Don’t set your thoughts on things you don’t possess…but count the blessings you actually do possess and think how much you would desire them if they weren’t already yours. – Marcus Aurelius
The key word in the quote above is things. We buy spaces to live, we spend thousands and even millions on these spaces, and then we fill them up with stuff. What was once our dream home, our goal, can’t contain the amount of things we now own so we have to buy something bigger.
Things don’t matter.
The amount of things you possess nor the quality of those things. It’s all irrelevant.
Focus, however, not on the things you don’t own and want, the things a pal has or your peer at work just pulled up in, but on the things you do have.
I’m sitting in the office of my home right now. Two and a half years ago I didn’t think it were possible for me to buy a home. Then the idea was posed to me. I scrounged and saved for seven months, found a house that seemed too good for me, and bought it.
I’ve been in this wonderful home for a year and a half and I’m already thinking, dreaming, scheming about what I want next.
That’s how our minds work. We’re never satisfied, which can be a good thing when it comes to ambition, but not stuff.
Count the things you once dreamt about owning. I have a truck in my garage, a garage, a house, guns, a bow, all things I’ve wanted to own for years, and now that I have them I want newer, bigger, better.
Be in that place where you desired the things you now own and appreciate that you have them, that you’ve earned them.
Maybe that’s the key.
Appreciate where you are in comparison to where you were, and now get somewhere far greater.
Our life is what our thoughts make it. ~ Marcus Aurelius
Where do you let your mind take you when you wake up?
Are your thoughts about your work, your dream, your pursuit, or do they immediately follow and envious trail, one where you despise those doing what you wish you ‘could do’?
Are you thinking about the wonderful life you have – something that’s a matter of perspective and your perspective should lend you to agree with that statement – or do you think about what you wish you had?
Ambition is a great thing, necessary thing, it’s a man’s duty to be better than he was yesterday. To ignore what you have, both in talent, potential, and in those wonderful people that surround you, is ignorant. It is literally ignoring what’s right in front of you.
Our life is what our thoughts make it, thus, we can make our life into whatever we want it to be.
This is where the real power of this wisdom lies. You have control over your happiness, your level of purpose, meaning, value in life.
The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
An untroubled spirit is one that lacks guilt. That doesn’t come from being a sociopath, but from being a man who does good, honorable things with his time and lends his mind to learning and improving, not tearing others down in a quest to get to the top.
An untroubled spirit comes from simplicity. To be a simpleton is frowned upon. Blowhards who know many things look down on those who knew but a few things, even if that specialized knowledge aides other humans in a greater fashion than the blowhard’s diversified knowledge. Simplicity, however, is the key to productivity and happiness. It’s the path to a life devoid of stress and worry.
When you know what’s good and what’s bad, and that should be something very simple, black and white even, life becomes easy. All you then need are the balls to live life according to those decisions that are right.
It’s when you sell your soul, when you compromise your values for momentary pleasure or brief reward, you cannot possibly have an untroubled spirit.
Seeing things for what they are is simple, but difficult. We latent motivations, underlying aspirations, weaknesses, that lead us to see things not for what they are, but how we’d like them to be, whether that’s good or bad. We attach emotions to things that don’t need them, that are clouded by them.
We’re swayed by media that presents a story to fit their narrative. We’re influence by friends and foes and family that all want something for us or from us and what they show us, who they present themselves as is the cause of what they want.
We’re gullible, even to ourselves, our own faults and follies. Seeing things as they are takes calm where rage wants to win. It takes stoicism where emotion wants to dominate.
Both may be simple, but they’re far from easy. Yet, to live a flourishing life, a good life, a happy and successful life, we need both as our foundation.
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. ~ Marcus Aurelius
So much of our time is spent worrying about things we cannot control. We fret over our birth place, the money we were or weren’t born into, the ‘breaks’ we’ve gotten in life, the weather, and so forth, that we ignore what we can control.
You have complete control over your mind. Realizing this and using this control is power, it’s strength, it sets you apart from almost every human on the planet who’s stuck blaming someone or something for how their lives are going.
You have power to choose to see opportunity where others only see crisis. This is the greatest gift we can posses, and all it takes is awareness.
Take a notepad and a pen and spend a day writing about your thoughts. How do you think when someone cuts you off? What’s your reaction when you get an email from an unhappy customer? How do you think about your prospects in life?
Are you a slave to your desires? Do they determine how you act and who you are? Do they shape your mood and worldview? Do you let emotions prevent the opportunity for clarity?
You cannot control the weather, so why fret over it?
You cannot control where you were born, but you can control where you end up.
Spend time thinking about the things you can control, like your thoughts, your reactions to emotions and desires and be a man of strength rather than a victim to every whim that enters your brain.