The mental management of life & pain
I’d like to share with you some wisdom I have learned from the great Stoic Philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. His “Meditations,” as they were posthumously named, can be very helpful at teaching how to control your perception & mental management in a way that will benefit your health, relationships, character, and pursuits. The Art of Perception
“The impediment to action advances action.” Whatever stands in the way becomes the way. This persuades rationality when contemplating perceived barriers. We cannot view roadblocks as the end of a path because it is often these roadblocks that fuel the passion and creativity to advance.
In the sense of pain, the answer is not to halt all activity and wait until it ceases. The solution comes from the process itself. Determining what caused it in the first place, making necessary changes to prevent further deterioration, and taking steps to phyiscally improve and guarentee it doesn’t happen again. This is why we are constantly testing and retesting the effects of treatment during a session. This allows us to narrow down the most accurate diagnosis and beneficial therapies.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” A major theme in the book is that we have the ability to control our own perceptions regardless of the situation. When something happens against our expectations, we can either complain and stir up disappointment, or we can turn our thoughts to more productive means. Which is called mental management. He emphasizes our risk of losing the present due to preoccupation and dwelling on the future or past.
Just applying this in my own life, I have benefited tremendously. I no longer find my self getting angry, envious, or disheartened becuase I know that reactive emotions serve no purpose. We must control the impulse to immediately assign value judgements. When we consider events as natural rather than good or bad, we no longer fall back on the inclination to start an emotional fire.
“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.” He teaches that in any scenario we must judge the situation objectively, willing accept the outcome, and unselfishly act moving forward. I really like the last part because I have too often seen anger used as a therapeutic tool without any regard for the collateral damage it causes.
Can you remember the last time you lashed out in a moment of frustration? Did berating the other party or breaking another item resolve it? That brief rush of power never rectifies the situation and may even dig at your integrity. “Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself?”
“FOR TIMES WHE YOU FEEL PAIN: SEE THAT IT DOESN’T DEGRACE YOU, OR DEGRADE YOUR INTELLIGENCE-DOESN’T KEEP YOU FROM ACTING RATIONALLY OR UNSELFISHLY”
And with that said, he also points out that to endure pain and prevail will deliver far better fortune than the path of surrenduring to the pain. This discipline of character pays dividends for your own mind and in the perspective of those around you. Another great Stoic, Epicurus, noted that ‘pain is neither unbearable nor unending, as long as you keep in mind its limits and don’t magnify them in your imagination.’
These are just a few bits of wisdom from the mind of a great philosopher. I can’t stress enough how beneficial this mindset and mental management can be when applied to all aspects of life. Harden your mind and soften your soul is my take away from most of it. We can achieve harmony by accepting God’s will and being disciplined in our perceptions and actions.