In the whirlwind of our ever-demanding lives, it’s easy to fall into the trap of constantly yearning for more – more success, more possessions, more experiences.
However, the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus offers a timeless piece of wisdom:
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
This profound statement underlines the importance of gratitude and contentment.
Let’s explore this concept through three relatable examples.
### 1. **The Career Ladder Climb**
Imagine Sarah, a young, ambitious marketing executive.
She worked tirelessly to land her current position at a renowned firm.
During her university years, she dreamed of this day – working with big brands, earning a respectable salary, and being part of a dynamic team.
However, now immersed in her job, Sarah often finds herself enviously eyeing the higher managerial roles, feeling restless and unsatisfied.
Here, Epicurus’ quote serves as a gentle reminder for Sarah to appreciate her journey and achievements.
Not long ago, she yearned for exactly what she has now.
By refocusing on the present, acknowledging her hard work and the goals she has already attained, Sarah can find fulfillment and joy in her current role, even as she ambitiously plans for the future.
### 2. **The Pursuit of Material Wealth**
Consider the story of Alex, who once dreamed of owning a luxury car.
After years of saving, he finally purchases his dream vehicle.
Yet, within months, the excitement fades.
Alex starts noticing even more expensive and luxurious cars on the road, and his once-dream car no longer brings him the same joy.
Epicurus’ philosophy highlights the fleeting nature of such desires.
Alex’s initial longing for the car was a source of motivation and excitement, but once attained, it quickly lost its luster.
The lesson here is about finding a balance between aspiration and contentment.
While it’s natural to desire nice things, it’s equally important to cherish and appreciate what we have achieved and possess.
### 3. **Personal Relationships and Social Media Envy**
Finally, let’s talk about Emily, an avid social media user.
She often finds herself scrolling through posts, feeling envious of others’ seemingly perfect relationships, vacations, and lifestyles.
This envy overshadows her own happy, loving relationship and enjoyable life experiences.
In this scenario, Epicurus’ words remind Emily to appreciate the real-life connections and moments she cherishes.
The joy and satisfaction in her life can easily be overshadowed by the allure of what others have.
Recognizing the value in her experiences and relationships, the ones she once longed for, can bring back the joy and gratitude that social media envy often diminishes.
Epicurus’ statement is more than just a call to be grateful; it’s a profound insight into human psychology.
It’s about recognizing the beauty in what we have now, remembering our past desires, and finding contentment in the present.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire for more, but rather, we should not let our future ambitions cloud the appreciation of our current blessings.
By mastering this art of appreciation, we can lead more fulfilling and happier lives.
Dr. Joe Vitale