Leadership, EQ and Enhanced C-IQ Coach

What Do We Want

In an earlier article titled ‘Nature of Change’ I had quoted Dr. Norman Doidge that “the brain changes itself” and said ‘so why not change it the way we want’. The central question then is ‘What do we want?” I find this the main problem with many people and till recent years with myself. Very few are clear in what they want. Their confusion is compounded by what others, in their life, want. Hence, the question “What do I really want”? becomes the key not only to change but to happiness.

Dr. Steven Reiss has, after extensive research, distilled all human wants to sixteen basic desires. This seminal work turned on its head the Freudian theory and its variants that pleasure and pain is every thing. I do not want to list the sixteen basic desires here. You may read his book “Who Am I?”. What is important to note that these desires are universal and cut across countries, cultures, communities, cults, everything. They are primordial in their origin and have different evolutionary history. And, they are totally independent of each other. One word of caution to the more curious that the names given to each desire should not be taken in their strict dictionary meaning. The name is so selected, for want of better, as to include many similar wants. Let us the take the desire “Acceptance”. This includes, desires like to be included, approved, acknowledged, to belong etc. Interestingly this is an overarching desire. Dr. Reiss goes on to say that ‘ what we want is what we value and what we value is what we want’. All other values are what society wants us to value. These desires, wants or values make us strive to satisfy them hence, there is a drive in them, they motivate us. These motivations are our ‘end’ motivations and distinguished from ‘mean’ motivations. Mean motivations are as their name suggests are means to the end motivations.

Research tells us that emotions and feelings have energy in them to drive us. To conclude that each of these basic desires has an emotion attached to it would not be amiss. The intensity of an emotions is an answer to our needs.

Knowing and understanding all these, wants, values, desires, emotions, and their intensities therefore become important when we want to make a change we want.

So the question is how do we find out what and how much we want. Reiss Motivational Profile and some other online tests are available on the internet. The result of any on these can be a starting point to discover what we want. This will, to a large extent, unravel the mystery of why we behave in a certain way and why not in another. Satisfying our desires gives us value based happiness and not just transitory pleasure. This joy can be recalled later. We need to find ways to satisfy more than one desire, whenever possible, to be more effective with ourselves.

It is not that all of us have all the sixteen desires and even those that we have vary in their intensity. Some we may have in the negative, meaning we strive to avoid the desire and this avoidance can vary in its intensity too. In this way we differ from each other.

As these basic motivations are attached to what we want they are intrinsic as opposed to being extrinsic. This leads us to a very important subject dealt by Daniel Pink in his book titled Drive.

The passion in life or what we love to do, that we all are searching for, to give a meaning to our lives, can be found in our desires, our values, our intrinsic motivations.

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