Roman Calendar

Monday, May 12, 2014

"It's Not The Accident" (from "Greeks to Geeks")

From Rohan Healey's Greeks to Geeks: Practical Stoicism for the 21st Century:

"It's Not The Accident

Epictetus: 'When you see anyone weeping in grief because his son has gone abroad, or is dead, or because he has suffered in his affairs, be careful that the appearance may not misdirect you. Instead, distinguish within your own mind, and be prepared to say, 'It's not the accident that distresses this person, because it doesn't distress another person; it is the judgment which he makes about it.' As far as words go, however, don't reduce yourself to his level, and certainly do not moan with him. Do not moan inwardly either.'
. . .
Epictetus: 'The will of nature may be learned from those things in which we don't distinguish from each other. For example, when our neighbour's  boy breaks a cup, or the like, we are presently ready to say, 'These things will happen.' Be assured, then, that when your own cup likewise is broken, you ought to be affected just as when another's cup was broken. Apply this in like manner to greater things. Is the child or wife of another dead? There is no one who would not say, 'This is a human accident.' But if anyone's own child happens to die, it is presently, 'Alas how wretched am I!' But it should be remembered how we are affected in hearing the same thing concerning others.'
. . .
It is always your choice how you react to events.

Imagine the respite from stress and emotional pain you would gain from being able to treat your own misfortunes with the same, or similar degree of indifference that you would feel toward something that had happened to someone else.
. . .
Because the process of event, opinion, reaction is so quick, it is very difficult to change your opinions in real time . . ."

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