Stoic Week Image


It isn’t the things themselves that disturb people, but the judgements that they form about them. Death, for instance, is nothing terrible, or else it would have seemed so to Socrates too; no, it is in the judgement that death is terrible that the terror lies. Accordingly, whenever we are impeded, disturbed or distressed, we should never blame anyone else but only ourselves, that is, our judgements. It is an act of a poorly educated person to blame others when things are going badly for him; one who has taken the first step towards being properly educated blames himself, while one who is fully educated blames neither anyone else nor himself. – Epictetus, Handbook, 5

This concept is something in my Stoicism that has made a profound change in my life. If you’re ever upset, it’s your fault. Marcus says something similar that goes to the effect of, “Today I escaped anxiety…no, I discarded it. And yeah, that’s it. You’re going to get upset at people and things (ever hit your head on the fridge, I sometimes things that’s more of a challenge), and I think that’s natural. But the thing is that you can escape that frustration, you can discard it. And Marcus makes it sounds really easy doesn’t he, that’s what I used to think too. But when you pin how you feel on you, and stop being a coward and pinning how you feel on others…I think you realize it’s just a matter letting it go.

Or, at least converting it into something good. Stoics get put into some repressive emotional camp because of this, but most of the time the emotion doesn’t just go away. And sure, your attitude about it has shifted from them to me, but if you can’t get ride of the emotion, all you have to do is convert that emotion into something good, both for you and the situation.

Yeah….let me be clear. The emotion of being pissed, bothered, angry at the fridge doesn’t just go away all the time. Instead you simply stop fighting the fridge and fighting yourself. Then it’s finally all up to you to change it around. Escape it, discard it, or convert it into positive actions like getting a new fridge.

I think you also have to believe that, indeed, how you feel, is up to you, which takes practice. I’m not sure if it’s hearing Marcus or Epictetus repeat it over and over and over, but let’s think about this logically: If I were dead, I wouldn’t be upset, right? Pretty definitive if you ask me.

If I’m upset, it’s all me…

It's not you it's me by George Castanza.

I did not feel well this evening, and skipped these. I may make these up later this weekend.