The Daily Stoic for September 5th, “Focus On What Is Yours Alone”.
“Remember, then, if you deem what is by nature slavish to be free, and what is not your own to be yours, you will be shackled and miserable, blaming both gods and other people. But if you deem as your own only what is yours, and what belongs to others as truly not yours, then no one will ever be able to coerce or to stop you, you will find no one to blame or accuse, you will do nothing against your will, you will have no enemy, no one will harm you, because no harm can affect you.”
—EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 1.3
Is hope an obstacle in our lives? Is it self-deception? That seems to be the lesson in today’s stoic.
“Interviewed by Jim Collins for the business classic Good to Great, Stockdale explained there was one group that had the most trouble in the prison. “It was the optimists,” he said, “. . . the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Focus On What Is Yours Alone
I get it: You should be realistic and try to endure difficult situations without putting your faith in something that might now happen. But we are human beings. We need hope. We need to think that things are going to improve.
I don’t share that point of view that, just because someone is hopefully waiting for something or someone to get you out of that difficult situation, you are doing the wrong thing. I mean, obviously, you need to be realistic. Denying reality is not going to help you, it’s probably only going to make things worse. But there’s a difference between that and keeping hope.
So if today’s stoic teaching is: rely on yourself and endure situations without expecting miracles to happen… I’m all in. If, on the contrary, today’s lesson is: abandon hope because is dangerous… Don’t count me in.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Focus On What Is Yours Alone”, seems to discourage hope as a mechanism to go through difficult situations. I can’t really agree with that stoic point of view as of now.
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