Epictetus the Life Coach

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Marcus Aurelius, not EpictetusEric Falkenstein turns to Epictetus the Life Coach, because optimism has one glaring deficiency:

The problem with optimism is that it’s blatantly incorrect: we aren’t all above average in everything, things do not always get better, and we can’t always get what we want. The problem with realism is that by itself it is depressing, a demotivator that does not elevate.

He summarizes Marcus Aurelius’s stoic advice from his Meditations as don’t sweat mean people:

But this is actually quite important, because frustrations with people, not nature, causes most of our grief. Most of what causes people angst are not exogenous constraints of no one’s fault, but rather, when people do things that seemingly are intended to harm you: someone cuts you off in traffic, privately belittles your contributions to colleagues. Recognize there are things you can control, and those you can’t, and this include other people’s actions: learn the difference, and don’t worry about things you can’t control (aka the Serenity Prayer).

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