Covetousness – Becoming an Elusive Object of Desire August 20, 2023 by Riston As humans, we are hardwired to always desire that which is not currently in our possession. Often, once we attain a desired object or condition, we immediately succumb to the grass-is-always-greener syndrome – a variety of cognitive illusion in which we get what we idealized about, but find it to not have the perfect qualities present in our fantasies of it. We experience this phenomena in almost every aspect of our lives, which manifest in our ideation of some particular point in time, a desired relationship partner, new career, or new place to live. Contentment is a difficult state to maintain, and to some degree this fact can be healthy, but only if we are conscious of its origins. Here are several factors that contribute to this effect: Induction – Our minds are wired to almost always view a negative state that contrasts with what we are currently experiencing (in the sense of gestalt or figure/ground). If we are explicitly forbidden to do something, we almost compulsively begin imagining ourselves doing it. If we commit to something, we are almost always tempted to find ways out of it. Complacency is not an evolutionary virtue – In our earlier epochs as a species, we have regularly abandoned or changed location for a host of good reasons. Indigenous tribes often change locations for hunting once the prey becomes more scarce, often in a temporal cycle of months or years. In the mind there is little difference between thoughts and objective reality – One of our faculties as a species is the capacity for imagination. Anything the we can imagine is experienced almost equally with real world events. This capacity makes us vulnerable to all sorts of bias, as well manipulation by political rhetoric and advertising. These factors can be useful for driving us to attain greater heights, with the caveat that we are aware of the influence they exert on us, and that we control these inclinations rather than being governed by them. Likewise, we can effectively use these to great effect in building personal charisma. Being too open of a book, contrary to the moral convention of the day, doesn’t necessarily promote a sense of authenticity but quickly bores and can elicit an impression of laziness. Being real is important, but that doesn’t imply that one has to throw all their cards on the table for every single person to see at first meet. Strategies for Stimulating Desire Almost all of us are naturally caught up in our own thoughts and fantasies, and tend to project these onto others. Nearly every person we meet is just-another-fucking-<so-and-so>, and the more transparent you are the more that is the case. We believe, somewhat rightly, that we should be appreciated for who we are based solely on our merits, but this is unfortunately not really the case (at least in terms of dealing with larger audiences). We can utilize a few strategies that will influence people’s perception of us in a more useful way, generally in creating some cloak of mystery. Know how and when to withdraw – This is the most essential strategy for implementing this art. Having a ‘therapeutic’ degree of coldness (a slight attitude that others are non-essential), can signal that you are a person of value and worth. Being to open can signal contempt and a lack of respect, as is reflected in the aphorism that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Create a rivalry of desire – It is always best to find subtle ways of making yourself appear desirable. In situations of negotiation, it’s always good to have rival parties vying for your attention, and this applies both in business and in attracting partners. In the latter, you may wish to avoid appearing to be overly promiscuous, but having more people interested in you can make you appear more valuable. Use induction – People often have a secret yearning to engage in the transgressive, illicit, and controversial. We view ourselves as more free compared to previous eras, but we are currently inundated with more regulations and surveillance than at any other time in history. Associating oneself with a flair of the transgressive, the illicit, the new, and the revolutionary carries great appeal. The Supreme Desire As stated above, our proclivity towards the grass-is-always-greener syndrome can have the beneficial effect of motivating us towards personal growth, but only if this restlessness is under our conscious control. Constantly searching for the newest and shiniest gadget, the perfect partner, the perfect job, etc… can drain from us our energy and time – two resources of which we have in limited, finite supply. Instead, our energies and focus should be centered on more deeply experiencing what we already have (this of course doesn’t apply if our car actually needs to be replaced due to repair and maintenance costs, or an abusive partner or a truly exploitative employer). Exercising the judgement necessary to not take the good things in our lives for granted, and to focus on deepening our connection to and appreciation of these assets frees up mental and energetic bandwidth for changing and improving those things that would profit us most by changing and improving. Is your desire to change jobs or date other people from your current partner motivated by real need or neglect from actual circumstances, or is it just the grass-is-always-greener syndrome at work? There may be times you are in a decent job, but moving on to a different arrangement would be better for you in the long run; there may be times where a relationship is functional, but there’s no sense of love or depth in the relationship resulting in a sense of stagnancy where the other party is unwilling to change. Determining the cause for discontent, whether real or based on the grass-is-always-greener syndrome, requires an exercise of judgement and honesty. Cultivating this sense can save one from wasting their entire life chasing after fool’s gold.