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Brain Food #798: On what was not there
Less can be more than enough to fill a lifetime
Thoughts of the day
Some months ago, during a particular plateau, I attempted gratitude journalling, though infrequently. There is something truly interesting and refreshing in the exercise of noticing things to be grateful for, particularly because we get used to things, and we tend to focus on the negative. Practicing gratitude has been scientifically proven to enhance our well-being.
But gratitude journalling doesn’t have to be a daily practice, which might also turn it into a chore and diminish its very purpose. That is where storytelling, and the act of looking back, become useful. One of the important parts of noticing the narrative of our lives is to pay attention to where we were before, and where we are today. Though we do not possess time machines, we have our memories, and the ability to think back.
If you go back to this very week, one year ago, what did you not have, what had not happened yet, that is present today? It could be a new pet, a new person in your life, a trip you finally had the chance to make to a new destination. It could be internal progress: feeling better about oneself, feeling more energetic, more determined, more knowledgeable, more accepting. It could be something new you started, like a new hobby, or a new practice. It could be something someone did for you, an unexpected act of kindness. It could be a book we read or a film you watched that had a significant impact on you. Or it could be a memory, or multiple memories, that weren’t there before, but you had the chance to create them.
On a week in which companies will try to create a desire in us to purchase things we don’t really need, a look at what is already there might provide a much-needed sense of perspective. Less can be more than enough to fill a lifetime.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ― Epicurus
“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.” — Marcus Aurelius
Artist Noah Verrier paints contemporary snacks, like the glass of milk and peanut butter and jam sandwich below. Through his work, he captures the comfort of the familiar, the ability of food to act like a time machine, even transporting us to the feeling of being a child, and the small pleasures we take for granted.
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