Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today my guest is Danielle LaPorte. Danielle is an entrepreneur, a social media sensation, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of The Fire Starter Sessions. With Sounds True, Danielle has created a new book called, The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul. She’s also created a six-session audio learning course that takes you through the Desire Mapping process called Desire Map Experience, as well as an audio program on bringing the Desire Map into everyday of your life, an audio program called The Desire Map Daily.
In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Danielle and I spoke about how we can identify our core desired feelings and create what she calls “goals with soul.” We also talked about looking at the year in review and how it can be helpful to ask what goals we didn’t meet as well as focusing on what happened for which we feel grateful. We also talked about desire in relationship with others and how to navigate when our core desires don’t match.
Here’s my conversation with Danielle LaPorte.
Right here at the beginning, Danielle, I’d love to know more about the genesis, the origins, of the desire mapping process and also how it works, in a nutshell. How does it work? How do I create a Desire Map?
Danielle LaPorte: Genesis—I cannot believe I can say this about anything in my life, but it is actually like a decade in the making. It started on a New Year’s Eve and I wrote out my goals—now I talk about my goals in quotes—my “goals.” They were simple and they’re fine. They’re decent aspirations—paying off the credit card, new dining room table, get to Hawaii for a family wedding. I looked at my poster board of goals and was like, “Meh. I’m so not inspired.”
Actually, worse than not being inspired, those goals actually felt like another to-do list. I did not need—as an entrepreneur and a very new mom—another to-do list. This was a very simple act. I grabbed some markers and started writing—almost as an act of defiance—some what I thought were cooler words across my goals, like abundance, sexy, earth, natural, and flow. I thought, “I can get down with that. That’s way mo’ betta.” Then, I thought nothing of it. That was year one.
Then it just kind of crept into my psyche. Year two, when I sat down to do my goals for the new year, always by the fire on New Year’s Eve, I thought about, “What about those words again?” Then it crept into a Post-It Note that I kept in my Day-Timer for years. I started asking myself, “What am I going to do this year to feel this way?” Then I started asking myself, “What am I going to do this week to feel this way?” Then, I thought, “I’m onto something.” I was changing my—it was helping me loosen my grip around ambition, which I’d love to talk more about.
I was feeling lighter—a sense of lightness. I was feeling way more compassionate about what I was achieving, but more importantly, what I wasn’t achieving. It gave me all this space for self-compassion around that. Then I started talking about it when I was doing speaking gigs. I said, “You know, I’m onto something here with this feeling first instead of your to-do’s, instead of your ambition list.”
People were coming up to me after gigs saying, “Do you have a worksheet for that?” I thought, “We’re onto something.” I could see this struggle, almost like turmoil, for people around the whole concept of goal-setting. By then—that brings us to year eight or nine—it had really seeped into my psyche. I made these really ugly white binders and I created a system. I called these “desired feelings”—your core feelings. I gave it to a few dozen friends and said, “Get back to me and let me know if this works.”
They all had that experience of the grip loosening and a real shift of focus. I don’t bust a move anymore without referencing my decision, my aspiration, towards my core desired feelings.
TS: Let’s just clarify what you mean by that—“core desired feelings.” What are those and how do I know what my core desired feelings are?
DL: Those are your preferred states of being. They’re not the fleeting emotions that you’re going to feel throughout the day. You’re going to feel 900 feelings throughout the day. These are a desired way of feeling and being that have probably been with you for a very long time.
I’ll use myself as an example. My core desired feelings are: I want to feel in communion. I want to feel creation. I want to feel Shakti—the divine feminine. I want to feel abundance. And I want to feel joy.
If I look back on my childhood, if I look back on my 20s, those core desired feelings have been driving me for a long time. I can remember the longing to meet God when I was a little girl—I was a super religious kid—and praying to hawks, fairies, and the Virgin Mary. I just wanted communion. I just wanted communion. That’s been with me for a long time.
These are deep. They’ve been hovering. They’re not fleeting. Do you want me to talk now about how you get them—how you find them?
TS: Sure. Yes. Yes.
DL: It’s deceptively simple in that it’s a simplistic process. It’s simplistic, but you have to go deep to answer the questions. The broad brush version of this [is to] go through every area of your life—and I break this down into categories. You can call these categories whatever you like, because it has to resonate for you.
I break it down into relationships and society. That’s like your [loving] relationships, your work relationships, community, neighbors. Then there’s wellness and body, which speaks for itself. There’s creativity—what are your hobbies? How do you learn? How do you want to educate yourself? Then there’s vocation—what I call “livelihood.” That can be whatever you want it to be. That can be career, job, cash, money, your lifestyle, the things you want to own—the material possessions in your life and what you want to do for work in the world. Then at the center of all of that is your essence—what I call “essence and spirituality.” Call it whatever you want—your higher self, your original self, your soul.
