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.