How to Free Yourself from Your Constant Desires


“Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants.” ~Epictetus

I surely can’t be the only one tired of constantly wanting things. By things, I mean a new job, a nice car, new clothes, a new home, perhaps even a partner, more friends, more money, or better holidays in more luxurious locations.

It feels like we are forever stuck in a cycle of seeking the next bigger or better thing. Once we have achieved one goal, yup, you guessed it, here comes another, even bigger goal that will probably be harder to reach than the last one.

It seems that we always want more; nothing is ever enough.

At one point I felt like I had truly gotten lost in trying to keep up with expectations from society, my peers, my colleagues, and even strangers!

I was fed up with not getting what I wanted when I felt I needed it, and with getting what I wanted but only enjoying it for a short time before I wanted the next big thing!

When does it end? When do we pass over to the other side? When do we reach enlightenment?

I was tired of constantly chasing things. It was exhausting, and I didn’t have the energy for it.

I wanted to afford to live on my own instead of having to house-share or live with family. I wanted a partner who would be true to me. I wanted my side hustle to earn me enough to do it full time. I wanted holidays multiple times a year.

I was eventually offered a flat viewing for an affordable housing scheme. These were few and far between, so I was lucky to be offered one. I thought that this would be my chance to meet my goal of living alone.

If I got the flat, I could tick it off my list! I would be halfway there to the ‘perfect’ life I had envisioned for myself.

Sadly, I wasn’t offered the flat for reasons unbeknown to me, but being rejected for it certainly put things into perspective for me.

To my surprise, I was not in the slightest bit angry, upset, or disappointed!

I sat and asked myself what it would have changed if I had gotten it. I would have been happy in the flat for a short period, but it wouldn’t have been long before I was itching to live in a house, somewhere bigger or in a better area.

I concluded that it wasn’t life handing me the shit stick; it was me. I was the problem! I always wanted more, I didn’t appreciate what I already had, and I was always looking to the future when things would be “better.”

I sat and wondered what it would feel like to just be, to not want anything, to take everything as it comes without judgment or fear of where I’d end up if I didn’t meet my goals.

Call it a spiritual awakening or an epiphany that there had to be more to life than constantly chasing things I desire.

Annoyed and frustrated with myself, I turned to a search engine for answers. “Is it possible to live without desire?” I typed into Google.

I was met with many articles that provided helpful information.

I have discovered, through books, meditation, online information, and reflection on my own experiences, that desire isn’t necessarily bad.

Issues arise when we chase desires because we feel they are necessary for our well-being and happiness, and we rely on them for fulfilment. The problem is that when we do not get the things we want, it leads to disappointment and misery.

That was certainly my issue. I had become fixated on looking for things outside of myself to bring me peace, joy, happiness, and fulfilment, and they never did, or at least not for a significant period of time.

We Desire More Because We’re Chasing Happiness

We chase external things because we are ultimately chasing happiness; we think these things will make us feel good, happy, and content. When we acquire them, they usually do; the issue is that the feeling of happiness never really lasts. Usually, it’s not long before we want something else.

I discovered that as long as you believe there is something outside of yourself that can bring you happiness, you will never truly be happy because it starts within.

Our Desire is Linked to a Feeling of Lack

We want things because we think we lack something, even when all our needs are met, but if we constantly feel there is never enough, we will wind up creating more of that feeling.

This is the basis of the law of attraction—like attracts like. What you focus your energy on, you receive more of.

I realized that I needed to make changes in my life, slow down, refocus, and tame my constant need to obtain things. To do this, I had to look within to connect with who I really was—a spiritual being to whom materialism and what I have (and do not have) do not matter!

In order to tame my constant striving for more and find happiness within, I implemented the following.

Temper your expectations.

We have to understand that the world doesn’t owe us a thing, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop pursuing the things we want. We should just refrain from expecting everything to turn out the way we hope they will.

If we get what we want, that’s great; if we don’t, we didn’t have our hopes pinned on it anyway, so it’s also okay!

When you have fewer expectations, less can disappoint you, and if you do feel disappointed about something, you will recover and be able to bounce back quickly.

Accept where you are in life.

Acceptance will free you from the victim mentality that keeps you focused on what you lack. Once again, this doesn’t mean you can’t strive to improve your situation. It just means you’ll get out of the judging mind that fixates on how unfair life is, enabling you to enjoy the things you do have and more effectively work to change the things that aren’t working for you.

Surrender to life.

Loosen your grip on your life and stop trying to swim against the tide.

Often, we get so caught up trying to control everything and make everything work in our favor that we cause more harm than good, usually to ourselves.

Trust that things could work out even better than you knew to imagine if you let go a little, and when you face adversity, remember it will pass, because nothing lasts forever.

When you do have goals you want to achieve, try to enjoy the process of getting where you want to be instead of focusing on the end result. Things usually fall into place when we relax and let go of outcomes.

Practice being more present.

By constantly chasing our desires, we can end up living in the future and not here in the present moment, which means we can’t appreciate what’s right in front of us.

The only matter that truly matters is that of now because yesterday is dead and tomorrow has not happened yet.

I found that being present reduced my anxiety and worries about the future, because I made a conscious effort to only focus on the now.

Practice gratitude.

When we appreciate everything we have, we tend to focus less on what we do not have.

Gratitude is linked to greater well-being and overall happiness, and it’s also effective in reducing stress and anxiety.

What helps me is to take a little time at night to find something from the day I appreciated. It doesn’t have to be something big; it can be a colleague helping me with a task at work or a stranger holding the door open for me.

Upon reflection, I personally think that it is okay to live with desire. We are human, and living from a desire-less state would be extremely difficult—even wanting to live without desires is a desire itself!

It’s natural to want to eat tasty dinners, to look nice when we go out, and to be able to treat ourselves for our hard work. While these wants may be minor, they are still desires.

Some would even argue that if we did not have any desires, our lives would have no meaning or purpose, and we wouldn’t be motivated to do anything.

But constantly chasing external things and relying on them for happiness and fulfilment is an unhealthy way to live, leading to stress, worry, fear, and even depression.

The alternative is to appreciate all the goodness we have in our lives and understand that happiness cannot be measured by the things that we have, or found by constantly looking outside of ourselves; if they could, then those that could afford to have everything they ever wanted would be the happiest people in the world, and this just isn’t the case!

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