Steer Your Mind
Our Life is What our Thoughts Make It
Marcus Aurelius, 121AD- 180AD
I recently began practicing stoicism—not to become an emotionless person, but to minimize negative emotions. Its antifragile or toughness-training. Even though the Stoics wrote their philosophy over 2,000 years ago–their wisdom is so relevant to our modern life. Who among us does not want to be less reactive? We can learn from the Stoics how to stay calm even with significant setbacks. One way the they practiced emotional agility was to frame any situation by acquiring an internal locus of control. Seneca wrote, “Man is affected not by events but by the view he takes of them.” This means that we can decide to not be reactive to those things that are outside of our control and to live some of these key stoic principles:
- Don’t outsource your happiness
- Live intentionally/limit distractions
- Nothing endures- none of us lasts forever
Since I’ve been reading/practicing Stoicism, my time is guarded more fiercely while being aware that we are only here for a short time. Being overly optimistic can invite passivity so the Stoics suggest imagining the worst that could happen as the best way to prepare for success and be ready for failure. It has been undeniably helpful to my well-being to practice not letting external events affect my internal state of mind. Here’s to guarding your internal state!
Hi, I’ve been doing this very same thing recently! When ever I feel I’m being emotionally drawn into something or someone, especially if it doesn’t feel good, I say to myself:STOP! take a step back. I don;t have to do this. I have choices. How can I look at this situation/person? What would I like to achieve with it (e.g. it goes away; it leaves me untouched; it turns into a positive, etc) then I think: what can I do now to make that happen? Is it achievable? Will it give the desired outcome? And then I do it. The results are amazing. I have on occasion used empathy toward someone who was pushing my buttons and they opened up and became responsive instead of aggressive. It led to them self reflecting actually. Also humour has made things move into a complete different direction. I do have think outside of hte box but I think that is good brain training for me. It is really a matter of reframing.
I very much like your idea of not outsourcing your happiness! That is a new formulation for me and I like it. I reckon a lot of people in shitty relationships should give that some thought….
Hi Helga Yes not outsourcing your happiness, to me means not having it hooked to outside events I cant control so being content with what is…and paying attention to what i let in.. loving what seizes my imagination, what I do w my evenings, how I spend weekends, what I read, who I hang with, what amazes me – this is what decides happiness.
Also, check the book, “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, which helps us set boundaries on the demands others make on our time.