You can look at those areas of your life and you’re going to ask yourself how you most want to feel in every area of your life. My guidance around this is to not hold back—to let it be stream of consciousness. You can do this with the book. You can do it with a journal. You can do a walking meditation. You can do it in a weekend. Some people [take] months to get through this.
If you want to feel electric, spicy, or red, go ahead! Write it down. If you want to feel love, respect, vitality, connection, get all that down.
The next step is all about pattern recognition. You will see the same concepts, the same words and feelings coming up again and again. I guarantee you that how you want to feel within your vocation or in terms in money is probably how you want to feel in your relationships as well. How you want to feel in your body ideally is probably how you want to feel in terms of your creative expression.
Then I nudge you. I lovingly and strongly encourage you to narrow it down to three, maybe four or five, core desired feelings. Any more than that, I think it gets a little unwieldy. Personally, my brain cannot hold more than five desired feelings to focus on. And this is about focus. The power of focus here is about generating those feelings on a regular basis. Then, you’re going to attach those core desired feelings to some goals.
Once you’ve made that declaration, “Hey, this is how I most want to feel in my life.”—let me just pause and say this is an art, not a science. So, play with the words. Play with the concepts for a while. You don’t have to—don’t let the creative tension out of: “Do I want to feel joy or do I want to feel bliss?” Don’t let that creative tension sort of hem you up from just going forward with the desired feeling.
This is where the rubber really hits the road, which is [that] you’re going to go through all of those life areas again and you’re going to ask yourself, “What do you need to do or have or experience in those areas that’s going to help generate those core desired feelings?”
Your answer is maybe things like—let’s say one of your core desired feelings is energized. What do you need to do this year to feel energized? Maybe it’s about committing to literally climb the mountain or it’s as simple as yoga twice a week, or you’re going to break up, or you’re going to quit the job, or you’re going to sell the house. They can be very small things or big, sweeping, life-changing things. My guidance on goal-setting in relationship to your core desired feelings is—and I prefer the language “intentions”—to really just focus on a few things for the year.
Personally, I don’t plan farther out in my life than one or two years. I feel like time really is quickening. I want to accomplish two or three great things a year instead of ten good things. I want to hit it out of the park instead of decent. So, for me, it’s three big things a year, max.
TS: I can imagine from hearing your own core desired feelings and just imagining what some might be without going through the whole process—which I realize would clarify and bring some greater nuance—but I could see core desired feelings like, flow, peace, balance. People may have different ones—turned-on or whatever people might be. But probably no one puts on their list—or I doubt it—as a core desired feeling something like grief.
And yet, a question I have for you about this process is if something happens in our life and suddenly we lose someone very dear to us, maybe a child, a pet, a parent, or a close friend. Suddenly, we’re so far away from these core desired feelings. We feel—in grief, you just feel like a ball of numb yuck—super yuck, to use a technical way of describing it.
DL: Is that a Buddhist term?
TS: Yes, super yuck. Yes, exactly.
My question is—and it could be a different example. I’m just trying to pick something that probably most of us can relate to, like grief, which seems you can’t really avoid. You can’t get out of it. You didn’t expect it. It wasn’t part of your New Year’s plan. What do you do when that happens and it just doesn’t match anywhere with your core desired feelings?
DL: That’s such a great question. This isn’t about feeling awesome all of the time. This is about feeling whole. And wholeness includes grief. Wholeness includes your undesired feelings or anything but core desired feelings. Where the spaciousness comes in is that you can be in the despair of grief and be conscious and awake enough to say, “This is not how I want to feel. I want to feel joy. I want to feel connection.”
And in that moment, it doesn’t mean that you are negating the grief. It doesn’t mean that—speaking specifically about grief—you’re not going to let it wash you over like you need to with grief. But it means that you’re going to see a way out. You are going to be able to still be with what’s there for you—the opposite of desirable—and know that you can be in another possibility.
Grief is a particularly intense one. That’s why it’s a good example. But, let’s say we’re still in the grief. You’d be in that and you could say, “My core desired feelings are deep purpose, joy, and vitality. What can I do today—what can I do just this morning while I’m lying in bed and seized with grief, to feel any number of those things? Maybe joy is a shower. Maybe joy is going to talk to your priest. It’s not staying in bed. It’s not believing that grief is the only option.
