Have you heard the saying “every cloud has a silver lining”? Stoics call this type of thinking “art of acquaintance” (to accept rather than fight every little thing). Amor fati (translated from Latin as ‘a love of one’s faith) can be a recipe for happiness and joy.
The current situation we all find ourselves in is one that could not have been predicted. It has been a hard pill to swallow at times but, a slight change in perspective can make all the difference. What if we accepted that things will happen, good and bad? That this is simply part of life’s beautiful unfolding and that even the disasters can have the seeds of growth and possibility within them?
With a change in perspective, you can accomplish many things. Just like our bodies, we can train our brains. Accepting situations, planning to move forward and knowing that there may be a solution to any problem are just some of the ways to incorporate a different perspective to any circumstance that makes you uneasy or stressed. Maybe BikeRowSki has closed, or you can’t meet your friends for a night out. But, until we can do the things we desire, we have a choice.
Changing our perspective to see our situation as a time to focus on self-development can help direct us on a positive path. You don’t need to run 5k in the next two weeks, nor do you have to jump into a degree in lockdown, but a little change can have a knock-on effect to your day or week. We all have a choice; we can feel empowered by having that choice. Instead of “I should” or “I must” we can change it to “I could” or “I might”. We might feel we should be exercising, reading, mediating and so much more vs the days it’s a struggle to find the motivation to even get dressed. Accept how you feel and recognise it for what it is. Being aware of how you feel is a step in the right direction. This alone can be self-development.
Taking inventory of your obligations from time to time can help you access where your attention is. Are your obligations self-imposed or truly necessary? Being aware of where your attention lies can be a place to start. What you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. There are so many lessons in trying new things and learning from your experiences. You will find how you like to be challenged. This could be acknowledging your feelings, reading some pages of a good book or just five minutes of gratitude daily. This can all help change your perspective and how you feel. With awareness comes a slight feeling of control. Taking control of your world!
A system for living is a repeated, optimised pattern for getting things done. When you try new things and challenge yourself, you build self-awareness and upgrade your system for living (you start to know what works best for you). This can help us get the most out of every-day. Adapting to change is what the human race does best. Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow is the future but today is a gift. Staying focused and being present might not come easy, but with order and simplifying things is the first step towards mastery of a subject. The subject being you!
All events are objective. It’s always our opinions that say something is good or bad. We can be suspicious of change, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad and the status quo is good, these things just are. We can make the most of everything, we just need to cease the fighting against what is. Accept those bad days, accept things are not exactly where we want them to be and try to make the most of everyday. Small daily successes can be spiritual, personal, material gain or just simply learning to laugh at yourself when you mess something up. When we think about where we want to be, we tend to use that as a marker. Constantly measuring our progress can make us unhappy because we keep referring to what we haven’t got. What we can do is accept where we are, appreciate what we have and start from there. Success can be containment or effort. Don’t underestimate what you can do, why not push a boundary or two? The worst that can happen is you fail but the silver lining, you learn! Focus on what you can control, forget what you can’t.
“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is coloured by such impressions”
-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.16