Turning the Obstacle Upside Down

Last week I shared a Stoic exercise called Practicing Misfortune. There are actually 8 exercises that Stoics drew upon for strength in trying times. The second is one we’ve talked about before but is important enough to mention again. It is the concept of altering your perception to see an obstacle as an opportunity or Turning the Obstacle Upside Down.

“Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.” -Marcus Aurelius

An event isn’t in itself good or bad. It is how we choose to view the event that gives it its quality. To illustrate this, let’s consider that the quality of any event is highly subjective. If it rains today, I might think this is a good thing. I will stay inside my toasty house drinking tea and reading with my warm blanket. However, you may not share my opinion about today’s rainy weather if you had planned a party outdoors. Continue reading “Turning the Obstacle Upside Down”

Purposely practice misfortune to free yourself from fear

Even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly fortunate person, you likely have more than you think you do. If you have the time and the means to read blogs today, you are a fortunate person. It is possible to get so comfortable in our good fortune that we lose sight of how fortunate we really are. We may not be wealthy, but we are comfortable with where we live, our cars, our laptops, our iPhones, indoor plumbing, electricity, and running water. We are so comfortable having all of these conveniences that we live in fear of losing them. What if these things weren’t available to us as readily as they are today?

What brings this subject to mind is my car, which is becoming a rather prolific source of blog fodder lately. It has had a vibration, been noisier than usual and a rather alarming clunking sound has gotten worse over the last week. It has gotten to the point that I was a little afraid to drive the thing. It had to go into the shop. I have no backup vehicle. I live on the outskirts of a small city where a vehicle is a necessity if I need to do any sort of regular daily errands. Luckily we live within walking distance of the school, but the city center and all of my kid’s activities are a 20-minute drive away. Writing all of this down illustrates how incredibly fortunate we are. Today, however, I will be practicing misfortune. Continue reading “Purposely practice misfortune to free yourself from fear”

I Stopped Caring In Order to Become More Compassionate

“Impassivity with regards to the events, brought about by the exterior cause.” —Marcus Aurelius

The other day I made an epic decision. I decided to stop caring so much about everything and everyone around me in order to become more compassionate. I realized that I spent a large amount of my time being frustrated about what people around me were doing and how it affected me. In short, I cared too much.

I cared about people in traffic–you know, the ones who can’t drive; about the other moms; what the other moms thought; what my family thought; about people who made my day difficult–on purpose or by chance; about random rude people; noisy people; annoying people; construction; you get my drift. All of this caring was diminishing my cheerfulness and actually making me quite a sour person. It suddenly occurred to me that if I didn’t care about this stuff, it wouldn’t matter.

This doesn’t mean that I became an unfeeling cynic. Quite the opposite. I realized that by not allowing external events to affect me so deeply, I would actually open myself up to more compassion. Suddenly, the person who was rude to me became someone who was having a really bad day. Because I didn’t care that they were rude to me, I was able to see this clearly. Continue reading “I Stopped Caring In Order to Become More Compassionate”

How to live fully

Last week, I spent every day having mini adventures with my little girl. It’s summertime, and we live in an area that people flock to for their summer vacations. So we played tourist. We went to museums, animal parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, educational centers, Custer State Park, Sylvan Lake, and a handful of hiking trails around the Black Hills. It was beyond awesome to hang out with her. What a fantastic hands-on workshop on how to have a child-like mind from the master!

The art of living with abandon

When hanging with a child, it is important to leave your ego and ideas about time behind. Focus on the fun that is to be had rather than a task to be completed. These important concepts may not sound practical or useful for your adult life, but I beg to differ. Here are lessons I learned from my child about how to live fully. Continue reading “How to live fully”

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