TS: You mentioned, Danielle, about how when you started working with matching your actions in the world with your core desired feelings, that it started to “loosen this grip on ambition.” Let’s talk more about that. What do you mean by that? And ambition—is there such a thing as healthy ambition versus ambition that seems to take us away from our core desired feelings?
DL: Yes. I would have goals like I want to go to Paris, and the year would have gone by and I didn’t get to go to Paris. I had another goal of: I want to get this book done. Another year would have gone by and I didn’t get the book done. But, alongside of those external or physical goals, were my core desired feelings of wanting to feel in communion or divinely feminine.
I would look at my year and say, “I’m still feeling a lot of divine femininity, a lot of joy, a lot of abundance, and all of those other things I want to feel, because I went to New York four times this year and partied it up, did great business, and hung out at The Met.”
So, I got that feeling satiated. It just didn’t come in the form of Paris. I got to see it—core desired feeling—creation. I may not have gotten the book done, but I launched three other online things. That really fed my well—that longing for creativity. I would have moments where I think, “Wow. I feel full.” But, my fullness—the fullness of my being internally—is not matching up with the metrics I had set up for myself that year. I finally tipped over and was like, “I’m still good. I’m happy. My internal state does not need to match that list that I made.” There was a moment of me realizing, “Wow. I’m happier than I’ve really been admitting to.” [Laughs.] Because I’m hitting it in terms of desired states of being.
That led to the revelation of healthy ambition. I’m going to push this even further and say “healthy attachments.” [Having] healthy attachment [as] the preferred state of being to a core desired feeling allows you to stay open to what life is going to bring to you or what you are going to manifest—however you want to look at that.
There’s a good romantic analogy around this. Maybe one of your core desired feelings is connection. And you meet someone who you feel—not only do you feel incredibly connected to them, but in their presence, in your dynamic together, in your chemistry, you actually feel more connected to the universe.
That’s wonderful. That’s just how you wanted to feel with your perfect partner, except they live across the country. They’re about a foot shorter than you wanted. They’re a different faith. And maybe all of that doesn’t matter, because you get the feeling fulfilled. In that way, you can be a “yes” and the external packaging doesn’t matter as much. When the packaging doesn’t matter as much, you double your chances of fulfillment. The odds are good.
TS: So, here we are, and we’re coming to the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. We’re talking really about the Desire Mapping process in terms of how we might map, as you call them, goals with soul. I’m curious, before we even get to what might happen in the year ahead, how might someone look over what has happened in this past year and evaluate it in a different kind of way?
What would be a Desire Mapping way to evaluate the year that has come? If we look at what we did and didn’t accomplish, of course, as you’re saying, people might have all kinds of conclusions about the year that just passed. All kinds of things happened that we didn’t want to have happen potentially, or we didn’t achieve this or that, or we said in the beginning of the year we were going to weigh X amount and let’s look at the facts, here it is at the end of the year. How do I look at the year that’s past here—that’s just past?
DL: Well, with a heaping dose of gratitude, which is also the preface to the whole Desire Mapping process as well. You run yourself through gratitude in every area and dissatisfaction in every area. I think that the central question to the year in review practice is, how did you feel? You could ask yourself, “Did you feel the way you wanted to feel?” But, I think there’s a lot of judgment that would rise up in that and I think it’s easy to just say yes or no.
Look at the major events, the things you pulled off, the things you didn’t pull off, and ask yourself how you felt. You may be surprised, when you give it some space, that you may have felt happier than you allowed yourself to fully experience. There might be some empty successes in that. There may be great things that you pulled off. If you really look closely at it through the lens of your heart, you might say, “Wow. I made that touchdown. I won the award. I got that fat check. But, it felt a little bit empty.”
On the shadowy feelings—on the not-so-positive feelings—how did you want to feel instead? That exercise alone will probably help throw a lot of light on what your core desired feelings might actually be. This theme of empty successes, I’m hearing a lot about. Now that I’m on my soapbox about desire, increasing your chances of feeling great, and when you arrive—I’m hearing some really sobering stories [like], “Yeah, I was at this awards banquet. I’ve been working for years to get that trophy. And I never felt so empty as I did that night. I realized that all I wanted was for my dad to look at me and tell me that he loved me. It was all to be loved. And had I known that it was all to be loved, maybe I would have gone after different things in a very different way.”
TS: One of the things you write about in The Desire Map in relationship to gratitude is that it can be helpful to be quite specific about what we’re grateful for. I wonder if you could talk about that. Why is that helpful and how specific do I actually have to be as I am reviewing the year that just past?
