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.
Photo by Samantha Henneke.
This week’s selection comes from Epictetus. He has a lesson for those who seem to “want it all”:
What It Means
People want so much that they often don’t end up getting anything at all, then they spend their lives complaining about it. If they’d only let go of a few wants, they’d be able to focus and have something they truly care about. Basically, you can’t have it all. But you can have a few things if you’re willing to focus on them.
What to Take From It
I love this quote because its lesson is so simple yet incredibly useful. Life, reality and the universe are the constraints of the “goody” or cookie jar. It will only allow you to take (or do) so much. If you try to take or do too much, there’s a chance you won’t get anything at all. You can’t spread yourself too thin or waste your precious time on things that are less important to your overall well-being. Those things make your fist too large to pull out of the jar, and we all waste so much time holding onto those things, convinced there’s another way to get them all out.
So, you have two options: Smash the jar, sending cookies flying everywhere and ruining them all; or just let go of a few cookies and make do with less than what you were able to grab. In every aspect of your life, try to “drop a few treats”. Prioritise the treats that will truly enrich your life – whether it’s work, play or your personal life – then let go of the rest to remain in the jar. It’s better to have a few cookies than none at all.