Unhappy am I because this has happened to me. Not so, but happy am I, though this has happened to me, because I continue free from pain, neither crushed by the present nor fearing the future.
- Quote by Marcus Aurelius via beststoicquotes.com
In this translation, Marcus Aurelius sounds kinda like Yoda to me, don’t you think?
Anyway, in this meditation Marcus catches himself being dissatisfied with something but immediately turns it around and embraces the hardship and adversity, as he knows he will eventually grow from it.
Let me share a story.
One time, I went trekking with friends.
It was my first time doing a multi day hike, and I was excited & prepared. Or so I thought.
Poor me, little did I know.
After barely making it to Norway, through a wild ride on a jet boat and a storm of children raining puke on us, we finally arrived at our destination.
It was already too late to start the first day hike.
But you know what?
We did it anyway.
And because we were hardcore, we didn’t even take the car to the trailhead.
We left it at the bottom of the hill, put our fully loaded backpacks on and marched up the hill.
Did I mention we had about 30 kg (~66 lbs) in each backpack?
Idiots! I know (now, anyway).
What if I told you we were already smoked when we arrived at the trailhead? You wouldn’t be surprised, I assume.
And still we insisted on starting the hike.
And still we were astonished at the fact that we had to turn around after 800 meters of elevation, because one of us was having issues with his knees.
And still we considered doing it again after regrouping for a night.
Fortunately, 4 grown men with university degrees mustered some sensibility and called their moms.
After getting told we are idiots, we re-evaluated how much weight a moderately trained person can carry uphill for days on end.
Don’t lose faith just yet, friends.
So we got the car and unloaded 80% of our food. Acknowledging that we would only spend a few nights out in the Norwegian wilderness instead of 10 days.
We were massively pissed, of course. Egos were bruised. Legs sore.
Then, it rained most of the time. My stove was too weak against the northern wind, and cooking water took ages. I slept in my clothes because it was so damn cold. I was cold and wet and miserable, and I bitched to my girlfriend at the time how the group leader was pushing everyone too hard via text.
Man, I was so glad once we could shower again!
Obviously, one of the best experiences of my life!
Call it a character building measure, if you will.
I draw value from these events to this day.
That’s why I love this story, to remind me that every hardship, no matter how tough on the body and mind, will eventually allow you to add new facets to your personality that you would otherwise never have known existed.
Also, we had some epic views on our trek. That certainly helped.
The point is: You can be wet and cold and miserable, in a damp sleeping bag, in your dirty hiking gear, and rest assured that you will be fine. You can sleep little and still do the uphill hike the next day, with about 25kg on your back, while also enjoying the ride.
Plus, I cannot even tell you how good some hot oats with bullion followed by a protein bar can taste after you spent the entire day on a rainy trail.
How’s that for gratitude and happiness?
Disclaimer: Don’t over do it, please. I do recommend you apply less ego driven decision-making than a bunch of 23yo guys I might have known back then. Including me, of course. Be safe on the trails out there & take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footsteps.
Nobody ever arrives anywhere without sacrifice. No personality builds itself.
You have to embrace the adversity and deal with it.
It might be hard in the moment, but rest assured that you will be better and stronger after.
That is the essence of Amor Fati and applying Stoic virtue of Temperance.
Give yourself time to reflect, though.
Especially traumatic situations might take a long time for you to digest them. (Do not hesitate to get professional help, though, if you are struggling. Taking some rain on a muddy trail, or dealing with a tough boss, is not the same as depression.)
I recommend you turn inwards — into the Inner Citadel — and reflect.
Write down your thoughts, and embrace the process of learning from the experience. You will eventually get there.
Be grateful for every experience you have and try to see the positive sides in it.
Now we’d love to hear from you.
What harsh situation have you dealt with that you cherish today?
Or maybe you have another great quote regarding temperance? Don’t hesitate to contact us through the quote submission form 📝
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