“If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Perception is everything. Marcus clearly calls our attention to this fact by guiding us to the acknowledgment that we hold in our power the ability to discern between what is our merely our own judgment and what is simply an event in our lives.
Don’t underestimate the power of your own judgement on not only your personal performance but also on the people around you. When we make mental judgments we are effectively framing our situations and that can be limiting to how we and others interact with the situations we encounter.
Think about how we react when we receive unexpected and potentially damaging news at work. If we react to that news with a judgement call—a negative mindset—we risk framing the situation and limiting our ability to see anything other than the negative repercussions we expect.
It may be true that the news you received could have immediate negative impacts to your organization. However, it’s also possible that there are just as many unseen opportunities for innovation that could create additional value from the same news. If we approach unexpected news in general as negative, we risk limiting our ability to perceive anything but the disasters we anticipate.
Don’t let this happen to you. Bad news is just news. Use it. Review it. See it for what it is—just a change in your environment and an opportunity to take a different path.
“…Nothing will happen to me which is not conformable to the nature of the universe…” -Marcus Aurelius
I find it comforting to remember that no matter what the universe throws at me it’s nothing new. All things conform to the laws of nature and my experiences are no different than anyone else’s. In this way, it’s unreasonable for me to fear uncertainty in this life. Everything is to be expected.
So, rather than rage against hardship and misfortune, we can choose to embrace our paths and accept the difficulties placed in front of us for what they are—natural occurrences—just a thunderstorm in our lives.
All storms pass. All colors fade. All we have to do is learn to accept it’s just another day.
“Hippocrates, after curing many diseases, himself fell sick and died.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
It’s important to remember that we all have limits. At some point we’re going to hit that point and that’s okay. The challenge is approaching that limit with both wisdom and grace.
Time seems to be the most pressing limit we face in this life. When we’re young we can’t wait for the future to arrive so we can change the world. When we’re older we would do anything to slow down, but we’re caught in a current that never ceases, and the best we can hope to achieve is to swim well and bravely while we still can.
We all have an expiration date. As we age, we can become more keenly aware of it. That doesn’t mean we give up. Time is an amazing gift, and it allows us to put everything into perspective. If we have to say goodbye tomorrow, then how do you feel about the day you just lived?
Did you share love or spread gossip?
Did you help a stranger or buy yourself a latte?
Did you make the world a better a place today? Did you even try?
Perspective can keep us both honest and focused on something other than ourselves. Accept that gift and use it to change the world—build bridges, tear down walls, heal the sick, feed the hungry, fix the broken—the point is you could have made a difference today. So, what are you going to do differently tomorrow?
“Nothing should be done without a purpose.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
One of the easiest ways to bring focus to your life is by taking the time every morning to assign a purpose to each of your actions for the coming day.
It’s really pretty shocking that so many of the choice that we make in our lives are driven by chance. How much better would your life be if you could reverse that trend?
If each action you take contributed to a specific end goal, would that not be more beneficial than just surviving each moment or just working that 9-5 shift?
Well, one way you can assert control over your life is by connecting the decisions you make each day to a goal.
Could you be spending time learning a new professional skill each night instead of watching TV?
Could you spend your morning commute learning a new language instead of listening to the radio?
Could you spend your Friday night volunteering or helping others instead of going to the bar with your coworkers?
The point is, all of our actions in life are based on choices. Often we simply follow the most convenient path in front of us, but the truth is that this is rarely the best path for us.
If you learn to challenge yourself, you can start to make more impactful decisions regarding how you spend your time.
So, what actions are you taking today to achieve your goals?