Let me start off today’s blog post with a warning. You will be getting very familiar with the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius over the next month. He is one of my most favourite quotable people.
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
This is quite a timeless piece of advice, and comes up again and again in seminal works from various perspectives. My favourite example of this is the amazing Viktor Frankl’s wonderful and moving memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning. If you haven’t picked this up, or heard of it before, it’s well worth taking the time to read it.
In so many ways this is a book that exemplifies Marcus Aurelius’ advice. Here is the blurb for the book. Don’t be put off by the subject matter, it’s well worth investing the time to read.
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”) – holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.
I think that Frankl is right – meaning is the key – and Aurelius puts it in to perspective – you must control the meaning you give to outside events, especially in the knowledge that you often have little or no control over things happening around you. Your response and the way you view those events – what meaning you give them – will eventually lead you to a happy, or unhappy life. There is strength to be found in actively deciding what you will think of things instead of being bumped along on random or conditioned responses which may not be helpful. And like your muscles, it’s one of those skills that needs to be given a regular work out in order to develop and grow.
What one thing could you reframe (give another meaning to) today?
And today’s funny observation:
Always remember you’re unique. Just like everyone else.