Something Worth Considering
Much grief and despair that humans experience is due to some loss in our lives. We lose someone or something and we feel pain because of this. We become attached to certain relationships and possessions. When we lose what we are attached to, immense pain occurs. Pain is a natural part of life and there is no way to eliminate completely from our lives. However, I think that it’s worth considering that when it comes to loss, it would serve us well to remember that we don’t actually own anything in this life except our own body and mind, and even those can be taken from us. Therefore, becoming too attached to people and things is actually a cause for pain that can be reduced when we realize that everything we perceive that we have in life is actually on loan to us. Circumstances outside our control can take these things away at any time without warning. Indeed our very lives are just on loan to us by nature, the universe, God, whatever term you prefer. Like a car at the end of the lease, we will have to turn ourselves back in to the dealership.
Should we walk around dwelling on the fact that we truly own nothing in this life? I don’t believe that is the best way to live. Instead, I think that quietly recognizing the fact that we don’t really have control over anything except our own mind and actions can help us actually reduce the pain we feel when we lose something or someone. The Stoics referred to this practice as negative visualization—by contemplating the reality that we will eventually lose everything and everyone in our lives, we can prepare ourselves and reduce the sting of the loss when it occurs. The practice can also lead to a greater appreciation for the people and things in our lives. Because nothing lasts forever, we can learn to take nothing for granted and appreciate all we have just a little more. The pain of loss can also be lessened just by remembering that we were lucky to have been blessed with certain people and things in the first place. Eventually, we will lose everything, including our own existence, so we should actually learn to enjoy what we have a little more.
Again, nothing can ever stop the feelings of pain, nor the grief associated with loss. But we can learn to reduce that pain by practicing negative visualization. The real key to satisfaction is wanting and enjoying what you already have, not in yearning for something else. Remembering that everything is temporary, we can learn to enjoy our time living. Life is beautiful exactly because it is temporary. So treat people a little better, appreciate your relationships a little more, and enjoy material things without becoming too attached to any of them. Attachment leads to unnecessary pain because loss is inevitable. Enjoyment without attachment, that’s the simple formula for fulfillment. Just remember this, what is simple is not always easy!