I suspect I’m not a very good stoic. I’m too loud and excitable.
However, I do find much of stoicism’s ideas useful. That’s because I suggest:
- We see our reality, first and foremost.
- We start small so we can get feedback.
- Practice asking for help.
- Build a support system.
All of those ideas help us move forward from where we are.
I try to use the past as learning—but not to stay stuck in the past.
Here’s what I like about stoicism:
- Don’t bother asking why some event occurred. Unless you might use that reason to prevent it from occurring again. For example, I don’t ask why I had an inner ear hemorrhage. Those events are rare and I couldn’t have prevented it. Nor could I prevent it in the future.
- Remove much of the drama in daily living. (I can aspire to this. However, I am a drama queen.)
- Use the idea of practice, doing better every day, to create a new reality.
For several reasons, I am not a very good stoic:
- When I feel something, it’s on my face. I do not have a poker face. Why not embrace this? (I do!)
- I try to create joy and react to it. Why not rejoice in the wonderful times and manage the horrible times?
- I don’t suffer through pain, especially when I think I can fix the pain. Especially If I can ask for help from others.
- No one would ever call me patient. Under any circumstances. However, even I realize that using my patience can be a tool when I choose my reactions.
The more patience I can exert, the more likely I am to choose better actions and reactions.
Drama—high emotion—is not bad. As with almost everything, it’s how we react to our emotions.
How Do You Choose to React?
Virginia Satir said:
“Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.”
How do we choose to cope?
- We might react quickly, as in remove our hand from a hot stove. And, I might need to ice my hand.
- Now we can choose what to do next. This is why I like the Rule of Three to create alternative solutions. Do I need to mistake-proof my surroundings?
- I can then use my ideas: how to start small, get feedback, ask for help, etc. I can decide when to choose again.
Notice that the first step is how we react to the immediate concern.
The hot stove is an easy example. How we change our lives as we ease out of the pandemic? Wow, that’s not easy at all.
What’s our reality? The pandemic is still very much with us. I continue to wear a mask outside of the house, and avoid socializing with people outside my home. You might not share my choices.
Next, I look forward to the vaccine. Even if you don’t share my actions, I do hope you take the vaccine, when it’s your turn. (Assuming you are able to take the vaccine.)
Finally, I look forward to how we can reimagine work and living once enough of us have taken the vaccine. I’m not sure what we will see. I am sure we will need to think about our reactions.
That’s where stoicism thinking might help us:
- Where are we, in the here and now?
- What are our choices, short-term and longer-term?
- How can we create a better reality, given where we are and our current choices?
- When do we use our patience, and when do use our impatience for our next steps?
That’s the question this week: How much stoicism makes sense for you?