You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. If it’s not right, don’t do it. -Marcus Aurelius
A while back I was reading stoic philosophy, namely Marcus Aurelius and I want want to share this though that has been on my mind. It was a regular day in the week when I didn’t really have anything pressing to do, I didn’t have work constraints etc…. I had to go to the bank with my girlfriend and her father, they needed to do something and I was just tagging along. We get to the bank and join what appeared to be the quickest queue, quickly a line started forming behind us. As we waited for the people to finish with their transactions in front of us, which went on for a few minutes, there was this inevitable tension in the air of wanting them to hurry up so we can go next;so that the people behind us can go and we all get our business done in a timely fashion. It was in this moment of trepidation that I realised I’m not actually in a hurry, in fact no-one in my immediate group was in a hurry to do anything, just deposit some money and yet we wanted the people in front of us to hurry up.
The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have -Marcus Aurelius
Finally, it was our turn to use the ATM when suddenly a message flashed up on the screen “temporarily out of service”. While obviously it was annoying I noticed that the people behind us were getting riled up, one woman screamed “it’s out of service, HELLO, the machine is out of service”, then the woman behind us moved to the service desk queue with a person behind it others in the queue quickly followed suit. All the while highlighting their dismay that the machine was out of service. Not sure what we should do, we almost joined the back of the queue that we where in front of. When the ATM started to work again, a person behind the machine it was quickly inserting money to fill it back up.
It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgments concerning them – Marcus Aurelius
All the people behind us that left our line for a faster line where now waiting in a slower line as more people walked in and joined the line behind us. Naturally we walked out indignant that we had to wait so long,to then be nearly inconvenienced more. Even though there was no inconvenience. We all wanted a faster service and became annoyed while we where not in a hurry and those that were moved into a line that actually made their wait longer.
The things that are essential are acquired with little bother; it is the luxuries that call for toil and effort. – Marcus Aurelius
Why was I annoyed I wondered? It seemed so natural. So I thought I would do an experiment, I would try to take my time and accept that certain things take as long as they do. What would I accomplish with this approach? I was unsure. We live in a time where we are always switched on, everything is fast paced and convenient we ( I am for sure) are quick to forget that certain things are out of our control. Being in control of how we approach life starts with curbing your ego, recognisng that things happen outside of our control and while we don’t have power over events in our lives, we do have the power over how we perceive them.
So I’ll leave you with one more quote:
Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen – Marcus Aurelius