In determining our ideal lives, a measure of honesty and clear thinking is required. If I desire to do well at school so as to get a prestigious job, my true desire here is not so much to do well at school, but to get a prestigious job. The avenue I have chosen to pursue that desire just so happens to be through good grades at school.
"eyes filled with dreams" by Nisha A
This can be taken a step further, if we imagine my reasons for wanting a prestigious job. Is it to earn money? Or impress people? Is it to earn money, so that I may settle my ailing aunt into the most comfortable nursing home I can afford? My desire now is not that I do well in school, but that my aunt is happy and comfortable.
"Lavender Dreams" by Bhumika Bhatia
By being clear about the reasons behind our desires we are less restricted in our options for attaining them. Philosopher and writer Seneca advises that in order to choose what to do ‘we must take a careful look first at ourselves, then at the activities we will be attempting, and then at those for whose sake and with whom we are attempting them.’
It is important here not to get caught in a long regression of desires which brings us back to a basic but non-pragmatic statement such as ‘my desire is for happiness.’ While it is valuable to recognise multiple paths to the same goal, some or other of these will be more appealing to us, and should thus be given more credence.
We ought to ask ourselves not only “what do I want?” but “why do I want this?” by being more honest with ourselves we may form a clearer picture of what we desire, and therefore build a happier life.