How Strong Is Your Desire?

If there is one thing I have learned more about at school this quarter, it’s desire. I don’t mean desire in the traditional sense, but desire as the basis of all human emotions. You can take a step back and look at all of your decisions and realize that it is desire that either drives you to complete your goals, or keeps you from accomplishing them.

You may say that it isn’t desire, it’s willpower that keeps you on your path to success, but I would have to disagree. So would Wendy Farley, a world renowned philosopher and theologian. She says that willpower is weak against the force of desire, and that only a stronger desire can replace another desire. Put simply, this means that if you are someone who has trouble sticking to a strength program or restrictive diet, it’s not that you don’t have the willpower, you don’t have the desire. Your desire to get stronger or lose weight has to be greater than your desire to go drinking every night and sleep in until noon every day.

Like I have written about before, willpower can’t stand up to the force of desire. I may not feel like writing a blog article every day, but my desire to have a successful site is stronger than my desire to be lazy (and THAT desire can get really strong).

Another interesting facet of desire is that it’s a flame that will never be extinguished, it is just human nature. This is why when you finally reach that 6 months goal of a 2.5x bodyweight squat, you aren’t satisfied with it. You just set another goal. You are programmed to desire, whether its knowledge, material wealth,or a big TOTAL score; it doesn’t matter. Whether you are the world’s strongest man or a Tibetan monk high up in the mountains, you are being driven by desire for something more.

Realizing that desire is at the root of all your actions is important for athletes as they set their goals. Some athletes may feel sadness when they reach their goals because it didn’t bring the complete happiness that they thought it would, it simply made a stronger desire. That feeling can be described as a fear that there is nothing better than that moment of success and a fear that there won’t be another moment like it in the future. It is important to remember that a healthy desire is one that does not undermine ethical relationships between human beings.

Keeping your desire strong and rooted in the path to success will help you to achieve great things, just remember that when you get to the top, you will still be searching for a higher mountain to climb.


Wendy Farley, The wounding and healing of desire (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2005

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