Thoughts, Stories, Action Newsletter: Ponder new ideas, learn through stories, then walk the walk.

Don't Spoil What You Have By Desiring What You Have Not

July 12, 2020
Jason Gutierrez


“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


Four years ago I lived in Washington DC driving for Uber and Lyft, selling insurance, and freelance writing just to slow the rate that I was hemorrhaging money. By this time of the year (i.e. July), I had depleted my initial savings, was rapidly nearing the bottom of my 401(k), and still had another few thousand dollars of credit card debt to-go before the bleeding would stop.

The cause of this wound was none other than my own foolish actions. I had left my comfortable engineering career to pursue life as a blogger — a venture that, at least in the short term, proved to be an epic failure. As a result, I spent nearly a year navigating the world in a state of financial uncertainty.

DC is hardly the place you want to live if strapped for cash. That year I found out the hard way the toll that financial stress can take. During the last few months of my time there, all I wished for was another comfortable job sitting behind a desk and not having to worry about health insurance.

The reason I tell you this story isn’t to try and make you feel sorry for my dumb ass. It’s actually to remind myself that the thing I now possess and take for granted — a job — was once all I could ever dream of.

And we’re all guilty of this line of thinking way more than we should be.

When you’re sick, you want nothing more than to be healthy again. But once you return to normal, it’s right back to “the grind” and sacrificing your sleep and your health in the name of bigger and better.

So when I find myself hating on my job on a day like today, I do my best to stop and think about how stressful my life was four short years ago, and how I wanted nothing more than a 9 to 5.

Because in the end, Epicurus was right. The things that we possess or that which we’ve already achieved were once just a pipe dream. We fought for them. We earned them. And then we cast them aside. Somewhere along the way we got too caught up chasing the next shiny object to appreciate what’s become our new normal.

Jason from four years ago has everything he ever wanted. And Jason of the present is just being a brat about it.


1. Take 1 to 2 minutes of your day to write down or say something you’re grateful for. Try to think of something that you have achieved or now possess that you didn’t have a few short years ago. Sometimes a little perspective makes all the difference.



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