Say to yourself first thing in the morning: I shall meet with people who are meddling, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, and unsociable. They are subject to these faults because of their ignorance of what is good and bad. But I have recognised the nature of the good and seen that it is the right, and the nature of the bad and seen that it is the wrong, and the nature of the wrongdoer himself, and seen that he is related to me, not because he has the same blood or seed, but because he shares in the same mind and portion of divinity. So I cannot be harmed by any of them, as no one will involve me in what is wrong. Nor can I be angry with my relative or hate him. We were born for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of upper and lower teeth. So to work against each other is contrary to nature; and resentment and rejection count as working against someone.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 2.1
Take 5-10 minutes to sit quietly and reflect on your relationships and how you could potentially view things differently. What would be the consequences of doing so?
I am an easy-going person. For the longest time (since I was a 16 year-old), I have kept a phrase constantly at hand and ready to use: give others the benefit of the doubt.
Little did I know that this is a very Stoic idea. I will encounter grump, ornery, unsocial, cranky, mean, revengeful people. I see them on the road, at work, playing basketball, on-line, at the store. Having had many bad days myself, I quickly come up with reasons as to why other people act the way they do. If I have the opportunity, I will try to understand why people act they way they do. I've found that many times, they are simply having a bad day or are hungry. Other times, they just "need a moment."
Almost always, the reasons for the bad behavior is temporary - this isn't really who they are. Fundamentally, they are good people. And by recognizing this, I've learned to have compassion for all, including myself.
Whenever you want to cheer yourself up, think of the good qualities of those who live with you: such as the energy of one, the decency of another, the generosity of another, and some other quality in someone else. There is nothing so cheering as the images of the virtues displayed in the characters of those who live with you, and grouped together as far as possible. So you should keep them ready at hand.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.48
Read today’s evening text. Reflect on the good qualities you might be able to perceive in other people and consider what you can learn from them.
Hard work and diligence.
Happiness / a positive attitude.
Reason and logic.
Camaraderie and friendship.
These are all qualities I admire in the people I associate with in my home and at work and in my neighborhood. In all these interactions with them, I reflect on the good behavior and try to think of them when I need to exercise these qualities.
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