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IN THIS EPISODE OF BULLETPROOF RADIO...
Do you know why you make choices that are bad for you? Or why you end up with burnout, bad diets and other things that cause you harm, when you know you’d be better off choosing something else?
This episode cuts through the noise, everything you’re sold and told to want, and helps you answer those very questions.
Luke Burgis researched and studied the theory that underlies your tendency to follow other peoples’ wants, called mimetic desire. Explored by prominent French thinker René Girard, mimetic theory of desire says humans don’t want anything autonomously and independently.
“Girard discovered that we come to desire certain things not through biological drives or pure reason, nor as the longing of our deepest, most authentic selves, but through imitation,” Luke says in his book, “Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life.” Desire, as Girard used the word, does not mean the drive for food or sex or shelter or security. But after meeting those needs, we enter the domain of desire. And knowing what to want is much harder than knowing what to need.”
In studying the work of Gerard, Luke realized that his goals and dreams were a product of other people’s expectations of him and he was actually following the desire of what he was seeing in others (that’s why he was miserable, burnt out, in poor physical health and felt horrible).
“The truth is that desires are derivative, contagious, and therefore competitive, and that’s why they often lead to conflict,” Luke explains. “The lie is that I want things entirely on my own, uninfluenced by others. By rejecting the truth, I deny the consequences of my desires on other people, and theirs on me.”
Luke and I dive into how to get past the innate desires of success and wealth that most of us are taught to value and really move into your own individual dreams and self-desires.
“Mimetic desire exists on a spectrum,” he says. “And that there are some things that can't be explained medically at all. Something beautiful like a sunset, or like a beautiful woman that I'm attracted to. There are very clear scientific sort of physiological things going on there. So, let's make a distinction. Mimetic desire exists on a spectrum where those hardwired physiological things like thirst and hunger, those have been met, right? And we're sort of now in a more abstract world.”
Armed with this knowledge, you can make better choices about who you trust and build self-awareness around your choices to empower your own life. You can find holistic models that work for you in all areas of your life (not just at your job), and why those models are important to find sooner rather than later.
“The constant looking to what other people are doing or saying or wanting, or achieving, is just the fastest way to be miserable for one thing, but also the fastest way to miss opportunities, because we're just constantly looking to our right and our left rather than forward or up,” Luke says.
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