The Daily Stoic for April 26th. “Things happen in training”.
“When your sparring partner scratches or head-butts you, you don’t then make a show of it, or protest, or view him with suspicion or as plotting against you. And yet you keep an eye on him, not as an enemy or with suspicion, but with a healthy avoidance. You should act this way with all things in life. We should give a pass to many things with our fellow trainees. For, as I’ve said, it’s possible to avoid without suspicion or hate.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 6.20
Now this is an interesting concept. Seeing each day and each situation as a training exercise. I discussed yesterday how we are taught to be the best in everything we do, to compite against our working colleagues, college friends, even among the members of our family.
However, when we are training, we are supposed to be learning, so we don’t tend to take things that seriously. It’s not like the championship is at stake… We are just training.
I think the idea behind this whole training metaphor is not taking things that seriously. Sometimes we tend to assign a lot of importance to things that, honestly, don’t actually matter that much.
Examples include the opinions of others of what we do, wear or own. Or a hater that just despised us on Twitter or Instagram.
Things Happen In Training
I happen to run into one of those situations every day. Being 38 years old, I have different points of view on things that most people in the startup hub I work from, TechHub. That’s basically because they are a lot younger -most of them are in their 20s- than me. Additionally, I’m from Spain, and they are from Latvia. Thus, culturally we come from two completely different worlds.
One of these differences showed some months ago when suddenly one of them decided that, even though it was -4 ºC outside, he wanted to open the windows to “let oxygen get in”. I had just moved into that office.
This is probably one of the most common causes of arguments in any office, of course. However, I think that if you work in a shared space, with other people, it’s always nice to be polite and ask others before doing things like that.
Then, the third time he did that in a couple of hours, I politely asked him to query the rest of us before opening the windows, “Just in case some of us preferred them closed”. He actually didn’t care at all and kept on doing that so, stoically, I decided to move myself to a different space. There’s no much point in arguing with a 20-something teenager that believes he’s going to run out of oxygen in a huge, old, unsealed building.
As a result, to this day, that person keeps on showing me his contempt every single day.
What Stoicism Has Shown Me Here
Previously, I would probably be angry with that guy or have some negative feelings every time I saw him. However, I have to say stoicism has really helped me here. I honestly don’t care at all about this guy.
He’s in a completely different place than me. Maybe in 10 years he would be a different person. Maybe I am the one who is wrong… I couldn’t care less. I don’t expect to be friends with him ever, and if our paths cross again in the future… Well… Who know how different he and I will be?
The point here is that now I am in a different office space, and his opinion or acts are not a concern for me anymore.
So things happen in training, Sometimes you even win without competing.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “things happen in training”, uses training vs a real championship or similar situation as an interesting metaphor. We tend to take things too seriously, like something as important as a championship was on stake. Conversely, seeing each day and each situation as a training exercise allows us to play down the drama of most of them.