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Learn to Want What you Already Have

The headline above is one of the important ideas in Stoicism. If you can convince yourself you want what you already have, what a joy that will be – to be able to cease striving for more, because you already have what you want.

You won’t be striving for unattainable things, and this can bring you joy. Then you will be grateful for things in your life. Further to that, if you set yourself to imaging the things you don’t have, focusing on the negative things, such as not having sight, then realising the wonders that sight bring to you may feel even more wondrous!

If you wish for unattainable things, you will never be happy, and if you never celebrate all your victories, no matter how minor, you may never feel successful, and die a lonely life with feelings only of failure. Celebrate life, live a moderate life, with no gluttony and enjoy everything you can, without going over the top with anything.

Nature moderates excess by having trees drop branches if the tree is overloaded.\

Gluttony in most things can lead to discomfort, at the least, and serious health issues, and even death, at the most. Who wishes to bring death upon themselves, for an hour or so of excess, when the moderate life can give joy and comfortable living?

I want a life of happy moderation, enough food but never too much, moderate wealth but not a burdensome amount, and having my talents recognised but not mindless adulation. Love from those I love back, honesty but not nastiness with it, and gratitude for what I may have done but without cloying overthanking.

As a good dog is happy to share their life with us, in peace and honestly, so a good Stoic can live their life with others, peacefully and honestly, showing love to those who deserve it, but unlike the hound, realise the famine is unlikely to come, and so there is no need to overeat just in case it comes.

Missy enjoying her quiet life

Missy knows how to live a good and moderate life, resting much, and enjoying the quiet pleasures in her life! Going outside to be with Nature, looking to the sky to see the birds, but, being canine and not a Stoic human, she will eat to excess if she gets the chance to. It is up to us humans, who love and care about her, to ensure she enjoys her food in moderate ways.

“You Don’t Make Friends With Salad”

Those words came from the famous Homer Simpson, of the well known animated comedy The Simpsons. If you are a fan of the Simpsons, you probably remember the words and the episode they occurred in, and even if you’re not a fan, you may well have heard the phrase.

  • This is Lahde, a dear friend, now gone, and he sure liked salad!

I can’t remember Homer’s point, with this curious proclamation, and it’s not one I necessarily agree with. I can certainly imagine a friendship that could begin with salad. Friendships are curious things, that can happen when you meet someone, and just ‘click’, feeling that finally here is a person who ‘gets’ you.

Another famous person, the philosopher Seneca, over two thousand years ago, said this about friendship:
“Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve.”

I’d never heard or read this thought, until earlier today. I have been thinking about Facebook and friendship off and on for quite a long time, really. I have real ‘see often’ friends who are also Facebook friends, and I have ‘see often’ real friends who aren’t on Facebook. I have a ridiculously large number of Facebook Friends, some of whom I don’t even remember ‘Friending’ in the first place.

I delete these occasionally, when I am having clear out in the interest of hmm, I don’t know what. Greater clarity? I’m not sure. On Facebook, the majority of my not actually true friends, FB Friends, are usually writers, or friends of friends. With some of those friends, I keep them as Friends, for the former reason, as stated by Seneca. I associate with them. These are people who have interesting things to say, or who may help to make me a better person, in some way.

The concept of being able to ‘improve’ a person is a curious one, because I’m not sure knowing me will ‘improve’ all others, but I certainly welcome into my friendship group, people who are interested in the things I’m interested in, writing, mostly. I have many writing related friends, and I welcome these are real friends, on the basis that we can actually ‘improve’ each other through our ideas, and connections.

Seneca’s words seem very sterile to me, and word has it that the man was quite the party goer, so I wonder how much improving was going on? I have no way of really knowing that, without a lot more research. Anyway, I certainly know that true friendships are far from sterile things. I have many friends I care deeply about, and love to catch up with them for coffee, chats, and hugs!

Social media opens up the entire world of possible friends, and FB Friends, as well as those on Twitter we follow and who follow us. We may never meet many of these people, but we may both, be made better by knowing them, and we may improve them. This friendship thing is truly a mixed up thing, and as I’ve seen in the past, it can go very wrong, very quickly.

But true friendships, such as the one I have with my husband, who I consider as my second best friend, these kinds of deeply committed friendships can withstand much, and still stay strong. I have been married to my husband for 33 years, and we’ve seen each other at our best, and at our worst. We both realise the importance of give and take …

Why second best friend. you may wonder, why not best friend, if our relationship is so strong? Well this is another thing – I consider myself to be my best friend. I care deeply about myself, and my best interests are an important focus of my life. I definitely believe that loving and caring about yourself helps you to become the kind of person who attracts good and caring people to your friendship group.

And yes, dogs have been great friends to me too, over the years. The dog in the photo above, Lahde, is the big brother of our current dog, Missy. Sharing our lives with dogs can show us how open and honest friendships can be. Dogs will come to you for food, yes, but they are also happy to just hang out with you, sharing your days, with no pressure, just casual ‘hanging around’ the way your best human friends can too.

So that’s it – some of my thoughts about friends. They can be tricky, they can be global, they can be in your face, and they can go wrong, but a true friend is one of the best, if not the best, thing to have in the world! Treasure your friends, they are priceless!