In a newletter, titled the “Daily Stoic”, Ryan Holiday shares the point of view at the foundation of stoicism. The word stoicism is defined on the web as “the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint”.
In a recent post, he quoted Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor, with saying “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I will deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly.” Ryan goes on to say that “And then once he got that out of the way, he was ready to meet those folks with a smile on his face.”
Ancient times. Same human nature. It has become common to complain and share what is wrong about something, Criticism is so easy when others put in the work. Negativity festers when things don’t match our opinion or worldview. Our deep need to connect uses negativity as a magnet to bring others closer to us.
Negativity feeds off of the irritation we find when others behave differently that we expect them to in a given situation. For they may be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, or jealous. The location and depth of the well that feeds them is always a mystery to us.
Marcus Aurelius understood human nature. His smile was the only way he could focus on his. Instead of drowning in the quicksand of continual disappointment & negativity around him.
True, he was disappointed in what he found in others – “meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly”. But by his example he was stoic. Enduring where he saw, understood and experienced the bad sides of human nature but not displaying his feelings and without complaint to others.
Do we have the strength to smile and endure? To be optimistic? To help create positive change in the world? To have the courage to listen beyond the fence of our own selfish ego?
Seek out what is good. Always. Responsibility demands we do this. Especially when things around us seem confusing, toxic, or disappointing. We need to lift each other past the parts of human nature that sink us without water.
For the struggle to create, build and sustain lives and organizations that matter, ebb and flow as time keeps passing. It’s just the way life is. Never perfect but always hopeful, that our work and our many efforts guide us in the right direction.