You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone (#175)

The “chasing things to get happy” strategy is a meaningless one. Desire always creeps up yet again and you start with another void to fill every time the last thing you filled it with no longer gives you the zeal it did when you first wanted to get it or at the exact moment you did get it.

How good it would be if we could learn to want the things we already have and to love the life we happen to be living instead of never-endingly jogging on the hedonic treadmill.


It’s ironic how casually we expect consistency from the most important things in our lives. This expectation then begins to take even those most important things for granted.

Not many think their parents might leave them from life anytime soon. They know they’re going to be there tomorrow. And most are busy anyway, so they’ll catch up with their parents later, right?

Yet the same neglect haunts later as regret when they’re gone and you’d give anything just to talk with them once more.

You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone. The worth is realized when it is taken away. When the assumption that it was always going to be there is shattered. When pain from association with that which was once always here and now is no more is felt. You realize what you had but now its gone.

This is powerful. The possessed are taken for granted and the same possessions now lost are mourned over.


Negative visualization is imagining your life worse than it is in the hopes of realizing how great your life already is.

This stoic technique fills that want of new things with a desire of those you already have. It reveals their deeper worth after you imagine life without them and that causes the shift in perspective. You start not to take the most important things in your life for granted anymore.

Just like the rough bland piece of bread starts to taste sweet when swallowed down the throat of a starved man’s stomach, when perspective changes upon negative visualization, the regular tastes sweeter.

In reality, most of us are already living the dream life. We just forget to see it when yet another superficial dream clouds our vision.

With seeing how bad things can go, a realization dawns on the amazing circumstances of the present.

You don’t dwell on such things. You instead allow yourself to have a flickering thought about the loss and then return to life as usual. As a result of the visualization you will find yourself appreciating and even embracing things that you previously took for granted.

Try it.

Imagine something of grave importance to you (perhaps something you don’t appreciate as much as its worth due to the rush of everyday life). Consider it being snatched away from you. Imagine what it would be like living without it. Maybe you visualize getting a call from the police about your daughter getting caught up in an accident. Perhaps you see yourself being diagnosed with a fatal sickness that puts an end to your career.

Now come back to present life. You might produce a deeper sense of affection for your daughter or more passion to work towards your next professional goal with this exercise. It puts things in perspective. Losing or experiencing any of these would be immensely painful. But we don’t give it as much importance in the day-to-day matters. A flickering moment of losing these objects throughout times of everyday business might as well fill that yet another pointless want with that which you already have.

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