Never get upset again

“In the ring, our opponents can gouge us with their nails or butt us with their heads and leave a bruise, but we don’t denounce them for it or get upset with them or regard them from then on as violent types. We just keep an eye on them after that. Not out of hatred or suspicion. Just keeping a friendly distance.

We need to do that in other areas. We need to excuse what our sparring partners do, and just keep our distance — without suspicion or hatred.”

-Marcus Aurelius

You wouldn’t get resentful if your sparring partner hurt you in the ring – it’s what you’re there to do. Being harmed is expected, and if you spend enough time there it’s inevitable. So why get resentful and bitter when misfortune strikes in life? It seems to me that being alive is the same as being in the ring.

In life you’ll be pushed around and beaten by nature, reality, or whatever you want to call it. It’s not unfair, it’s just that nature is utterly indifferent to human suffering. And if that’s the case, then what use is it to complain about what happens to you? It seems completely counterproductive, that is to say that pitying yourself will just worsen your subjective experience.

But this doesn’t mean we should all just stop trying to avoid bad things. What I’m saying is that I think we’d do well to realize that our efforts could always be entirely in vain, and be willing to accept and embrace the worst circumstances.  

We’re each at nature’s whim: no matter how safe you might feel, at absolutely any moment big papa reality can smack you down to rock bottom – irrespective of your status, accomplishments, or material wealth. Death is the ultimate example – the ultimate equalizer – strikes rich, poor, young, old, good and bad alike.    

So I think it pays to spend time every now and again familiarizing yourself with how horribly wrong things could go at any given moment – as uncomfortable as is it. Your family could be slaughtered tonight, your house burnt to the ground, you could be hit by a car and be left quadriplegic.

They’re tragic thoughts to entertain, but what’s the alternative? To continue living in your bubble, hoping that papa reality doesn’t come by waving a pin?

I think it’s always better to seek out your worst fears and confront them to the extent possible, rather than to let them find you. I think in doing this you finally appreciate the beauty of life, and realize just how fucking lucky you are to have the things you do.

All of a sudden colours seem brighter, music sounds better, and you start to cherish your relationships a lot more – because you know in a blink of an eye it could all be taken away.

It doesn’t just help you gain perspective and feel better, but I think it’s also practical. From here you can start to build your infrastructure for avoiding suffering from a position of strength, rather than dependency.

When you’re dependent you’re frantic and fearful, and this clouds your vision and restricts your maneuverability, ultimately (ironically) leading to more suffering than necessary. So accepting the worst case gives you the power to think and act clearly. 

So, takeaways:

  • Complaining is useless. 
  • Contemplating worst case scenarios makes you a better person.

This is your life, and it’s ending minute by the minute. Appreciate the thing while you have it, and when your time inevitably comes (could be tomorrow) you can part with it gracefully and without regret.   

This article is part of a series on “Perspective”, and I have much more where it came from. 

Your quality of life is 100% dependent on your perspective.

Nothing can phase you with the right perspective. Life is beautiful. And not in a trivial way. It’s fucking mind-blowing how beautiful it can be.  

The problem with maintaining perspective is that it can feel like digging a hole in the ocean – with every heave of the shovel the water just floods back in.

And for that reason it’s easy to just drift through life unconscious, blown around like a leaf in the wind, and suffering because of it.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

The more you realign with it the longer it sticks, and eventually you can entrench it permanently.

So I’m going to keep writing about it and sharing my insights. If you want to come on this journey with me drop your email below and check out the social media icons.

Stick with me, and I’ll do my best to keep us both on track.

Much love ❤