.

Sandman's avatar

I don’t have any answers, but what I can tell you is, I’m going through the same thing right now, so just know you’re not alone. It’s clouded my ability to find meaning in my life and I’m just now starting to get back in touch.

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