DL: [Laughs.] I like these buttons on my . . . Well, I love, love, love gratitude. I’m so turned-on by the practice of gratitude. It is medicine that works, at least for me. I think there’s power in specificity, because it has you get closer and really—it has you take a 360 degree look at what you’re grateful for. You don’t have to skate over—I’m so grateful I have a house. Why? I’m so grateful that I have a house to host family in, because I feel closer to them. I am grateful for the warmth, because it makes me aware that there are so many people in my community who are not warm tonight. And that reminds me, I better make a phone call about where I’m going to volunteer this Christmas holiday.
Tonight, I’m snuggled in bed with my nine-year-old boy and I say, “Usually we do Q and A, but tonight let’s do five gratefuls.” He said, “Well, I’m grateful that you’re snuggly.” I said, “Why are you grateful that I’m snuggly?” And he said, “It just makes me feel loved.” And I thought, “Yes. There’s the power of specificity.”
I think that specific gratitude is a stride towards being more conscious.
TS: You said, Danielle, in terms of looking at the year in review, that in addition to looking at what we’re grateful for that it can be helpful to look at what disappointed us or what didn’t work—I can’t remember the exact language that you used.
DL: Full-on dissatisfaction. It sucked. This has got to change.
TS: OK, now I’m with you completely. I’m sure that our listeners, too, can imagine saying a lot about the year that just went by that we are dissatisfied with. How is that going to help? I’ve been chewing on that stuff all year. How is that going to help me?
DP: Because the darkness is part of wholeness. Because it’s there anyway. As my mother would say, it’s the turd in the punchbowl that somebody needs to address. To not address it is to take the sleeping pill and not be fully awake about your life. If you’re not fully awake about the darkness that’s in your life and the negative stuff that’s in your life, then you can’t really set out to create more or the lightness.
The only container, the only request, that I offer in terms of the process of going through every area and looking at what you’re dissatisfied with is to not go too far with it. I say—it could be this simple—list five things that you’re grateful for in every area of your life, but list only two and a half things that you’re dissatisfied with in your life. That is not to encourage just a little bit of denial. That is to encourage the practice of restraint around bitching and complaining, because that is an act of mindfulness. I see the darkness. I’m going to choose the light. I see what didn’t work. I’m going to choose gratitude instead.
We want to address it and we don’t want to give it too much energy.
TS: So how do I address it though? I see this list of all of the things that I have been dissatisfied with in the past year. What am I going to do with that?
DL: Maybe nothing. The first thing you’re going to do is to not worry about solutions for what sucked or for what is sucking. This is what happens. Someone is in a crap relationship. They don’t know what they’re going to do. They don’t know how they’re going to solve it. Are they going to have to leave? Is she going to change? Is he going to change? Am I going to have to change? Who’s going to get the couch? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
They never fully admit to how painful the situation is. Just admit to the pain. Admit to what isn’t working. Admit to the dissatisfaction. That in and of itself is going to loosen things. It’s going to bring some solutions up. It’s going to empower you to choose some positivity. When you look at those things, you might decide you’re OK with them and nothing needs changing. Or you’ll feel some buoyancy and you’re going to set out to make some changes for the coming year. Those changes are going to directly relate to your core desired feelings.
Relationship is sucking. I feel constricted. I feel powerless. I could go on, but my core desired feelings tell me that I want to feel connected and I want to feel adoring, etc., etc. What am I going to do to do that this year within that relationship?
TS: So I map out what I’m going to do in the new year based on actions that will help bring about my core desired feelings. And everything is going well until the second week in January, the third week in January, the fourth. How long will it take?
DP: Will you stop going to the gym as well? [Laughs.]
TS: Yes, exactly, all of it. I still have my Post-It with my core desired feelings. I look at them and I think, “Yes, OK, but I feel so far away from those feelings right now.” I had all of these actions, it’s not—what’s going to happen then?
DP: You’re going to “do the work” or you’re not. Just like you’re going to go to the gym or you’re not. Are you committed or are you not to feeling the way that you want to feel? My guidance is that this could be one small, micro, tiny thing you could do a day to feel your core desired feelings.
A great example is, for myself, I want to feel the divine feminine. I want to feel Shakti. The simple choice of that day could be, I’m going to wear a skirt today and put up my hair instead of yoga pants and a ponytail. That’s it. Feel better, feel sexier, feel more girly. That’s it.
And that may help me make a bigger decision. I’m going to read—actually this was on my list one year. What am I going to do to generate femininity? I’m going to read one chapter of Women Who Run with the Wolves every week for a month. That was it—a very simple act that opens up so much and gives me so much more power to deepen into that. So, small things, micro things, to feel the way you most want to feel.
