There is no doubt that we, human beings, tend to crave all the time for something. Anything better, faster, bigger, smarter or new gives satisfaction, some expression of happiness. Such yearning helps us shift a gear on a path towards a certain desire; it becomes a goal, a pleasure to be experienced. A new situation, be it a better health, stronger self-esteem or happier everyday life etc., through a new thought pattern wires itself into the mind and body. It works like a magnet, attracting and eventually projecting itself into the real time and space. There is nothing bad about it; actually it is at the core of our evolving existence. Indeed, the seek for satisfaction through change and introduction of something new in our (everyday) lives works as an antidote to boredom, depression, psychosomatic diseases, some problematic or even serious psychological conditions etc.
Often happens though, that as soon as one achieves the desired, the new one appears way too quickly leaving no time to enjoy and to be thankful for what one reached. The same taste of disappointment and discouragement occurs, clearly showing that this way of gaining happiness doesn’t create a long-lasting effect. Actually, it throws into the non-stop spinning wheel of endless chase for who we are not and what we do not have. Shouldn’t such an appetite have some limits?
Frustration about not being somehow or not having something invites negative emotions, creates obstacles, demotivates and holds one back from experiencing the joy of the present, the action and the life itself. Imagine constantly rushing to fulfill all the real and imaginative needs and goals, never being able to seize the running and spend some quality time with yourself, reflect on what you already are and have, have done, seen or experienced. Is it possible that such a marathon may truly satisfy? Does it spare enough time and energy necessary to really appreciate and be thankful for the life as it is now, admire and enjoy yourself and people you share your time with, all the talents and gifts you are awarded, all the managed and achieved so far?
The Stoic philosophy seems to offer some very valuable insight and tools to master and overcome the insatiability which is one of the greatest barriers to lead a good, healthy and meaningful life. Zeno of Citium (founder of Stoic school, Athens, ~300 BC), Epictetus, Cato, Seneca and many more realized that the true fulfillment arises through learning to want what one already has rather than wanting other things. The focus sets on the appreciation and gratefulness for the current reality. The key is to regularly bring yourself to now and here, reflect on the path that led to current situation, accept it and cultivate the desire for the present. Through such contemplation one nurtures the feeling of love for life, gains huge amount of tranquility and peace of mind. Furthermore, such an attitude towards life gives an opportunity to master the negative emotions, prepares for being undisturbed and unobstructed by unpleasant outcomes or situations.
Another valuable brick for building a long lasting and strong feeling of happiness is awareness of what could and what could not be done.
One may find oneself being anxious or stressed, having sorrow, guilt or regrets about things that are not in one’s power to change or somehow influence. The wisdom of Stoic approach offers to minimize and even eliminate such worries about present or future by devoted contemplation and separation of things into two categories: ‘I can change’ and ‘I cannot change’. The most powerful trick here is that one clearly sees that there is nothing to worry or be frustrated about: for whatever one can change, all one has to do about it is change it, whereas whatever lies beyond one’s power, it should be accepted as it is.