The Problem With Wanting Things


Hey friends,

Greetings from Miami, where I’m on a flying visit for a 3-day Leveling Up Founders Mastermind meeting, hosted by Eric Siu.

This is my first time in the US, and Miami is very pristine – not a sprawling metropolis like London.

Anyway, on the flight over I re-read Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire by Luke Burgis. It’s based on René Girard’s theory of ‘mimetic desire’, the idea that we often want things just because other people have those things.

See lots of other people using AirPods? Suddenly you want a pair. Friends all getting married? Marriage seems more appealing.

Same goes for all sorts of situations: colleagues going on adventure holidays, acquaintances learning to code, the neighbours buying a fancy BBQ…

See enough people doing something, and you’ll feel like doing it as well.

Immediate acquaintances have a particularly big influence, because they’re your closest point of comparison. You don’t get jealous of The Rock for having a big mansion or rippling biceps – but if it’s your best friend making millions and getting shredded, you might feel differently.

This got me thinking about my wariness of business conferences (much like the one I’m currently at 😂)

When I’m around entrepreneurs in the $10 million+ range, it makes me “want” that too. In that moment, as I’m standing in a conference room talking to Steven Bartlett or Neil Patel, being a super-rich businessperson with a huge business and huge team seems really cool.

So I leave the conference fired up with lots of business ideas. But after a few days that feeling fades, and I realise it was probably mimetic desire.

So, how do we figure out what we really want?

Luke uses the concept of ‘thick’ versus ‘thin’ desires. Thick desires are things you want on a deep level. Stuff that makes you feel happy or fulfilled once you have it or are doing it. Thin desires are usually mimetic – stuff you only think you want because you see that other people have it.

He recommends asking: “What’s a time in my life when I took action, and it made me feel genuinely fulfilled?” This brings out the ‘thick’ desires, things that we genuinely value.

For me, what immediately comes to mind is the Cambridge University hospital pantomime that us medical students took part in. There was so much camaraderie, and performing on stage every night with a bunch of friends made me feel that ‘yes, life is good’.

Other things that meet that description for me:

  • Working with a small team to create videos (that I’m proud of)
  • Teaching people
  • Reading (and hopefully writing) amazing books
  • Spending time with friends + family

Try thinking about your own thick / thin desires – you might surprise yourself.

Have a great week!

Ali xx

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♥️ My Favourite Things

🗞️ Creator Newsletter – The Publish Press I love this newsletter by YouTube experts Colin and Samir. They curate and analyse the most important stories from the creator economy, x3 per week. I’ve been a big fan of their work for a while now 😊

🎙️ Deep Dive Episode – Life Coach: Why Your Energy Drives Your Success In Life – Simon Alexander Ong. We discussed the power of coaching, and Simon broke down several coaching session frameworks that you can apply to your own life.

🎵 Music – Jamming Sesh. My last jam with Taimur went down well on Insta. So we decided to do it again, this time covering The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel. Music isn’t one of my main goals for the year, but it’s still fun to dabble with.

🪄 Video Game – Hogwarts Legacy. I’ve been obsessing over all the YouTube coverage of Hogwarts Legacy. It’s a game where you get to play as a young witch/wizard roaming around the halls and grounds of Hogwarts during the 1800’s – looks sick. Just downloaded it on Steam – I’ll report back when I’ve had a chance to play

🏋️ Exercise – Pre-Lunch Workouts. I’ve recently started working out just before lunch. It’s going well so far – I never have do lift weights on a full stomach, and 11.30-12.30 workouts feel like a good chance to ‘reset’ the day.

🎬 My New Videos

🚀 If I Started a YouTube Channel in 2023, I’d Do This. YouTube is hard, but over the years I’ve learnt a few things about how to grow a successful channel. Here’s what I’d do if I wanted to start a YouTube channel today.

📖 Is the Kindle Scribe Worth It? There’s a new e-reader in town, the Kindle Scribe, and it lets you take notes on screen with a pen. So of course, I had to review it.

✍️ Quote of the Week

When your thinking is contaminated by negative emotions, make as few decisions and engage in as few interactions as possible. This keeps these emotions from spilling over into your life.

From The Relationship Handbook by George Pransky. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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