TS: There’s a chapter in the book that ‘s on resistance. You could say that what we’re talking about is: What do we do when resistance to our core desired feelings comes up? You have this phrase that you use that we need to “ride it out.” I’d love to know more about that. What does that mean?
DP: Well, my learning around resistance—in the book, I interview an athletic coach who literally addresses the—everybody signs up for the gym in January and doesn’t go three weeks later, because the resistance comes up. The theory that I’m leaning on here is that resistance is—on a cellular level, your cells are starting to push back. They’re saying to you, “Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa. Something’s different—new information, new behavior. This is change. You’re asking me to reconfigure. I’m going to resist. I’m going to push back, because I like being this shape. I like being this vibration.”
The beauty of that push-back, that resistance, which most of us experience psychologically, is that it’s showing you that actually, something’s happening underneath. A signal is getting through that there’s change coming down the pike. Your action is being felt. That’s actually a great thing. It’s something to be celebrated. When you can have that perspective, that attitude of, “Whoa, OK, resistance is happening. Change. This is a sign.” Then you can ride it out and push on through.
I’m not talking about dampening or tamping down your instincts. I’m not talking about suffering. I’m talking about celebrating a different kind of intensity and getting to the other side of that.
TS: Interestingly, Danielle, in this conversation, a couple of times you’ve used a construction in answering my questions, which is something like, “My guidance says,” or “My guidance tells me,” and I’d be curious to know more about your guidance and how you receive it, do you invoke it, and how that works for you.
DP: The reason I give that context is because this is just my information and my experience. I never want to say, “These are the ten steps, these are the things you have to do, and this is what works.” This is just an idea that I’ve had and I wrote it out and spoke it out. It works for me personally, in a profound way, and it’s working for lots of other people. Take what you want and leave the rest. And if this doesn’t work, I’m going to be the last person that says, “This is the only way to fulfillment.” That’s where that tone comes from.
The other side of that, to answer that—where does my guidance come from? My guidance comes from experience. So, while I’m out there and I am New Agey-er than most New Agers—I’m so New Agey that I’m practical. [Laughs.] I come full circle for myself. Does this work? Does this flavor, does this practice of what could be labeled spiritual, actually work? Do I feel better at the end of the day? Do I feel the way I want to feel at the end of the day?
There are lots of things that attach to that—to my core desired feelings. For me to feel in communion and divinely feminine in creation, I need to be in service. That’s just the way I’m wired. That’s five planets in Virgo. If I’m not in service, it’s a dark day for me.
My guidance comes from my girlfriends. I would be in a loony bin without the community of my chicks to talk about all of life. Back to my definition of “holistic”—that which works. For me, holistic includes core desired feelings, deep contemplation, awesome shoes, a green smoothie, and sometimes a Marlboro Light. It’s all of it.
TS: There’s this quote from the book where you say, “My desire is my prayer.” What do you mean by that?
DP: I believe that when I declare my desire, when I extend the wish, I believe that I am heard by multiple sources, actually. I think, “I hear me,” and that’s really important that my psyche hears me. So, when I say, “I desire to feel free,” I really declare that and own that. I think my synapses are going to start firing in a different way, because I made that declaration. I think I’m going to start thinking differently. I think I’m going to come with ideas of things I can do or ways I can be that are going to make me feel free.
I also feel that God hears me—my God. You can call it the cosmic intelligence. Somehow, that declared desire, that wish, that dream, lands on the cosmic radar and it’s a prayer. The cosmos is going to help make good on that for me. It’s going to help me realize that desire.
TS: Danielle, I’m imagining someone listening who says, “This sounds good, but when I start checking in to what my desires are, they might be things that sound contradictory. Maybe I’m not getting deep enough. Maybe I don’t really know how to identify my desires. For example, I desire to be thinner, but I also desire lots of chocolate cake.” I’m just picking something absurd to make my point.
DP: That’s actually a great example.
TS: We could say, “I desire a deeper relationship with my partner and I also desire sex with my best friend’s partner.”
DP: That’s another good one.
TS: What’s going on here? How is my desire going to be my prayer? I feel all screwed up trying to identify my desires here.
DP: What you’ve listed off, let’s say, “More sex and cake!” [Laughs.] Hands up for that!
TS: [They’re] just the first two things that happened to occur to me.
DP: Or sex while eating cake. Let’s just call those things—those are experiences. Those are “havings.” They’re very different than feelings. What I’m on here about is core desired feelings. Let me use the food one as a great example.
