Among the teachings of the Stoics is the ephemeral nature of life and the passing of time.
The followers of Wabi-Sabi in the Orient recognize the impermanence, imperfection, and incompleteness of all things.
The Poet Kate Ryan writes of the “joy of finding lost things”
And Carly Simon in “Anticipation” sings that she will stay right here because these are the good old days.
From all these individuals one learns three mental exercises to appreciate what we have:
Imagine a thing you own or a person or place you appreciate lost.
Imagine that you were doing something for the last time.
Imagine that the life you lead is the life that millions aspire to as you aspire to some other life.
The joy of finding lost things.
All of us have lost things and sometimes re-found them.
A set of keys, a wallet, a passport.
Sometimes a child in a crowd and sometimes a friend after an argument who we make up with.
Other time it is our health or a home or a job.
When we lose something, we often feel more pain in its absence than the joy we had in its presence.
Whenever we have the opportunity to recover it, we appreciate it more than ever before.
An exercise from the Stoics is to imagine you have lost something to appreciate what one has.
As the line goes “we do not know what we have until we have lost it”
Paying attention as if we were doing it for the last time.
What makes the ordinary and every day extra-ordinary is that one day it will not be so.
There will be a last day a child will crawl. A last day you will see someone. A last day you will visit a place or drive a car or go to a restaurant. Sometimes we know the last times and often we do not. When we are aware of the last times, we have a higher sense of attention and a sensitivity to the specialness and the passing of the moment.
But these last times come every week and sometimes every day.
The ordinary becomes extra-ordinary when we pay attention, and we find poetry in the crevices of every day.
We are living the life that many aspire to.
Most humans aspire to the next better and bigger thing. A combination of our hedonistic adaptation (getting used to what we have), benchmarking against others and other things (the income and home we thought would be amazing a decade ago may be seen as just okay when compared to others) and imagination (our ability to imagine greater, bigger and better or be reminded of it in our media streams) all drive us to next.
We sometimes define our happiness by our advancement toward the things we do not have versus the things we do have.
Most people living in the Western World of the Upper and Upper Middle Classes of most countries who also have their health are living the life that billions aspire to.
The life we have got used to is the aspiration for most people.
We are living the dream life for many as we dream of living some other life.
We may wish to celebrate every new day as a day of thanks and gratitude.
Photography by William Eggleston.
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Rishad Tobaccowala is an author, speaker, educator and advisor who helps people see, think and feel differently about growth. Growth of their business, their teams and themselves. Check out Rishad’s workshops that companies world wide are leveraging to unleash their talent and enhance their productivity: The Workshops. For more about Rishad Tobaccowala click here.