What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more. – Seneca and Aulus Gellius
What does that mean?
This is a quote about perspective. We all have something, even if it is only ourselves or our minds. Yes, I know, perhaps not. But that’s deeper into philosophy than I want to go in this blog.
The point is that no matter how much you have, your share is a tiny part of all that there is in the world. Then, if you consider the solar system or even in the galaxy, you start to see how small your hoard actually is.
This quote, I believe, is an admonishment of those who are busying themselves in the fruitless pursuit of even more. Yes, we need a certain amount of ‘stuff’ to meet our basic needs, and a bit more to be comfortable.
But at some point, it becomes a pursuit for no other reason than to pursue. If that makes you happy, and harms no others, I don’t see why you should stop. But if you are using it as a distraction from other issues, you probably should change your focus.
Why is pursuing what matters to you important?
So often we get caught up in a culturally sponsored pursuit. That might include the earning of a specific degree. It might be earning a million dollars. It might be publishing a book. It might be climbing to the top of the corporate ladder. It might be a house in a special neighborhood.
But is it what you want? What difference does it make if you are the CEO of a company, with a great house, millions in the bank, and a book deal pending, if you are not happy. If you aren’t pursuing what matters to you, what you feel is important and rewarding, what does it matter, these other things?
Yes, there are things you don’t enjoy doing which must be done. We also have responsibilities, after all. It’s not all fun and games, at least not all the time. But if you aren’t feeling any fulfillment in what you do, you need to think about what to do next.
You can continue as you have been, and hope it gets better, you can try to find something new which is of more interest, or you can try to bring a new perspective to what you are presently doing. Can you think of any other options? Feel free to leave a comment, if you do.
Where can I apply this in my life?
In the prior section I postulated that if you didn’t want to continue pursuing the same things what weren’t really making you feel fulfilled, you had two options. Specifically, I mentioned changing what you are doing as one option, and changing how you look at what you do for the other.
In reverse order, I offer my blog as an example. When I stared it, it was more a quirky idea, and writing was something I didn’t really enjoy. However, as I started getting positive feedback from others, I began to change I looked at blogging.
It went from being a pain to being something I looked forward to doing. The action and activity didn’t change, what I was doing didn’t change. But my attitude towards it did change. Blogging went from being a waste of time to an opportunity to help others. That’s a big difference, at least to me.
The other way to change your feeling of fulfillment is to pursue something that matters to you. You might not be able to make a living doing it (like this blog, for example), so you might have to keep your day job. However, you might be able to use your free time to pursue something else.
Some of my friends are in a band, others do crafts or jewelry as hobbies. They do it because it is something they enjoy. They are pursuing something that helps them feel fulfilled. They still have their day jobs to fulfill their responsibilities, but they have something else as well.
We will never have everything we could possibly want (except for those with tremendous control over their desires). There will always be more to have than we can attain. So take some time to consider what you are pursuing, what you are trying to get, have, or accumulate.
If it isn’t helping you feel fulfilled, if you aren’t happy, if it isn’t giving you satisfaction, why keep doing it? Can you find something else to do, or some other way to focus your energy?
Instead of grabbing a million bucks for yourself, perhaps you can work towards donating a million to your favorite charity. Doesn’t that instantly change your attitude and outlook?
Personally, I doubt I’ll ever manage to make that kind of money come together, for me or anyone else. But over time, who knows what I’ve donated. I don’t keep track, because to me, that part isn’t important.
What do you want to do, what will be fulfilling? What can you do to change what you do or how you focus on it?
From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Seneca_the_Elder#Misattributed 1st entry
Photo by Bill Harrison
Note, as Aulus Gellius lived roughly 80 years after Seneca (in this case, and his father, Seneca the Elder, over 100 years after), it is possible one of them did actually said it, and it was included in Aulus’ book. Who knows…
- 50 Ways To Live A More Fulfilling Life (lifehack.org)
- Never Settle: Why You Should Pursue Your Start-Up Now (elitedaily.com)
- Life goes on. (justmarsh.wordpress.com)
- 10 Steps to a Meaningful Life From a Man Who’s Found One (greatist.com)
- Learn – redo, remake, change, experiment, improvise, but don’t give up! (wiseslacker.com)