I was having a conversation with Geneen Roth. Who knows more about desire and food than Geneen? She put this exact question to me, “How is Desire Mapping going to help my psychologically-abused, french-fry-addicted woman in my workshop?” To which I responded, “I’m actually getting lots of email from people who are saying, ‘I realize my core desired feeling was ‘energized’ and now when I sit down and eat, I ask myself if that extra helping is going to make me feel energized.’”
The French fry example specifically came up. I was going to order fries and I knew that if that went down in my body, I was not going to feel energized, so I ordered something else. So, it does affect those literal health choices.
In relationship, it’s about the feeling. Maybe you do want to sleep with your partner’s—your friend’s friend or whatever. Is that going to make you feel—is that going to fulfill the core desired feeling? Is that really about the core desired feeling or is that some surface thing—some fleeting craving? If what you want is communion, is that going to fracture the communion that you have with your committed partner? Then the answer with sleeping with someone outside of the committed relationship is a “No,” even if the craving might be there. It’s not fulfilling the core desired feeling.
TS: It seems that some of what you’re advocating here is if we’re going to identify our core desired feelings, not to mix them up with other sort of wants. I think that when most people hear the word “desire,” they do hear things like cake, sex with a partner who is outside of the committed relationship, and things like that. Here you’re saying, “My desire is my prayer.” But, you’re really dropping people into a deeper level of desire. Do you think that’s fair to say?
DP: Yes, that’s fair to say. That’s it. This is the depth. This is why it’s called—the reference is—your core desired feelings. This isn’t about the hungry ghost, as some people call it—those needs that need to be filled. Although I will say, I think at the beginning of this journey, it might not matter where some of your desired feelings are coming from. Let me be specific about this.
Let’s keep going with the feeling of connection. Maybe you long to feel connected. Maybe it is a true core desired feeling. Because you had parents that didn’t pay attention to you during childhood, so you want it more than anything. What I’ve seen happen with people who Desire Map is they say, “That desire is coming from this needy place. It’s coming from a wounded place.”
To which I say, “Who cares? It’s what’s up. It’s been up for a long time. It doesn’t matter if it’s coming from a wound. It feels very much alive and very deep in your being. It’s repetitive and it’s not going to let you go. So, why don’t you just declare ‘connection’ as one of your core desired feelings? Then, go and do whatever it takes to generate that feeling of connection, whether it’s a new partnership, a thank you note, or a new religion. What’s it going to take for you to feel that way?”
I think as we generate those positive feelings, we make healthier and healthier choices. The way that we go about getting our needs met, our feelings fulfilled, gets healthier and healthier.
TS: Have you ever found in your experience that in working with your core desires that your core desires ever bumped up against someone else’s? [Where] it was like, “Wow! We have conflicting desires here.”
I’m imagining things in my business, for example, where me and somebody else may just have conflicting desires. We’re both being true to our core desires and they’re not matching up here.
DP: Yes, that’s life. It’s going to be bumpy. We’re going to be incongruous. And we will make our choices accordingly. It’s, “Hey, I want a vacation where it’s hot.” “I want a vacation where it’s cold.” Those vacationing choices are true to my desired feelings. Great! I’ll have two vacations or three vacations a year.
I think that committing to generating how you want to feel means that there is going to be some conflict. It’s guaranteed. And there will be some guilt. Guilt comes with being more conscious. It’s part of committing to a dream. You will feel—you committed to feeling creative and you’re going to write your book this year. That means that you need to get a babysitter for your kid so you can go to the cafe and write. It’s guaranteed that you’re going to feel guilty.
Does that mean that you’re not going to go after the feeling of creativity? No, that’s part of it. You want to feel awake, free, alive, whatever it is. You’re going to leave relationships. You will move on from the person who gave you your first big break. You will disappoint people, guaranteed. You will disappoint people as you evolve, because it’s the nature of evolution. [Laughs.] Not everybody is going to come with you. Some people are going to have the audacity to say that you are selfish for following your dream and making good on the promise of your core desired feelings. That’s the way it goes.
So, are you going to choose to constrict to please them, or are you going to choose to expand and feed your soul? I think the choice of expansion and nurturing your soul in that way is definitely way better for you in the long run. It actually is, in my way of living, a way of being of service to more people.
TS: That’s beautiful. I’m imagining someone who’s been listening to our conversation who has reached a place where they’re starting to identify something in their life that’s really going to need to change in order for them to live in more alignment with their core desired feeling. This thing’s really going to have to change, whether it’s a job, a relationship, their living situation, or whatever.
