The Strongest Desire Always Wins

The Strongest Desire Always Wins

Yesterday was a day like any other.  I met with clients and helped them resolve their issues, did some invoicing and then went for my evening jog.  I was a little tired, but made myself change my clothes, grab my iPod and head out the door.

About halfway through the jog I started thinking about my recent dedication to some key areas of my life.  I’ve completely dropped desserts, started getting up at 4:30am to work on my blog and almost never miss a day of exercise.  Why is this?  What changed?  It wasn’t too long ago that I drudged through my work day and only attempted to squeeze in a jog or bike ride once or twice a week.  The thought of getting up before 7am was something I never even considered.

By now my jog is almost over and I almost let the thought go unfinished.  But as I started heading up the last big hill and was really feeling the burn, it hit me.  What changed was the strength of my resolve. My desire to be successful, live healthy and make the most out of every day had suddenly become stronger than the rest.  When a temptation to give in came my way, it was suddenly weaker than my drive to hold true to my current heading.  At this point it all become very clear.

You know how they always say, “You can’t just stop doing one thing without replacing it with another”?  This is because we are always being pulled in a particular direction.  Our minds are never neutral, but always seeking something.  It is that ‘something’ with the strongest pull that your mind will be drawn to.  So, for example, if you ‘just can’t quit smoking’, it’s not a matter of can or can’t, but what is of greater value to you in your mind.  If you can’t quit, it’s because there’s nothing in your mind that is stronger than your desire to smoke.  Find a stronger desire and defeat the habit.  But how do you find a stronger desire?

The Strongest Desire – A Personal Example

Let me give you an example out of my one life.  I am hypoglycemic which basically means I am very sensitive to sugar and other simple carbohydrates.  If I have too many simple carbs I get a spike in blood sugar.  This gives me a quick burst of energy, but is always followed by a crash of some kind.  My blood sugar drops way below normal and I start getting tired, cranky and, if left too long, I will get dizzy, nauseous and eventually pass out.

This has forced me to stick to a strict diet that helps me maintain an even level of blood sugar.  But, like everyone else, I love desserts!  So I’ve always tried to find ways of eating sweats without too much of the negative affects.  Sometimes I am somewhat successful but it eventually catches up to me.  So for some, eating a dessert is no big deal.  For me, though, it had become a ‘bad habit’ that was negatively affecting my life.

My tactics for dealing with the issue in the past was to just only eat sweets on occasion.  And when I did, I tried to keep it to a minimum.  But for me, this was like ‘only having a couple of cigarettes a week.’  In other words, if it has a negative affect on my life, doing it ‘just a little’, is still negative.  Looking back on this scenario I realized that I never had anything in my mind that was stronger, in those few moments of the day, than my desire to eat sweets.  Sure, I might have gotten up enough ‘will power’ to defeat it once in a while, but my sweet tooth was always the victor in the end.

The problem was that I was looking for a stronger desire in that very moment.  Of course there wasn’t one to be found.  But as I looked closer at the string of events that took place AFTER I ate the dessert, I was able to find what I was looking for.  Let’s go through the events in order.

  1. Eat sweets.
  2. Feel good and have a lot of energy.
  3. Feel tired and sometimes anxious.
  4. Loose all motivation to do anything worthwhile.
  5. Feel like CRAP!
  6. Try to eat something healthy to bring my blood sugar back to a healthy level.
  7. Feel a little better and say “I won’t do that again”.
  8. Eat sweets…

You get the point.  The closer I looked at the negative effects that sugar had on me and the long string of events that occurred afterward, I was able to start strengthening my resolve to not eat ANY desserts, period.  Like I said, a little bit of negative never results in any sort of positive.  I started to see how this eating pattern was taking me on an emotional roller coaster that was keeping me from living the healthy, happy life that I desired.  I started to see all the time I wasted trying to ‘just have a little dessert’.

