Dallin Oaks has said, “Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. Desires we act upon determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.”
Many years ago I found myself at what felt like a dead-end in my life and relationships. My marriage was disconnected and mistrusting; my career felt stagnant and misdirected. There seemed to be no sweetness to be found in life.
Those trying times had a purpose; painful experiences can be a key motivator to nudging us back on a healthier life course, drawing us away from the wastelands where we sometimes wander.
I am grateful that for me personally, rather than making me give up on my marriage and life, this difficult period led me to consider and readjust my desires, what I really wanted. In doing this I experienced and learned things about the power of desires and dreams in our lives. Allow me to share a few of those insights:
1. We always have desires, but those desires are not always directed at what will best serve us and our ultimate happiness. The wonderful truth is that as we form appropriate goals and visions in our lives, our desire to achieve those goals can override other less healthy desires that might have us bound or misdirected. One very simple example of overriding one desire for another is that of eating; we have a physical desire to eat, including to eat certain things, but we have all experienced times when we replaced that desire with another, perhaps the desire to have a healthier diet by refraining from eating at times when we might want to. The same choices are available to us as we set aside our desire for isolation or our need to be right, and replace that with a desire for emotional connection and healthy communication in our relationships.
2. What we truly desire is that which we most diligently seek. If our good desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to break free from habits, beliefs, and behaviors that stand in the way of achieving the greater good. If our time and energy are being spent in other pursuits at the expense of that greater good, we can be fairly certain that our desire for that positive dream might not be as strong as we imagine.
3. Good and healthy desires cannot be superficial, impulsive, or temporary. They must come from our heart and be unwavering. This choice to develop such a desire is an intensely personal decision, dependent on nobody else.
4. We will eventually become (or receive) that which we most insistently desire. The universe will not deny us; so we had best select and cultivate those desires carefully.
Just as I had to do those many years ago, you might need to ask yourself the probing question, “What do I truly desire?” Like me, you might answer that one thing you really want is a close, trusting, safe, joyful relationship. That is a good answer, but if you are falling short of that type of marriage, you now get to ask the next question of, “Since I am not currently experiencing the type of marriage I say I want, what do I desire more that might be standing in my way?”
You might discover that what you actually desire more than that ideal relationship is to focus on your career or hobbies; or to spend time in front of the television or computer rather than with your loved one; or you want to be proven right in the latest argument rather than truly seek a win/win.
Many of those desires grow from inconsistencies in us and our life experiences, including what we might have learned in our families of origin. We all know we really do have a strong desire for a great relationship. Keep that desire in the front of your mind, make it a conscious effort to envision what it might look like. Keep that dream shining before you and it will become easier, over time, to change the order of your priorities, to choose your relationship over personal selfishness or fear.
Write this down and put it on your mirror to read everyday:
“Desires dictate our priorities; priorities shape our choices; and our choices determine our actions. Desires we act upon determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.”