Felix Dennis on Mistaking Desire for Compulsion

  • Wishing for or desiring something is futile without an inner compulsion to achieve it. Such lack of compulsion, if not frankly acknowledged, can lead to great personal unhappiness. We have all met deeply unhappy souls muddling along in professions or careers for which they are patently unsuited.
  • Worse still, by continually wishing and never delivering, you risk denting your confidence, beginning a vicious downward spiral that appears to draw misfortune like a magnet. The assumption that you might be able to achieve some goal if you only wish hard enough is not just a f***-up. It’s a potential personal tragedy.
  • Consider very carefully whether you are truly driven by inner demons to be rich. If you are not, then my earnest and heartfelt advice to you is: do not on any account make the attempt. What are riches anyway, compared to health or the peace of mind that even a modicum of contentment brings in its wake? In and of itself,great wealth very rarely, if ever, breeds contentment.
  • But no condescension is intended whatever when I ask you to quietly turn over in your mind whether or not you are fit to be rich. Whether the sacrifices involved — not only your own, but those you will ask of your family, present or future — are worth the tyranny that such ambition, by its very nature, exacts.
  • ‘Better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all,’ drones the old saw. But in this instance, the cliche is wrong, utterly wrong. Better to have chosen a different life, a quite different path, than have placed yourself and those you love in harm’s way when early reflection and thought could have advised you differently. I repeat: do not mistake desire for compulsion. Those that do nearly always fail, at great cost to themselves and those around them.
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