So now, when I am offered a dessert, I confidently say ‘no thank you’.  Because now, when I think of eating sweets, all I can see are the negative results that would follow.  And THIS is much stronger than a brief moment of desire.

Photo by JuJuly25

Eric Hamm

Eric Hamm writes about personal growth at his blog Motivate Thyself.

Latest posts by Eric Hamm (see all)

21 Comments

  1. Thanks for the article Eric. It caught my attention because while I’m not hypoglycemic, I do find sugar disrupts my sleep (I wrote about this
    here). I also happen to have a sweet tooth, so it has been has been important for me to train myself to not eat sugary foods and drinks in the afternoon and evening.

    Recently I have been listening to “Awaken the Giant Within” by Anthony Robins. He talks about how people are essentially driven by either pain or pleasure, and how if we want to change our lives it is important to become aware of these driving forces. It seems to me that you have successfully attached pain to sweets, and this has allowed you to stop eating them.

    Of course eating sweets is just one example of this pain/ pleasure principle. Other activities that it may be worth attaching pain to (depending on the individual of course) are smoking, drinking alcohol, procrastination, laziness, etc…..

    Reply
  2. @Peter: “Of course eating sweets is just one example of this pain/ pleasure principle. Other activities that it may be worth attaching pain to (depending on the individual of course) are smoking, drinking alcohol, procrastination, laziness, etc…..”

    I completely agree. My intentions in writing this post were not to show how you can stop eating sweets as much as how it is possible to overcome bad habits that are getting in the way of our positive growth in life.

    I appreciate the opportunity to share these thoughts with you and your readers. Eric.

    Reply
  3. I loved this article! It was if you were talking to me. I have been dealing with something similar and your article helped me to see what I already knew.

    Thank you,
    Jennifer

    Reply
  4. Great points, Eric. There is not enough focus on the positive and negative impacts of desire, what it is, and how we should use it or avoid it for our potential…

    “Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.” ~ Epictetus

    The Financial Philosophers last blog post..Stocks & Storms, Humans & Hurricanes

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  5. Good article. There’s always more than one reason to do something – or not to do it.

    I used to love smoking. I knew it wasn’t good for my health – but I really didn’t have a desire to quit. My husbadn often talked about quiting – but I was reluctant.

    A nd then my husband became very ill. He was told if he didn’t quit, that he would lose limbs and possibly his life. My desire changed. I wanted my husband MORE than I want the cigarettes, and I quit without much effort.

    Reply
  6. Good Job Eric,

    You successfully linked pain to an unproductive area of your life and attached pleasure to a productive one. Taking action reinforced your resolve and now the benefits help you stay motivated.

    Trying to override emotionals with logic seldom works. Sooner or later the emotions win and we fall into the same old pattern. Changing the emotional anchor, as you did, puts logic and feelings on the same team.

    Congratulations!

    Jonathan – Advanced Life Skillss last blog post..YOU Can Change it ALL

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  7. @Jennifer: I’m glad you really connected with it.

    @Financial Philosopher: That’s a great quote. “Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.”

    @Overcoming Lifes Obstacles: Great example! Before your husbands health issues came about, the basic pleasure of smoking a cigarette was a stronger desire to you than your desire to be healthy. It wasn’t your husbands situation that suddenly made your health a more important issue, but it was your REALIZATION of it’s importance that made the difference.

    @Johathan: “Changing the emotional anchor, as you did, puts logic and feelings on the same team.”

    That’s a great way of putting it!

    “Motivate Thyself”s last blog post..10 Reasons Why Community Is Essential To Our Success And Well Being

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  8. Very inspirational post. I find that I’m much like you were in the beginning. Right now I’m just full of exscuses as to why I shouldn’t get moving with positive change. Granted with a new child life has become much more dynamic and challenging. I find it’s important to use the small moments of down time I do have to do something positive and worthwhile. I need to desire more than just watching tv. The real trick is identifying what a stronger desire is and focusing in on it. It’s far to easy to get distracted.

