The fact that every situation, mood, and even the feeling of permanence itself is always suspect to withering away.
Nothing lasts forever.
There is a proverb in which Solomon wants to humble his minister.
In this story, Solomon orders his minister to find a “magic” ring that has the ability to turn a happy man sad and a sad man happy; Solomon of course knew there is no ring that wielded such a godly power.
Months go by and Solomon’s minister is still in search for the ring.
One day, he stumbles upon a merchant. He decides to try his luck and describes the ring to this man.
The merchant glances at a gold ring he owns and puts an engraving onto it. The minister pays the merchant with a huge smile on his face as he reads the engraving, believing he had finally completed his task.
Upon returning, Solomon amusedly asks for the ring. Of course, when the minister reveals a gold ring, everyone present was curious.
The smile from King Solomon quickly faded as he held the ring in his palm and read the engraving, “This too shall pass.”
This very phrase shook Solomon’s core and made him realize that even with all his wealth, power, and wisdom, they were all slowly fleeting away until he is nothing but a corpse. He had lost his disillusioned sense of permanence.
This story reminds you that nothing lasts forever and that you should learn to never take things for granted.
So how do you learn to appreciate what you currently have?
Live in the Present Moment
One of the easiest ways is to stay in the present even when you don’t want to. Stop time traveling back and forth between past and future. There’s no point in dwelling on the regrets and missed opportunities of the past, nor is there time to worry about how things could go wrong in the future.
When you accept that you are constantly in the present, you can begin to appreciate the small things in your life because things could be a lot worse.
Begin to really notice your surroundings because maybe in the future you may move somewhere not as beautiful or even worse than where you are now.
Listen to your friends when they talk. You’re lucky to have them in your life and you should be present for them because they deserve your full attention. One day may come in which circumstances tear you from your current luxuries.
Want What You Have
This is an idea that Stoicism teaches. To truly enjoy life and not take things for granted, Stoics teach to desire what you already have, truly eradicating all desires for more.
When you practice wanting what you already have, you don’t take your current pleasures for granted anymore because you are aware of how lucky you are. Even if you aren’t living large in a mansion with a huge paycheck, you can still consciously practice this. It is difficult to take anything for granted when you are thankful everyday.
You may practice a technique the Stoics call “negative visualization.” Envision the worst-case scenario in regards to what you have.
Truly imagine in your mind the idea of losing your loved ones, being homeless, and being ripped away from the comfort of life’s luxuries. Do this routinely and you will suddenly feel a sense of happiness when you realize you have more than enough.
Karma teaches that everything is a cycle in which you give and receive back what you put into it. Live life like this regardless of whether or not you believe in the concept of karma.
Actively trying to help others and bettering their lives makes you see beyond yourself. Maybe you won’t see the results of your goodwill immediately, but you’ll feel like life has much more to offer than material belongings.
Remind others who are down that “this too shall pass,” absolving them of their current struggles, while simultaneously reminding yourself that life is fleeting, so do well by others.
Seize the day. Understand that nothing is ever permanent and internalize that message. Live every day like it’s your last and you won’t undervalue life because you know that any day you can lose it all.
You can’t take all of life’s gifts with you when you pass on from this world, so live each and every day to the fullest.
Don’t let the idea of life’s impermanence bring you down. It is a beautiful thing to be reminded of because it allows for you to live life without taking anything for granted.
Go out and get a poster, draw “This too shall pass” onto it. Look at it every day and cherish what you have.
You can start practicing the Stoic’s methods of negative visualization and one day you’ll become your ideal self.
You’ll become the rare individual that takes nothing for granted.
Feel free to leave comments below on how you remind yourself to cherish life. It’s a beautiful thing and we all love it.
|Written on 2/22/2013 by Vincent Nguyen. Vincent Nguyen is the author of self-improvement blog Self Stairway. Teaching that self-improvement is done through constant self-reflection, Vincent often draws through anecdotal experience to tie into his life lessons. Currently an aspiring PR Specialist, he wants to aid those seeking the tools to live a better, conscious life. Feel free to follow Self Stairway on Twitter.|