“IF YOU ARE DISTRESSED BY ANYTHING EXTERNAL, THE PAIN IS NOT DUE TO THE THING ITSELF BUT YOUR OWN ESTIMATE OF IT; AND THIS YOU HAVE THE POWER TO REVOKE AT ANY MOMENT”
I don’t like it when people say that you are in control of everything.
The truth is, you are not. You might control yourself to a certain degree, but you cannot control the actions of others.
In fact, until you understand that 99% of life is outside your control, you will continue to torture yourself and suffer for nothing.
If a drunk driver hits you and sends you to the hospital, that is not within your control. Sure you can argue that you could have stayed locked up at home and never taken the car. Ok. But seriously. You cannot control external events.
The thing that you can control, and you must learn to control, is how you deal with those events.
Marcus Aurelius teaches us that the only thing that causes distress is our own interpretation of what is happening outside.
So next time something bad happens to you, stop yourself from reacting. Maybe you can make yourself some sort of physical cue, or put a reminder to yourself on your phone’s screensaver.
Take 1 minute to reflect and take a decision on how to react to that even.
Lately, when something bad happens to me, I put the timer on my watch for 5 minutes. I get super upset. I can cry I can yell I can bang my head against the wall for 5 minutes.
After the timer rings, I’m done.
I re-access, I journal, I make a plan, and I move on.
So your task for today is very simple:
Make yourself a cue, some sort of reminder that you have a choice in how you will react to events.
What happens is not always within your control, but you have the freedom to decide HOW you will interpret those events. Take power over how you react. This is indeed, the way of the stoic.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bite-size nugget of wisdom from one of our favorite teacher, Marcus Aurelius.