I hope this finds you all healthy and doing OK under these new restrictions. A few of you have called me, which I really appreciate. Please don’t hesitate. It is nice to hear voices and not just see letters on a screen!
The saying that “you teach what you need to learn” is so true. Over and over again I have seen that the wisdom I try to pass on in my classes is the wisdom I need so much myself.
I was working on an online essay I use for my MPC class on Stoicism. Stoicism is an ancient philosophy of Greece and Rome. Simply put, Stoicism puts the emphasis on working with our inner life in an effort to not place so much emphasis on our outer lives, much of which we do not control.
So much unhappiness is a result of putting the focus on the wrong things. For example, we can’t really do much about this virus other than take the usual and common sense steps that we have been advised to do.
But we can work with our thoughts and attitude. Some students, for instance, have told me they are bored. I understand that, but I would also challenge you to see all of the opportunities that are still possible to learn and grow during these unusual days.
I wonder how my life might have been different if I had been taught when I was very young to work with my thoughts rather than simply believe them. In other words, as the famous anthropologist Margaret Meade said, “We need to teach children how to think, rather than what to think.”
These were some of the quotes I used:
Seneca: “We suffer more in imagination than we do in reality.”
Seneca: “He is most powerful who has power over himself.”
Marcus Aurelius: “Is a world without pain possible? Then don’t ask the impossible."
Marcus Aurelius: “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
Epictetus: “Man is affected not by events, but by the view he takes of them.”
Scipio Africanus: “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% on how I react to.”
Epicurus: “Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance it.”
My hope is that you will really think about how these thoughts, if put into practice, could really change the quality of your life for the better.
We are all invited to live an "examined life." One powerful way of doing this is to study your life using these quotes. For example, our modern culture places the emphasis on money and materialism. Most of us buy into this focus without even knowing we are doing so.
So the question is, how much do I want these materialistic values to dominate my life? Do you want your life to be about how much you accumulated or how much you enjoyed whatever is was that you did have?
To Inner Freedom!