Our Desires Are Universal and Unique

24 Aug 2016

For long, I have been puzzled by what I really want. Sometimes it seems to me that the answer is fairly straightforward, but other times I just feel like what I want is imposed by others. The fact is that we share many similar desires with other humankind while the different combinations of them make each individual have unique set of desires. If our desires are squared like boxes, each of the box has different shapes, size and color combinations to make it different from each other.

The universal human desires and values have been concluded by many researchers. Maslow’ classic theory of hierarchy of needs deems fundamental human motivations as “physiological”, “safety”, “love and belonging”, “esteem” and “self-actualization”. Individual would long for higher level of needs if lower level of needs have been satisfied. Researchers at Ohio State University also summarized 15 fundamental human desires ranging from “food”, “physical exercise”, social desires such as “fear of social rejection”, “social contact”,”social prestige” to “power to influence people”, “independence to make decisions”. All of these desires can be traced to human genetics.

However, each individual’s dominant desires among above vary. Different personalities would make certain desires more appealing to certain people while other desires not. For instance, people who are more independent-minded place less weight on social desires than people who enjoy being around people. Also, which life stage we are in would shape our current desires. For example, in early stage of life, when people are still struggling for life stability and seeking for life partners, they desire more safety and love. In later stage, their dominant desires may be switched to respect from others and to realize their dreams.

One important thing to know about our desires is that they are not static but evolving along the time. Our past desires lead us to where we are and our current desires takes us to the future. Therefore, we need to be constantly true to ourselves, reevaluate and synchronize with our current desires and behave accordingly.