Each day, I read The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. With highlighter in hand, I peruse the current day’s passage and highlight the parts that give me hope. Today, I re-read all of April, the theme of which is unbiased thought.
One of the messages I took from the April passages was that our thoughts color our perceptions. Our mind is our own, and we shouldn’t let the opinion and drama of others influence us. We can’t control other people or events, but we can control how we react to them. Yesterday, when I was at the grocery store, I reached the check-out line at the same time as another woman. I didn’t see her until she was standing beside me trying to cut in front of me. My momentum kept me moving, though, and I didn’t think anything of it because I had gotten to the line first. When I started to grab items from my cart, she huffed out a sigh and said, “You could’ve let me go ahead of you.” The way she talked to me pissed me off, and I didn’t react well. I yanked my cart out of the way and motioned for her to go in front of me. She must’ve known I was angry because she said, “I’m not trying to give you any trouble.” That just pissed me of more because giving me a hard time was exactly what she did. I was so angry that, instead of placing my items on the conveyor belt, I threw them. Anyone nearby could see I was upset, and I regret letting her get to me. I would’ve preferred if she had asked nicely if she could go ahead of me, but I had no control over what she did. The only control I had was over my own reaction, and I don’t like that I let a rude person upset me. If I had it to do it over again, I would’ve just said, “Go ahead, Miss Entitled” because I don’t mind calling people out on their rude behavior as long as it’s not in a way that turns me into a rude person too.
Another message from the book’s April passages was that we should be willing to learn from others and change our mind. We should also look at things from every angle because wisdom comes from questioning and humility. For me, this means really listening to others and thinking about things from different perspectives. We can have an opinion, but we should also be willing to listen to other people’s opinions and try to see things from their point of view. We should keep an open mind. However, we shouldn’t give up beliefs and views just because someone holds different beliefs and views. We should respect others’ opinions, but if we don’t agree, we don’t have to change our mind. With my example above, I could’ve tried to see the situation from her point of view. Maybe from her perspective, I had cut in front of her, which justified being rude to me in her mind. I can imagine her thinking that, but I don’t agree it justified her being rude.
The last message I took from April was that less is more. We shouldn’t squander our attention on worthless things and information. By worthless, I mean things that don’t help us be the best version of ourselves. I used to have a lot of stuff. Then everything I owed was destroyed by the flooding following Hurricane Katrina. Guess what? Other than a few sentimental items, I miss very little of that stuff. I live more simply now and think before buying new things. I also give away the possessions I’ve accumulated since Katrina but don’t use any more. I do the same thing with subjects that don’t interest me. I’ll admit I used to learn about new things hoping to connect with someone who was interested in that thing even after I realized the subject matter bored me. I try not to live like that anymore. No stoic should.
Each day, I read The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. With highlighter in hand, I peruse the current day’s passage and highlight the parts that give me hope. Today, I re-read all of March, the theme of which is awareness.
One of the messages I took from the March passages was to become self-aware. We must all realize our strengths and weaknesses in order to be our best authentic selves. In my case, I’m very detailed and organized. I’m no leader, though, because I’m too much of a perfectionist. Knowing this about myself has prevented me from making the mistake of ever accepting a job that requires me to supervise other people. As a supervisor, I know I would be constantly annoyed or frustrated, and the poor people under me would hate me and their job. Everyone, me included, is better off with me not being a boss.
Another message from the book’s March passages was not to try to impress people by doing things we don’t want to do. Most people are not worth impressing if it means making ourselves miserable by not being ourselves. For me, this has meant not having kids even though it is very much expected by society. Quite frankly, being a parent is not for me. To me, it’s sort of like being a boss. See above for why that wouldn’t be a good idea. In addition to my perfectionist tendencies, I lack assertiveness. Being an advocate for your kid is a necessity, and I don’t have the level of confidence needed to be a successful advocate for anyone, including myself. In this respect, I’m happier not living up to society’s expectations.
The last message I took from March was to maintain control over our thoughts. We can make our situations better simply by thinking about them differently. For example, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the governor of my state issued a stay-at-home mandate. Almost immediately, I started going stir-crazy because my regular routine was disrupted. I would go to the store just to get out of the house, and I took a lot of naps. Now, I’ve changed the way I think about having to self-isolate. I’ve started to think of it as an opportunity to get stuff done around my house. I make lists, and I feel hugely accomplished whenever I get to cross off a task I’ve completed. I’m also working from home because my office is closed due to the coronavirus, and at first, I couldn’t concentrate on work. Then I started including my work tasks on my lists. The fact that I get to cross off an item on my list has helped me focus on the work tasks I need to complete. All it took was a shift in the way I thought about my situation.