The things you really need are few and easy to come by; but the things you can imagine you need are infinite, and you will never be satisfied. –Epicurus
I already addressed this theme last week. I haven’t all that much to add, except to say that this is why I try to stay off Amazon these days.
It’s funny how you can go through your entire day, never realizing that you “need” something until you see an advertisement of some kind. Even if it’s only a beautiful display. The easiest way to keep from stirring up my own avarice is to not go where I know I will be tempted.
And this seems to apply to so much more than just the acquisition of material goods (material bads?). For instance, I am supposed to be keeping to a strict ketogenic diet incorporating intermittent fasting, to treat my diabetes. Normally, it is not overly difficult to stick to. But if I happen to be near a bakery, or a favorite restaurant, when I’m tired or hungry, it becomes extremely difficult.
My own self-control has limited reserves of energy, so often, the easiest thing to do is to simply not place myself in such dangerous situations. Additionally, being in a low place emotionally also adds to the danger, because it leads me to dwell on what might comfort me in the short term rather than what is best for my health, long term.
I am finally taking my first steps on my journey of “Epicurean Stoicism” (which makes about as much sense as “Zen Taoism”) in my fifties. And I am trying to develop healthier coping mechanisms for such situations toward which my greed might lead me. Enumerating in my head that which I already have, and cultivate gratitude for it. And journaling is a part of this process, as I seek to conform as closely as I can to my inner Daimon.
That said, there are still things I want, but don’t have. What do I do? I try not to dwell on them. I try to practice Ch’an detachment. And for some things, I try to practice Daoist patience. Or should that be Stoic patience? For example, I want a new computer, for work and play. But I already have such a machine; it is at home at my kid brother’s house, waiting for me. But, I must exercise patience until I can get home for a visit. Patience. Patience and forbearance.
And if the opportunity never comes? Well– I am alive, and I have shelter, food, clothing, water, medical care, and a job. Can I really complain?