If you have anger issues, this one is a great tool (h/t mindyourbusiness)
“Yes, getting your wish would have been so nice. But isn’t that exactly why pleasure trips us up? Instead, see if these things might be even nicer—a great soul, freedom, honesty, kindness, saintliness. For there is nothing so pleasing as wisdom itself, when you consider how sure-footed and effortless the works of
understanding and knowledge are.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 5.9
I used to wish to be a famous heavy metal singer, in my younger days I could do a decent Geoff Tate/Bruce Dickinson. I also used to wish my high school girlfriend would marry me. Neither of these wishes came true. If they had, my life would have been completely different. Would it have been better? I never wished to be a better person or have more self control. If I had and those wishes came true, I think my life would have been improved.
“When the standards have been set, things are tested and weighed. And the work of philosophy is just this, to examine and uphold the standards, but the work of a truly good person is in using those standards when they know them.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.11.23–25
I have high standards for the people I let into my life. I learned fairly early that hanging out with people you can’t trust is a recipe for disaster. I also have standards for what I listen to or read. Same as with friends, trusting the wrong information can be disastrous. I am learning to have higher standards for my own mentality and behavior, using Stoicism as a backdrop to identify my shortcomings and improve them.
“Leave the past behind, let the grand design take care of the future, and instead only rightly guide the present to reverence and justice. Reverence so that you’ll love what you’ve been allotted, for nature
brought you both to each other. Justice so that you’ll speak the truth freely and without evasion, and so that you’ll act only as the law and value of things require.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 12.1
It is important to not let mistakes from the past ruin my future. It is also important not to let past success ruin what I accomplish today because they seem so small compared to what I used to be able to do. I can learn from the past without it tying me to certain behaviors or preventing me from improving myself.
“How rotten and fraudulent when people say they intend to ‘give it to you straight.’ What are you up to, dear friend? It shouldn’t need your announcement, but be readily seen, as if written on your forehead, heard in the ring of your voice, a flash in your eyes—just as the beloved sees it all in the lover’s glance. In short, the straightforward and good person should be like a smelly goat—you know when they are in the room with you.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 11.15
I try to never say “I’ll be honest with you”. To me that has always sounded insincere. I try to always be honest and as a result I am a horrible liar. Even when I am trying to keep a secret from my wife as a surprise, she knows something is going on. I know I have a reputation for being direct and honest even if it is not a pleasant truth. My mother has said she knows not to ask me a question if she thinks she won’t like the answer. I do not go out of my way to be outspoken, but if I get asked a question, I’m going to answer honestly.
“Hecato says, ‘I can teach you a love potion made without any drugs, herbs, or special spell—if you would be loved, love.’”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 9.6
I don’t have much for this one. I understand that if you aren’t happy with yourself, you won’t find someone who is happy with you. On the other hand, just because you love someone does not automatically mean they will love you back. From the Stoic point of not getting upset about things you can’t control, maybe he is saying to love who you want, but if that feeling is not reciprocated, you should not get upset and be happy you tried to love someone and learn from the experience, even if it didn’t work out.
“The best way to avenge yourself is to not be like that.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 6.6
“How much better to heal than seek revenge from injury. Vengeance wastes a lot of time and exposes you to many more injuries than the first that sparked it. Anger always outlasts hurt. Best to take the opposite course. Would anyone think it normal to return a kick to a mule or a bite to a dog?”
—SENECA, ON ANGER, 3.27.2
I have been wronged by other people before. If I had gone out of my way to “get even” I would have caused more problems for myself, even if I did get my revenge. This applies to the time one of my co-workers screwed up and tried to blame me, so there was an investigation. I knew I had done nothing wrong, but was still stressed out and had trouble sleeping while this was happening. If I had done something to them, it would have made their case stronger. It also applies to driving in traffic and having someone refuse to let me change lanes by speeding up to get beside me when I put the signal on. If I tried to get back at them by racing around them to get in front, I severely raise my odds of being in an accident. Instead I shook my head and said to myself, “I hate people”.
“Are you angry when someone’s armpits stink or when their breath is bad? What would be the point? Having such a mouth and such armpits, there’s going to be a smell emanating. You say, they must have sense, can’t they tell how they are offending others? Well, you have sense too, congratulations! So, use your natural reason to awaken theirs, show them, call it out. If the person will listen, you will have cured them without useless anger. No drama nor unseemly show required.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 5.28
I still get angry at other people’s stupidity. I try to remain calm, but usually fail badly when it comes to mask true believers. Even if I can control the anger in my voice, I’m not sure this one works on the person you are talking to, showing them where they are wrong. I do like how he compares a natural odor problem to a natural ignorance problem. I don’t think most people can admit they were wrong and can bring out faulty data to prove their point. I do think it can have some influence on the other people around if they see you are honest and can reasonably explain why.
Music today is the late great Loretta Lynn.
This song always makes me smile
She was such a natural entertainer
This one’s not my favorite, but it was her best known song, and I appreciate that she was able to rhyme “hard” and “tired”