    Reply
  9. I cured myself of a sweet tooth years ago. It was hard to do, but I agree, well worth the effort. Now I automatically choose foods by how I’ll feel later. That’s a powerful choice.

    Jean Browman–Cheerful Monks last blog post..Making Hay While the Sun Shines

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  10. @Jean Browman: “Now I automatically choose foods by how I’ll feel later.” I always have a hard time explaining this to people. I will be at a get together and someone will say something like, “Doesn’t a nice hot fudge sunday sound great right now?” I then try to explain that, though it would taste good, it is unappealing to me because of how I would feel afterward. That’s about when they turn and start talking to someone else. :-)

    “Motivate Thyself”s last blog post..21 Simple Pleasures You Can Enjoy In A Moment’s Notice

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  11. @Neil: “Right now I’m just full of excuses as to why I shouldn’t get moving with positive change.”

    I find that the excuses fade once you start making real progress. Once you get a taste of some real positive changes, you start to associate an excuse with a negative feeling as well. You realize that it is doing nothing but harm you and those around you and that you are the only one that can stop making them. No one is going to do it for you.

    Once you realize this, at least for me, you start to feel the burden of responsibility that goes along with making wise choices regarding your habits and routines. Plopping down in front of the tube for a couple of hours starts to really leave a bad taste in your mouth. Before too long this habit become less enticing and you are able to push past it and start filling your time with more productive/satisfying activities.

    In regards to a young child making things more complicates. All I can say is that this is a challenge that man kind has been struggling with since the dawn of time. :-)

    “Motivate Thyself”s last blog post..21 Simple Pleasures You Can Enjoy In A Moment’s Notice

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  12. When I read this article, I immediately felt a sense of connection not because I crave sweets so much but I was able to relate your experience where you once didn’t feel motivated to workout, felt sluggish and not feeling all that great overall until suddenly something changed and then you went the opposite direction. I can very much relate to that.

    That happened to be about a year ago and suddenly I was eating better, working out vigorously and lost 20 lbs. I felt GREAT. Then I fell off the wagon and got careless with eating, stopped going to the gym. The weight went right back up and stayed that way for about a year.

    I’m not sure what it was – maybe looking at myself in the mirror and not liking what I saw or whatever it was, something clicked in my head – yet again. I made a firm decision, backed up by strong desire, to start again but make it realistic, fun and engaging.

    I decided to do something I never did before and that was to conduct at 30 day experiment with different eating lifestyles and then reporting myself to my subscribers (to hold me accountable).

    First it started with the “Tim Ferris Diet.” I just finished the 30 day experiment earlier this week. While it was extremely heavy on the protein side and didn’t have much effect on my weight loss, it motivated me to go back to the gym at least 3 times a week. It also gave me great energy. I see this experiment as a precursor to the next 30 day experiment, that of the raw food/living food experiment.

    The moment I started that, I was shocked at the even quicker results in every area of my life from this. I made a strong financial commitment by buying a top of the line blender (VitaMix), which sent a powerful signal to my subsconscious that my desire for better health, less weight, etc. was greater than ever.

    Nowadays I can’t wait to go the gym – strange!

    I don’t want to ramble and ramble and ramble. But your post struck something within me. All it takes is a firm decision to go in one direction and then stick with it. Make it fun – don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up, etc.

    BTW I don’t know if you’re aware of this but the CommentLuv plug-in will eventually clog up your WP database to the point of slowing things down considerably. It’s a nice gesture to your subscribers who have blogs but your WP tables are being clogged by useless codes to make this work. Just FYI.

    Stephen Hopsons last blog post..How I Will NOT Lose 20 lbs. in 30 Days: Follow Up Week #4

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  13. @Stephen Hopson: I’m glad my post struck a cord with you. It’s always encouraging to hear about people making the decision to move in a positive direction and really sticking with it. You mentioned the fact that now you actually LOOK FORWARD to going to the gym. Something that used to be a chore is now a treat. I’ve felt the same way about running and biking and eating healthy over the years.

