The Daily Stoic for April 10th, “Judgments cause disturbance”.

“It isn’t events themselves that disturb people, but only their judgments about them.”

Some weeks ago, by mid March, the stoic meditation, “Timeless Wisdom“, talked about this topic. How events are not good or bad per se, only our judgments about them.

Back then, I wrote:

However, if my son dies in a terrible car accident in front of my eyes, I can hardly see how Stoicism can prevent me from seeing this as something bad. Conversely, if I save the life of an old woman who’s drowning at the sea, that’s a good act, independently of who’s that person I just saved.

I still think the same way. I don’t believe Stoicism would ever convince me that no act is good or evil. One might argue that our judgments can modify our perception of a situation.

However, if someone develops a vaccine against cancer, saving millions of present and future lives, that’s a good situation. Without any other far-fetched twist added to the mix, this simple example invalidates this Stoic teaching of “no act is good or evil, but our judgment of it”.

Judgments Cause Disturbance

What I can accept, nonetheless, is that in less categorical-terms, our judgment greatly influences how we perceive a situation.

That’s absolutely true. It’s clearly represented by the popular “seeing the glass half empty or half full” saying.

In my view, it’s not a matter of stripping any even from its meaning, or avoiding “feeling” either way about it. It’s all about being able to accept everyday’s situations, specially what we cannot change.

Bad shit is going to happen to you eventually. Instead of asking “why me?”, I think it’s far more positive to ask “ok, what can I do to change this?”. And if the answer is still “nothing”, you can still decide to focus on other positive things. We only live once.

Personally, after a terrible visit to the dentist, and some bad news, today’s one of those days when I really needed a reflection like this. Life always goes on, and I strongly believe that focusing on the bright side of things and don’t allowing negativity putting you down makes things work in the end.


Today’s Daily Stoic, “Judgments cause disturbance”, contains a similar meditation to “Timeless Wisdom” from some weeks ago. While I still believe that this teaching cannot be applied categorically, and situations can be universally bad or good, I also think that our judgment, or seeing the glass “half full” instead of “half empty”, can improve a lot our perception of things.


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  1. PAU April 14, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    So here is my five cents. If somebody saves millions of people it is still neutral because well, might be good foor humans but bad for planet earth. Same about “if my son dies”. It reminds me of an anime i watched: the doctor saves a kid after much effort (and having to chose him or another man cause it wasnt time for both). He choses the kid and he grows up to be a nazi who kills many people…. not that our sons have to be evil, but we cannot never know how the events will turn out in the future. Also, we humans believe we are entitled to everything and thats why people believe in haven. We just cannot accept we are worth as much as any other living organism. We all rotten in the floor. Accepting something good or bad, means we have a superior force over all things. Accepting neutrality is accepting we are just another piece of nature.
    That was my understanding and its always so interesting to read yours.

    1. nacho April 14, 2018 at 9:42 pm

      Hello there Pau, thanks for commenting!

      Actually, that discussion arose in my Daily Stoic group -now defunct-. However, I think that the fact that you save the kid is still objectively good, because at that very moment, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, as you mention. He might become Hitler, or he might become a doctor himself. Furthermore, imagine that he becomes that nazi, killing a jewish that would have killed your father (for some other reason) if he had survived… then now the doctor did a good thing…right?

      In my view, the acts alone have a meaning that’s given by the goodness or evilness of the act himself, the will of the performer. Saving a life is, in my opinion, always good, independently of who that person is… or will become.

      I don’t think it has to do with religion or something. But I do think that there are things that all of us, human beings, can see as good or bad, specially when we think “how would I feel if they did the same to me?”

      But definitely an interesting discussion well worth a ☕️ or some ????!!!

    2. John April 10, 2021 at 3:09 pm

      What he grows up to is irrelevant.

      I love your last two sentences are spot on and helpful to me. Your son dying in front of your eye is still not a bad or good event. It might cause you pain, but it is arrogant to think you are superior force over all things and know this event is bad. Accepting neutrality is accepting you are just another piece of nature. Just because something makes you said doesn’t mad it bad. I know this is a complete paradigm shift for people. Appreciate the words.

      1. nacho April 25, 2021 at 4:32 pm

        Thanks, John!


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