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Monday, October 3, 2011

Looking Through Rose Coloured Glasses...

MEN are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never impute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. It is the action of an uninstructed person to lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others; of one entering upon instruction to lay the fault on himself; and of one perfectly instructed, neither on others nor on himself.

EPICTETUS. MANUAL. 5.
 
We need to learn to accept things as they are without colouring them with false circumstances and outcomes.  We all bring our particular biases and predispositions to situations in our life.  We don't actually see the situations for what they are but pile a bunch of baggage left over from past experiences and judgements onto the new situation.  This baggage becomes a lens or filter that we see the world through. We need to try to greet each circumstance as a new experience without automatically ascribing a variety of emotions to it.  We need to rationally analyze each experience or circumstance as a new land with a brand new landscape.  When we prejudge a situation or circumstance irrationally we predispose ourselves to failure, doomed to recreate mistakes from the past.  We also rob ourselves of the possibility of growth as we don't acknowledge the newness of the experience but greet it as a familiar occurrence and relegate it to the mundane and mediocre.

The Stoic practice of recognizing what is "in our control" and "not in our control" can help us eliminate a lot of these filters, allowing us to make new judgements and have new experiences.  I hope to cultivate an ability to analyze each situation as a new situation, making correct decisions without carrying negativity from the past.  Let's all strive to greet each new day as a new canvas rich and ripe for painting new vistas on.