Monday, March 18, 2013

People are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them. Epictetus

Being thrown off a bridge disturbs the person being thrown; and whichever view they take of it they are just as dead when they hit the bottom!

Epictetus is right in one way; people aren’t really disturbed by things, what disturbs them is how those things affect their lives. It’s the impact on their lives and not the view they take of it that upsets them. The impact either enhances or disrupts their plans and their progress toward their goals. If it enhances their plans they are happy if it disrupts those plans they are disturbed.

If you are caught in a traffic jam, you are not disturbed by the traffic jam, but by it’s delay of your trip. The traffic jam may make you be late to a job interview, or cause your trip to the grocery store to take twice as long. Its not your view of the traffic jam that disturbs you it’s the delay that the time spent sitting in traffic causes that upsets you.

The point of people who quote ideas such as Epictetus’ is to help you calm down and accept things as they are, but how does accepting things help?

The guy who invented the wheelbarrow was disturbed by the amount of effort to carry small loads of whatever. If he had adopted the concept that the level of effort was not the problem but how he viewed it, we would still be carrying just a few bricks at a time instead of a wheelbarrow load.

Epictetus’ real message is to ensure that we are focused on the right part of the issue. Not on the traffic jam, but on the disruption in our life. Then and only then can you correctly identify what is wrong and being to fix the real problem!

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