    I think that once you truly experience (taste) a healthy lifestyle and see the positive results, it makes it that much harder to turn back to you unhealthy ways. And even when you do ‘slip’ you will most certainly return at some point with an even stronger resolve.

    It’s good to hear that you are sharing this with your readers and I am sure they are being equally encouraged.

    “Motivate Thyself”s last blog post..21 Simple Pleasures You Can Enjoy In A Moment’s Notice

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  14. *sigh*

    Like many people these days, I also have food issues – greasy foods, sweet foods and yeasty foods. This past weekend we were out of town and celebrating a town’s fiestas. This meant beer, greasy food and sweets for breakfast (in typical Spanish style). By Saturday night I had such bad acid indigestion I thought I was going to throw up. I knew what I’d done and had even been aware of it at the time, but I wanted to experience the fiesta fully which meant suffering later for it.

    It just all tasted so good!

    I figure as long as I do this sort of thing only occasionally I’ll be fine, but the problem is the desire for the tasty-in-the-moment too often overwhelms the better-for-me-in-the-long-run desire.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Life’s Not Fair – Get Over It

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  15. I love sweets — but I always try to eat them in moderation, if ever. Not because they make me feel like crap but because they always seem to have a bigger impact on my waistline!

    Jennas last blog post..Prescription Drug May Cause T.B.

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  16. This is such a powerful concept. It’s definitely the strength of our resolve that makes the difference.

    The universe just does not respond well to weak, casual wishes.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  17. @Alex: You and I sound very alike. I love food and the things you described are right up my alley. But over time I have gained such a strong desire to feel as good as I posibly can as much as I possibly can that I usually just steer clear of these tasty temptations. But I think you’re right that as long as you are mostly eating healthy you should be OK. I just like feeling good all the time and not most of the time. Sometimes it just takes a weekend of indulging to remind us why we eat healthy the rest of the time.

    @Flora Morris Brown: Glad you enjoyed and benefited from it. :-)

    “Motivate Thyself”s last blog post..21 Simple Pleasures You Can Enjoy In A Moment’s Notice

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  18. To me, motivation is such a complex subject. There are lots of reasons that push or motivate people to take action. Love, anger, joy, bitterness – the best kind of motivation I feel is when you’re motivated solely for the purpose of bettering your life, or doing good for yourself and for others.

    Thanks for this post! Keep bettering your life!

    Julie Newmans last blog post..Odesk.com: Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Give it a Try

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  19. @Julie: “the best kind of motivation I feel is when you’re motivated solely for the purpose of bettering your life, or doing good for yourself and for others.”

    Well said. And it is this kind of motivation that feeds on itself. You can build off of it because the actions you are taking give positive results.

    “Motivate Thyself”s last blog post..Your Dreams Are Only As Atainable As Your Resolve Is Unshakable

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  20. Thank you so much for your outlook, I totally concur with you. It is great to see a fresh outlook on this and I appear forward to a lot more.

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  21. nice article Eric . i shall add an motivational story to the valuable comments given above. once a man went to Aristotle and told him that he always failed whatever he tried to do. he asked 4 the secret to success. Aristotle took him to a nearby river and dipped his mouth in water. after a minute when that man felt suffocating he threw the Aristotle away and came out of river he was very much annoyed.Aristotle asked that what was he thinking when he pushed him away with full power. man replied i had a strong wish to breath once in open air. Aristotle smiled and said “in order to get success u should have such forceful desire then no one can stop you of being successful.”
    JAN SHER KHAN our national hero (won squash world tital seven times consecutively for Pakistan)tells that i had the strongest desire to won the world cup. i saw myself with trophy more than 1000 times in dream then i won my first world cup.

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