Cultivating Conative Balance

Presented by The Contemplary and the Positive Psychology Interest Group

All of us want to be happy and we all want the freedom to pursue our desires. But since time immemorial, human beings have been grappling with the fact that not all of our desires will help us flourish. We are all familiar with the experience of being torn by conflicting desires, or of succumbing to desires which we know to be misguided. This raises some important questions. Are we in control of our desires, or are our desires in control of us? Is there anything we can do to cultivate wholesome desires, and free ourselves from harmful ones? How can we exercise greater choice around which desires we pursue?

In this lecture, Dr Alan Wallace will explore the notion of ‘conative intelligence,’ or desiring wisely. Drawing from years of contemplative practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, as well as deep scholarly erudition, Dr Wallace contends that it is in fact possible to cultivate conative intelligence. By combining the scientific rigour of modern psychology with the introspective methods of enquiry found in Buddhist psychology, Dr Wallace proposes a new model for approaching human flourishing and the ethical life.