They’re hearing you. It would even be more of service to expand and to make that change. But, some part of them is [saying], “I don’t know if I’m really going to do it or not. In this moment, listening to Danielle, I’m certainly contemplating it. But, once this conversation’s over, am I really going to do it? I don’t really know.”
What would you say to that person?
DP: Are you going to wake up or not? That’s it. This is a choice. Choose to expand or choose to constrict. It’s your choice.
Do you just want to look at the cake or do you want to eat the cake? Because it’s there to be eaten. How much longer do you want to be half asleep? Do you want a good life or do you want a fucking awesome life?
These are choices. They are yours to make. Yours to make. As a fellow human, as a soul on the planet right now, I want to say, “Choose life! Choose the cake! Choose the cake, man. Choose the core desired feelings. Say yes to your soul. It’s so much better over here. And it’s a work in progress. You’re going to slip off. Yes. Choose life.”
TS: Danielle, I want to ask you what I think is kind of a difficult question.
DP: Is this my toughie?
TS: This is the toughie question that I want to throw out to you.
DP: OK. I’m going to have a sip of tea and then take a deep breath.
TS: In The Desire Map, several times in talking about core desired feelings and in talking about the Desire Mapping process, you refer to: “Feeling good is our primary intention”—that, “Feeling good is the primary intention.”
I started really reflecting on this, and I thought to myself, “Is feeling good underneath what I am really focused on as a person? Is my primary intention to feel good?” I’m not sure.
And I started thinking, I wonder if that is true for all people. Is feeling good underneath—whatever words—you’ve shared with us some of your words for your core desired feelings—what some of those are. Is that really what’s underneath everybody’s human experience? Is that what constellates all of our lives—this primary intention to feel good?
DP: Well, you get to define what feeling good is. And then we all get to judge it. [Laughs.] Feeling good for you could be hostility. Feeling good for you could be a monastic lifestyle.
TS: Well, if feeling good could be hostility, I think we might be on the right track here. Just kidding.
DP: [Laughs.] I’m not here to say what “good” is. I’m here to say you get to define and it’s driving you. The desire to feel good is driving you in some capacity. It doesn’t—I was actually just listening to a conversation with you and Almaas. He was talking about just being in the state that you’re in right now and not saying, “Hey, I’m feeling miserable, but I’m not supposed to be feeling miserable.”
I’m with that. I 100 percent sign up for that theory. But I’m 100 percent down with the theory that we have a gravitational pull to wanting to feel good. My belief is that —I’m with 50 percent of the Buddhists, because 50 percent disagree with me on this—your true nature is joy. Give me a hardcore Buddhist or a Lama, and I’m like, “Psst, come here. I have a question for you. It’s a yes or no question. Is our true nature joy?” [Laughs.] They say, “Yes.” And I say, “I knew it!”
If I’m being really me, I’m going to be in a state of joy. I’m going to be feeling good. It’s a roundabout way of saying, “Yes, I’m going to stand by that one, I think.” For many, many of us, the primary intention of being here is to return to our true nature, which is joy—warm, luminous, and friendly. It’s good.
TS: What are the questions that you’re asking, if there are any, about the Desire Mapping process?
DP: Because I’m an entrepreneur who happens to be an artist, or an artist who is an entrepreneurially oriented, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Oh, is this a flash in the pan?” I think of it from a creative standpoint. I’m interested in this as a cultural conversation. Is this going to last? Does this have legs? [Are these] the next seven steps that are just good for a couple of years? I’m very intrigued with that.
I’m not frightened of [it] not lasting. I like lots of creativity. For me, in terms of a career, I am really interested in one of the questions you asked earlier about core desires bumping up against each other, specifically, in terms of romantic relationship. Beside that question, I can see myself really gravitating towards: How does this work for couples in romantic relationship to really rock?
Either find—”harmony” is not one of my favorite words. I like “fulfillment.” Let’s go with “fulfillment.” To really find fulfillment in relationship. Because I think this is like a truth poker, what core desired feelings can do for people. I’m hearing some great stories about couples: “I sat down on the couch with my husband and we had never in 12 years of being in relationship talked about how we wanted to feel. He had no idea that I wanted to feel adored. He said, ‘I can do that. I can make you feel adored.’ And I had no idea that he wanted to feel respected. I spent the whole weekend telling him how much I respect him.”
It’s helping people support people in their journey to fulfillment. My whole team—of course we do this, right? One of the women on my team, one of her core desired feelings is “brave.” I can help with that. I can spur you. I can support you. I can be compassionate. I can be pushy. I can do lots of things to support you fulfilling bravery in your life. I’m so glad I know that about you now.
