The most important question you can ask yourself
‘What do I want?’
There are two ways to answer this question: Consciously or unconsciously.
When you ‘ask’ it unconsciously, the answer bubbles up in the form of what you want right now: the latest gadget, a new car, a higher-paying job, a better body, more sleep, or a vacation.
In this mode you’re only aware of the answer: the thing that can satisfy some craving, or lessen an anxiety.
The answer is not so straightforward when you ask the same question consciously because what you’re really asking is: ‘Do I even know what I want?’
You are probably asking this question because you realised that what you thought you wanted isn’t giving you any joy or fulfillment. You thought you knew your desires, so you acted to fulfill them. But once there, you felt no different than before.
Most people don’t ask this question because deep in their gut they already know the answer. They might not be able to articulate that answer but they know the shape of it. Facing up to that answer is scary because we might realise that our life choices have only taken us farther away from it.
That is why we don’t question ourselves and keep coasting.
But if we can go past the emotional upheaval this question causes we might still find salvation. This simple question, when asked in earnest, is like an excavator for your soul. When you strip away your surface desires, you begin to see what author Luke Burgis calls ‘thick desires’.
Thick desires are ones you are happy to pursue for their own sake, because they fulfill you like no material object or possession can. They can’t be faked, because they are a direct line to the deepest part of you.
Thick desires are reminders of what we value most, while the more mundane desires are what we think other people value in us.
A thick desire is not about getting rich, but becoming free. It’s not about getting more followers on social media, but giving expression to your creativity. It’s not about buying the best for your loved ones, but giving them more of yourself.
Ultimately, it’s about coming back to who you always were.
So, what do you really want?