The Stoic Road to Peace of Mind
If you are like most people, you probably feel angry, frustrated, or
disappointed, often. That’s also has naturally been the case for me, but I
was told a trick that made it much easier for me to handle these situations,
and it dates back to antiquity.
Stoicism was an ancient
Greek school of thought (that still exercises some influence today), which
among other teachings, advocated self-control and avoiding making your
emotions and irrational desires influence your behaviour for the worst. What
was that painful feelings were not a direct result of an experience that
induced pain, but rather the human mind's irrational interpretation of it.
If we move from this theory to its implications, then once something
frustrating happens to you, you can say to yourself “I don’t like this.
This situation is not ideal. However, feeling angry and resentful will
not be beneficial, and so I should just accept this as is, try to reasonably
cope with it, and make the best of it. I might even grow to like it.”
My psychotherapist told me that “Things must always go my way.” has been
identified as an irrational cognitive belief by many people.
(It is mentioned in
this page in the Google Books’ hosted book).
The solution to this is simply to say to myself that “I cannot always get
what I want.” and that “Things might not go exactly like I want them to and
that’s OK because I’ll survive.”.
Back to Stoicism, we can draw inspiration from the Roman Emperor and
quote from his book Meditations:
Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful,
violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have
come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be
harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be
angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work
I am not an authority to speak a lot further about Stoicism, because I’ve only
heard about it from hearsay and read the wikipedia entry and some other online
sources, but I think we can all become a little, or even a lot happier, by
adopting the mindset that the key to peace of mind is accepting sub-optimal
situations, instead of insisting that we will always have our way.
Thanks to steerpike, mofino and perlmonkey from
Freenode for going over early drafts of
this essay and providing some comments.
This work is licensed under the
Commons Attribution 3.0 License (Unported) (CC-by) or at your option
any later version. Copyright © 2012, Shlomi Fish. CC-by is a common,
permissive, free/libre/open licence for cultural works, which allows for
almost unlimited use. See
my interpretation and
expectations from people who wish to build upon it (which I believe
are pretty fair).
I realise I’ve neglected this blog for a long time, and I’ve been meaning
to write and publish this entry for a long time, but didn’t, but I guess
“better late than never”, right? Personally, I’ve been mostly fine recently
having found a part-time job, which involves a short bus ride to the office
in the downtown city, so it’s at a great location for me. I also enjoyed
attending the latest Israeli Perl Workshop for 2012
written a report about it.
In the meanwhile, livejournal.com’s handling of this blog’s
domains has deteriorated, and now just redirects it to
shlomifish.livejournal.com. This probably made me even less motivated to post
on this blog, and my reports about it appears to have been marked as
duplicate without a proper resolution, but I'll try to get it handled and
fixed. If not, I might have to investigate other hosted blog solutions.
There’s a lot more going on with my life, but I’m not sure how much it will
interest other people and how much I should share it, but I’m fine and happy
and have plenty of free time for work and leisure and whatever is in between.
So good bye until next time.
Syndicated 2012-03-31 08:57:58 from shlomif