"Some days are like that. Even in Australia."
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
Life is hard. Whole philosophies developed to prepare us for this ubiquitous challenge. One of which is Stoicism, a philosophy from ancient Greece (and Rome) that was not only popular amongst the ruling class but the slaves, as well. If we can accept unpleasantness as a natural part of living, we can move ahead and actively take part in our day-to-day lives.
Aurelius Knew Bad Days
Battling during the day, Marcus Aurelius (Stoic philosopher and King) of Rome wrote Meditations from his tent at night. The situation was not ideal, but that is the nature of circumstances outside ourselves. You get through it.
The things we aren't expecting, the punch we didn't see coming, causes the most distress. Through the practice of negative visualization (premeditatio malorum), the occasional thinking of worst-case scenarios, the Stoics were rarely alarmed nor taken by surprise. A precursor to Stoic philosophy, Heraclitus of Ephesus said:
Resilience exercises, like strenuous activity or camping, is then needed to remind us, as Aurelius put it:
Alexander Knew Bad Days
Perhaps many of us were introduced to this philosophy, not by Aurelius nor Seneca but by Judith Viorst. She wrote the children's book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And for many children (including myself), it was our gateway drug into Stoicism (or moody angst). If you don't remember the story, here is an excerpt:
Ensign Davis Really Knew Bad Days
We've all had days like this right? But as bad as Alexander's day was, it was still better than the day Ensign Davis was having in John Scalzi's humorous send-up of Star Trek, Redshirts:
That sucks. [Low-ranking crew members in Star Trek wore red uniforms, were normally played by extras, and were killed off in every episode.] Alexander should think about that the next time he decides to complain. But as Alexander (not the Great, the one who spread Greek culture, but the terrible, I mean the Alexander who had a terrible day) put it:
Philosopher king Marcus Aurelius couldn't have put it any better. A good reminder to those who always think of moving (or hiding under the sheets) when life doesn't go their way.
When the worst is accounted for, nothing can disturb your inner peace. Oh, that very terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing happened? Oh I know, I was expecting that. I'm cool.
Useful Companions (Improve Your Education and This Site by Buying a Book):
- Meditations – Marcus Aurelius (Author), Robin Hard (Translator)
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Judith Viorst
- Redshirts - John Scalzi
- Remembering Heraclitus – Richard Geldard
- Letters from a Stoic – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Author), Robin Campbell (Translator)