Wednesday Wisdom: Wanting what you have trumps having what you want…

“It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.” – Diogenes the Cynic

Diogenes the Cynic famously lived in a barrel on the street, and when asked by Alexander the Great what he wanted in life, Diogenes apparently requested only that Alexander move to the side as he was blocking the sun.

What can be possibly be learned from a man who lived in a barrel (apparently quite contentedly)?

Many things – little about personal hygenie I would imagine – but this most importantly of all: We should always be wary of the fact that material attachment is a potential path to disappointment, upset and ultimately, self-debasement.


Because in order to achieve or attain the thing we want we often merrily sacrifice what we already have.

How many people have neglected their loving children so they can go and get drunk with their fair-weather friends?

How many people have worked late every night in a job they will one day leave only for their neglected spouse to one day leave them?

How many people have worked exclusively for a promotion, sacrificing their peace of mind, time, energy and passion, only for the pressures of the new role to make them want to quit?

How often have you sacrificed the precious things you already have for the imaginary things you probably shouldn’t want? And how often has that actually helped you be “happy”?

Maybe if we stopped trying to have everything we supposedly wanted and started focussing more on wanting the things we already have, we could come to the simple truth: we already have everything that we need.

Inspired by a quote I read in this excellent source of daily wisdom:

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living: Featuring new translations of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius

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