Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker’s weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and a guide to using its waters to reflect on and improve your life.
This week’s selections come from Epictetus. As we enter the holiday season, he reminds us that we should show gratitude for what we have:
And also says thanks should extend beyond the present:
What It Means
The first quote is very straightforward: Wise folks find joy in what they have instead of being upset about what they don’t have. It isn’t unlike last week’s selection, suggesting the more you want, the poorer you’ll end up feeling.
But Epictetus also believes there is a simple rule set we all must follow in our universe. It basically breaks down to: Cherish what you have, don’t try to take things that aren’t yours from others, don’t waste energy desiring what you don’t already have, and be ready and willing to let go of something when the time comes. The way Epictetus sees it, you don’t really have those things in the first place. It’s more like you’re borrowing things from the universe, so you shouldn’t be upset when the universe wants those things back.
Furthermore, you should be thankful that the universe let you borrow that thing, whatever it is, in the first place. You’re a grown person who does not cry for your mother, so do not cry for the loss of things.
What to Take From It
Show gratitude not only for what you have now, but also for what you once had in the past. Be thankful for the meal you have in front of you, but also for the meals you’ve had before. Be thankful for the people in your life now, but also the people from your past that helped you get by and shaped who you’ve become. If you can reflect and show gratitude for the past and present, you’ll make it easier to find gratitude in the future. There’s almost always a silver lining to everything, and by practising thankfulness, you’ll always be able to spot it.