How To Work Out What You Want To Want From Life | Kyle Eschenroeder on Modern Wisdom

Check out the Modern Wisdom Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t create a life that pleases others, create a life that you enjoy
    • “I think our default desires so often push us towards trying to create a life that is a spectacle, something that looks great to others but itself feels kind of empty” – Kyle Eschenroeder
  • “If we can shape our desires even a little bit, it can create massive, massive, changes in our lives” Kyle Eschenroeder
    • You don’t want to win in life but then find out you’ve been playing the wrong game this whole time
  • When determining your desires, be careful of short-term desires
    • Kyle recites a quote from Naval Ravikant: “The modern devil is cheap dopamine” 
  • Chase impact, not fame
  • Chase a life with meaningful struggle, not an easy life
    • In one study, the people who retired at 55 died significantly earlier than those that retired at 65
  • Viktor Frankl cites three sources for meaning in life:
    • Suffering for a cause you care about
    • Doing significant work
    • Caring for others
  • Fame can be a dangerous drug that makes people do the wrong action because they’re chasing attention
    • “The person who seeks fame is making their happiness largely dependent on the opinions of other people. Those people who have the power to build you up have the same power to tear you down.” Kyle Eschenroeder
  • Desiring Impact > Desiring Attention
    • Let fame be a by-product instead of the priority
  • “The need to be extraordinary put this layer of disrespect on our life as it is” – Kyle Eschenroeder
    • It’s important to take a step back and release our default desire to compare our lives to the Joneses. Instead, do what is exciting and meaningful to you.

Intro

Books Mentioned

  • Kelly McGonigal talks about the benefits of struggle and stress in her book The Upside of Stress
    • Our bodies respond better to stress when we embrace it:
      • “If we allow ourselves to embrace a stressor, our bodies will actually respond differently physically and release different chemicals into our system that will give us healthier, better energy” Kyle Eschenroeder
  • Have a frugal heart and embrace the ordinary; Kyle learned about this idea from the book Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

Reexamine Your Desires

  • In his blog post, What Do You Want To Want?, Kyle advises readers to reexamine their desires and goals
    • Why is it important to reconsider your values and goals? You don’t want to live a life that you regret at the end of it
  • Don’t create a life that pleases others, create a life that you enjoy
    • “I think our default desires so often push us towards trying to create a life that is a spectacle, something that looks great to others but itself feels kind of empty” – Kyle Eschenroeder
      • Before Peter Thiel was a billionaire, he was a successful lawyer but he felt that wasn’t the right path for him so he switched careers and got into tech
        • “If we get stuck in these mimetic or default desires, they disconnect us from our actual ones”
  • “If we can shape our desires even a little bit, it can create massive, massive, changes in our lives” Kyle Eschenroeder
    • You don’t want to win in life but then find out you’ve been playing the wrong game the whole time
      • One corporate executive thought achieving financial success and status would bring lots of purpose to his life but because he was always working he never built a strong relationship with his son
  • When you program your desires, you’re actually programming your life

Deciding Want To Want

  • When determining your desires, be careful of short-term desires
    • Kyle recites a quote from Naval Ravikant: “The modern devil is cheap dopamine” 
  • Look what you shouldn’t want to want first (use the process of inversion)
    • Then look at what you should want to want
      • E.g: If you want to be happy, look at what makes a happy person depressed and do the opposite
  • Chase impact, not fame
  • Chase a life with meaningful struggle, not an easy life
    • In one study, the people who retired at 55 died significantly earlier than those that retired at 65
      • Kelly McGonigal talks about the benefits of struggle and stress in her book The Upside of Stress
        • Our bodies respond better to stress when we embrace it:
          • “If we allow ourselves to embrace a stressor, our bodies will actually respond differently physically and release different chemicals into our system that will give us healthier, better energy” Kyle Eschenroeder
  • Adults who reported having more struggles earlier in life actually had more satisfaction with their lives and a stronger sense of purpose
  • Viktor Frankl cites three sources for meaning in life:
    • Suffering for a cause you care about
    • Doing significant work
    • Caring for others

Fame vs. Impact

  • Fame can be a dangerous drug that makes people do the wrong action because they’re chasing attention
    • Fame also puts our happiness in the hands of others
      • “The person who seeks fame is making their happiness largely dependent on the opinions of other people. Those people who have the power to build you up have the same power to tear you down.” Kyle Eschenroeder
  • Desiring Impact > Desiring Attention
    • Let fame be a by-product instead of the target
      • All fame eventually fades, it isn’t something you want to build yourself upon
        • “Doing something for attention is an incredibly fragile endeavor” – Kyle Eschenroeder
  • Getting attention is a good game to play because you can monetize it, but desiring fame for the sake of being famous is a dangerous game that can lead you to bad places

Wanting Wealth vs. Having A Frugal Heart

  • When people lack connection in their life, they often assume money will help them fill that hole
    • Like fame, wealth is super addicting and it’s easy to think you’ll be happy once you get it
  • Think of money as gasoline on a road trip: It absolutely sucks to run out of it so you have to pay attention to it, but the trip is not about getting gas
    • “You would never plan a trip around going to the gas station” – Kyle Eschenroeder
  • Don’t go into debt by buying things you don’t care about or adding excess stress to your life by chasing more wealth
    • Have a frugal heart; Kyle learned about this idea from the book Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
      • Lower your burn rate (the amount of money you spend each month) and you’ll have more freedom and choices

The Desire To Be Extraordinary

  • A lot of people desire to be special and don’t feel their life is valuable until they become extraordinary
    • “The need to be extraordinary put this layer of disrespect on our life as it is” – Kyle Eschenroeder
      • It’s important to take a step back and release our default desire to compare our lives to the Joneses. Instead, do what is exciting and meaningful to you.
        • E.g: Just because someone ran a marathon faster than you, it doesn’t devalue your own accomplishment
  • This doesn’t mean you have to live an ordinary life
    • Find something that interests you in life and keep following it. That is where some of the most unique and extraordinary creations come from.
  • When you respect yourself as you are, then you can change
    • “I think the shortcut there is to respect your own life. Respect your own struggles.” – Kyle Eschenroeder

Additional Notes

  • “If we don’t pause and ask ourselves what we want to want, we will spend our lives focused on unhealthy aims defined for us by others and the worst parts of ourselves. We will pass these bad assumptions about life onto our children and loved ones. We will reinforce these boring, desperate defaults in everyone we encounter.” – Kyle Eschenroeder
    • “To achieve freedom we must be able to think for ourselves. If we don’t cut to the core and program our wants (our desires) then our best-case scenario is to be the most successful, rich, or famous slave. If we never peer into our programming then we may end up the cleverest rat, but that’s hardly worth celebrating.”
  • Shift your desires towards nourishing and sustainable goals 
  • The things we hate most about others, tend to be the pieces we reject about ourselves
    • Look at people you hate the most and use them as mirrors to find pieces of yourself that you’ve been repressing
  • Take time to explore your true desires, not desires placed upon you by society
  • For a long time, Chris was ashamed of his intellectual curiosity
    • “It’s only upon doing introspective work to find out what my truth was that I’ve been able to embrace now” – Chris Williamson
  • To find your passion, think back to what you loved doing when you were between the ages of 8-14
  • Be so interested in your own life game that you don’t care or spend time focusing on the games other people are playing
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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