TS: As you were talking, what I was imagining is: Yes, I could share my Desire Map in general with my partner. But I could also just talk about what my core desired feelings might be specifically in the relationship, and that that would be an interesting practice to do with one’s partner.
DP: Yes. I think you’re desired feelings in your relationship are going to carry over. I like things neat. I’m pretty tidy. So, I would say, “Whoa. That kind of makes me nervous.” Don’t come up with one set for the rest of your life, and then one set of core desired feelings for your relationship. That could get unwieldy. But, hey, if that works for you, get unwieldy.
I think you could just really go deep and far if your core desired feelings were at the center of your relationship. I almost feel shy saying that. Shyness comes from that same place as, “I ain’t no guru. This is just stuff that I’ve been learning along the way that might be useful.”
But I’ll go out on a limb and say, “[Are] core desired feelings central to your relationship? Yes!” Hot stuff.
TS: You talked about how you could support somebody in your organization with her core desired feeling of bravery. Talk a little bit about the power of Desire Mapping with other people or in a group—how we can support each other in this.
DP: Oh, magic, because there’s that affinity and that permission—this is a big thing, right?—permission for people. You want to feel passionate too? Oh my god, I want to feel passionate. Or, you want to feel passionate, but your life is, you’re thinking, blah and drab and flat. I think my life is flat too.
Dare I desire to feel a way that I have never felt before in my life? Oh my god. That’s some breakthrough stuff for some people of: I want to feel a sense of beauty in my life. I’ve never felt beautiful my whole life. How could I be so audacious as to make that my central spiritual ambition?
Well, we’re all in it together now and we’re going to support you to do that and show you how beautiful you are and help you feel more [beautiful]. Then there’s the magic of accountability. Actually, it’s not that magic. It’s just Psych 101. [Laughs.] When [you make] a public declaration that “I am committed to feeling this.” you’re going to say, “You know, you’ve been talking about feeling courageous. Didn’t you want to feel courageous? Why are you still in that job? Why are you staying? Because I thought one of your core desired feelings was ‘courageous.’” And you’ll say, “Yes, it got me. I gave my notice on Monday.”
TS: Finally, Danielle, I have one last question for you. Our program is called Insights at the Edge. I’m always curious to know what people’s personal edge is and, in your case, what your edge might be in relationship to living the Desire Map in your life—living your core desired feelings. What would you say is the edge of that for you, where you’re really working it right now?
DP: The edge. I get to define “edge” any way I want, right?
DP: OK, I got it. For me, it’s about ‘in communion.” The edginess—my palms got a little funny there—this has been a struggle for a long time, a journey. I used to think that I should force connection from people. [I thought] that if I wasn’t feeling connected to them, there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t being loving, out of compassion, evolved enough, or spiritual enough. I’m kind of done with that. In fact, I’ll just say it now, since we’re recording. “I’m done with that forcing communion.”
Why that makes my palms sweat is because, for me, living from that place of—if I’m not in communion, if I don’t feel that sense of resonance, familiarity, or looking through the same lens, then I’m a “no.” There’s a judgment that comes with that from people. “You’re a ‘no?’ But you just shook his hand.” I say, “I didn’t feel it.” That’s all I needed to know.
Or, “That’s a great opportunity. There’s money there. There’s blah, blah, blah.” I say, “I don’t feel the communion. I’m a ‘no.’” And that’s hard. It’s hard to say no to shiny things, because I know that I am a loving being. I so want to merge with people. I so want connection. It’s hard to not force [it]. It’s hard to take off my rose-colored glasses sometimes and say, “This could work. This could be awesome. [But] I’m actually not feeling it.”
So that’s my edge. Thanks for asking.
TS: I guess I am just going to ask one final, final question.
DP: Yes, keep it going.
TS: If you could just—I’m going to ask a favor now—if you would be willing to leave our listeners with some type of Desire Map blessing.
DP: Yes! Great one. You are worthy of your desires. Your desires are always right. There is a rightness and a truth to every desire that springs into your being. It’s there to be seen. The wish is for you to not just see, but to fully honor every desire and to devote yourself to the desires that will move you into your fullness with absolute grace.
TS: I’ve been speaking with Danielle LaPorte, the author of a new book called The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul. She’s also created a new six-session audio course that takes you through the whole Desire Mapping process. It’s called The Desire Map Experience. As well as an audio program on how to live with your core desired feelings each day of your life, called The Desire Map Daily.
Danielle, thank you for being with us. Thank you.
DP: Deepest bow. Thank you and thank you to everybody who is listening. All love.
TS: SoundsTrue.com. Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.