How many of them who came into the world at the same time when I did, are already gone out of it.
- Quote by Marcus Aurelius
Back in the day when Marcus Aurelius was alive, life expectancy was around 35 years. Some people grew old and saw their 70th birthday, but there also was a high infant mortality rate.
Considering that, one could count oneself pretty lucky already if one lived to get to know one's grandchildren.
Today, we are less prone to experience death in the way ancient Greeks and Romans used to. During their time, death was a much bigger part of life. I believe that we lost a lot of acceptance towards death in modern times, and that we might be more afraid of it now that back in the day. I know I am pretty afraid, anyway.
In that sense, to practice gratitude and live a life we can be proud of one day (Memento Mori), we should consider what we have now, at this moment, that others might be missing out on. To consider all the people that have it worse than us.
A few years back, I got into first person accounts of war.
Whenever I catch myself being displeased or ungrateful with my current situation, I like to remind myself that it is better to sit in a heated apartment, in one of the safest countries on earth, having basically instant access to whatever I want, while having to rack my brain about some obnoxious coding problem, than getting shot down over the canopies of Vietnam during the 60s, and being imprisoned for 8 years like James Stockdale (fellow Stoic btw).
I understand that this way of looking at things can come across as harsh, but it works for me. Plus, I found a lot of commonalities between the attitudes of veterans towards life and Stoicism. I think it is inspiring to see how people stay positive and on target, and keep going that have or are suffering through terrible ordeals. It shows me that any obstacle I might face can be overcome. It shows me that, as long as I prevail and keep working towards it, I can have the life I want.
Additionally, adversity will bring out the best and worst in you. Difficult situations will magnify your strength and weaknesses. Use this opportunity to reflect on yourself and how you can do better next time.
Have the Courage to face whatever is in front of you, and act in a way that is according to nature, aka. that is in line with how the world really works. Realizing and accepting the hard truths, even though — especially — when you don’t like them, will get you to the next stage much faster.
Always know that:
This too shall pass.
Practice gratitude whenever you feel down. Remind yourself of what you have and in which ways your life is already pretty awesome.
Now I’d love to hear from you!
What situation have you dealt with where you displayed Courage?
Or maybe you have another great quote regarding Courage? Don’t hesitate to submit it via this form or leave a comment 📝
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