“Cultivating Desire” by Frédéric Lenoir: Spotting What Will Bring Joy


From philosophy to neuroscience, including psychology, sociology and economics, philosopher and best-selling author Frédéric Lenoir revisits all forms of desire in his new book, Cultivating Desire. With this work for the general public, he invites everyone to live fully… and as he writes, live to the full. A key to achieving this: knowing how to spot what creates joy.

Desire is the engine of our lives. And to desire to live is not simply to be alive, to be functional on a daily basis. It is to embrace this vital momentum that drives us to create, to love, to surpass ourselves.

However, on a daily basis, many people prevent themselves from flourishing and allow themselves to be overwhelmed by limiting thoughts.

But how to cultivate the strength of desire without falling into the trap of permanent dissatisfaction or social mimicry – doing like the others? How to avoid the trap of consumerism, which pushes everyone to always acquire more things?

Frédéric Lenoir, with intelligence and a lot of lucidity, invites his readers to direct their desires towards things, activities and especially people who make people grow and create joy. 

Decline in vitality

The writer, philosopher and sociologist, recently in Quebec, explains in an interview that he wanted to write this book because he felt that there was, in general, a decline in desire among the population.

“There is a decline in vitality. Fear and insecurity have taken up so much space that I said to myself that it was absolutely necessary to talk about the vital momentum, desire, what drives our lives. As soon as we are in fear, finally, we are in survival instead of being in life. That's what I felt.”

“I wanted to write this book so that we could get out of this kind of anxiety-provoking climate where we are afraid of everything, where we don't 'dare go out more, to go on the contrary in full life.'

The opportunity to change

He notes that the pandemic has created frustrations of all kinds, and that we are now facing inflation, economic problems.

“I believe it can redirect our desires towards deeper things, more in the realm of being, which cost next to nothing and which give us profound joys.”

It's the opportunity to get out of consumerist desires. 

“Instead of going to buy a bigger car, why not learn to sing, I'm going to read a book that will allow me to grow in knowledge of such and such a thing, I'm going to take the time to look at nature or to 'to have a better quality relationship with my loved ones…'

'All of these are desires that are within us, but which are somewhat stifled by the desires of the consumer society. What we are experiencing can be an opportunity to move on to other types of desires.”

A changing society

He notes that society is changing in the face of excessive consumerism. 

“It's moving. There are plenty of young people today who no longer want that. They leave the system, they no longer want to earn a lot of money and then spend their life paying off debts. They want to travel, to make music, to be in nature, to cultivate a garden, to spend time with their friends.”

“They don’t necessarily want to earn a lot of money and consume a lot, so they are in carpooling, roommates, they buy second-hand clothes, etc. And for me, that is a sign of a societal change that is slowly taking place, towards getting out of always more, to move towards well-being.  

  • Frédéric Lenoir is a philosopher and sociologist.
  • He is the author of numerous books translated into twenty languages ​​and sold more than 10 million 'exemplary in the world.
  • He co-founded the organization SEVE (Savoir Being and Living Together), recognized by UNESCO and whose Canadian branch is based in Montreal.
  • For more information: seveformation.ca
  • He has other book projects in his boxes and is working on a TV series project. 


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