If you have anger issues, this one is a great tool, H/T mindyourbusiness:
Disclaimer: I’m not your Supervisor. These are my opinions after reading through these books a few times.
“How much more harmful are the consequences of anger and grief than the circumstances that aroused them in us!”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 11.18.8
Getting angry never helps the situation. I try to remind myself this fact. Sunday, I “fixed” the axle seal on my truck for the third time. As I tried to put the brake pads in, I realized I had put the caliper adapter on before the rotor. I could have gotten mad at myself and in the past I would have, but I laughed it off. Progress!
“In this way you must understand how laughable it is to say, ‘Tell me what to do!’ What advice could I possibly give? No, a far better request is, ‘Train my mind to adapt to any circumstance.’ . . . In this way, if circumstances take you off script . . . you won’t be desperate for a new prompting.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.2.20b–1; 24b–25a
Does following the Stoic principles tell me exactly what to do in every situation? No, but it gives me a framework to follow and a basic idea of what goal I should be trying to reach. When I was a squad leader I never tried to over plan any of our patrols or the checkpoints we set up. I always tried to leave wiggle room for the difference between what we were told to expect and what we actually found. It is the same way in life. Trying to follow a plan too strictly can cause unnecessary stress when life alters things outside of my control.
“Don’t you know life is like a military campaign? One must serve on watch, another in reconnaissance, another on the front line. . . . So it is for us—each person’s life is a kind of battle, and a long
and varied one too. You must keep watch like a soldier and do everything commanded. . . . You have been stationed in a key post, not some lowly place, and not for a short time but for life.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.24.31–36
Today is my day to battle. Yesterday I had a mild flu and still felt a little weak today, but had no symptoms. At the gym, after killing myself with back and biceps followed by an ab routine, I thought “damn, getting old sucks”. Then I thought “there are two ways to get old, fight every step of the way, or get lazy and hate myself when I get out of breath walking up stairs”. I choose the first option, regardless of the setbacks I will encounter.
“Every event has two handles—one by which it can be carried, and one by which it can’t. If your brother does you wrong, don’t grab it by his wronging, because this is the handle incapable of lifting it. Instead, use the other—that he is your brother, that you were raised together, and then you will have hold of the handle that carries.”
—EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 43
It is up to me how I react to situations. I can choose to get angry at my mother for being a covid true believer. I usually do, but I can also choose to ignore that and focus on other aspects of our conversations. I am working on that, but am not there yet.
“To the youngster talking nonsense Zeno said, ‘The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is so we might listen more and talk less.’”
—DIOGENES LAERTIUS, LIVES OF EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS, 7.1.23
I am not a big talker, sometimes to the chagrin of my wife. I usually learn more about other people by letting them do most of the talking. This isn’t always a good strategy, one of my wife’s friends was convinced I hated her because I didn’t talk much. Apparently me telling her “this is me happy” when she asked if I had a bad day meant I was lying. I don’t understand most people.
“Don’t be ashamed of needing help. You have a duty to fulfill just like a soldier on the wall of battle. So what if you are injured and can’t climb up without another soldier’s help?”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 7.7
I struggle with this one. When I had ankle surgery in 2014, it would bother me that people would wait and hold the door for me. Likewise, it bothered me after my surgery and hospitalization in Dec last year that my wife had to do everything for me. I understand that is part of life and am glad she is there for me, but I still hate to be in that situation.
“Fortune doesn’t have the long reach we suppose, she can only lay siege to those who hold her tight. So, let’s step back from her as much as possible.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 82.5b–6
Is being rich necessary to have happiness? Should monetary concerns outweigh any others? I admit having money is a lot nicer than not having it, but it is not the foundation my life was built on. I know people that waited to get married and have kids until they were financially prepared. I got married at 22 and although we were really poor for years, we have a much longer and richer history together than if I would have waited until we were “ready”.
Music this week is from Killswitch Engage. They are the only opening act for Slayer that made an impression on me. I had not heard of them before that concert and they put on a hell of a show. A few years later I saw them open for Slayer again and they still kicked ass.