Staying on track is tough. Life hits hard. I’ve had my fair share of hard knocks, as have many of you. It’s not about getting knocked down, it’s about how you get back up. Everything happens for a reason. You can’t change the world, change you. How many times have we all heard these words? Here’s the problem with words; most of the time, nobody wants to hear them.
There are days that I feel like crap. I’m not living in the moment. My mind is distant, and my family can feel this. It impacts everyone in the house, including the dogs. In a moment of clarity, I know what I should do. I hear the words, but they don’t register. I wallow in self pity and scorn. Give me the greatest speaker talking about dreams and inspiration-I don’t care. A sermon on how to be a better person and do what you were born to do-in one ear and out the other. I don’t care. I tell myself tomorrow will be better.
So the question is, how to break through the troubles in life and come out on top? This is the age old dilemma many have tried to solve. No other philosophy has solved this question better than the Stoics. They believed that certain things in life are out of one’s control. The only thing that is in your control is how you react to these things. This belief system was founded by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC. It was a philosophy that was created to endure pain and deal with the hardships of life. When the mental chains of bondage are removed, one is truly free to be shaped by anything that comes their way. By looking for the best in a bad circumstance, we allow ourselves to focus on the positive. This allows peace. This promotes personal growth, not only in mind but in spirit.
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome and a practitioner of stoicism. Hard choices and temptations became a daily trial for him. Power, greed, control, sex, drugs, and drinking could all be had at a snap of a finger. He knew the consequences of giving into the flesh. Like a daily devotion, he practiced stoicism to avoid falling into these vices. He knew that his actions not only dictated his life, but the whole of Rome. By daily determination and grace, he overcame many of these trials and became known as one of the greatest rulers of all time. Epictetus, on the flip side, was a cripple. He was a poor man who lived a hard life, many years of which were in servitude. His saving grace came in the form of stoicism, and he became one of the greatest teachers of the philosophy.
I’ve been knocked down a lot. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting back up. My whole life, I’ve believed everything happens for a reason. Many may dispute this, thinking the universe works at random. Maybe it does, but I don’t believe so. In every action, there is a reaction. If everything does happen for a reason, then don’t just let the universe settle it up, learn from it. If you don’t, maybe the reason just passed you by.