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When life goes wrong: try this

Philosopher John Sellars explores stoicism, the ancient school of philosophy, and how it can help us cope when life goes awry

by Psychologies

Life goes wrong

2 minute read

Accept

Nature is in a continual process of change – nothing is stable and there is nothing we can do about it. All we can do is come to terms with events that are beyond our control and focus our efforts on the things that are within our control.

Pause

It is important not to react impulsively to events. Take a moment and reflect before making a judgement on a situation. If someone says something critical about you, consider whether it is true or false. If it is true, they have pointed out a flaw you can address. If it is false, the one truly being undermined is them. The only way their remark could cause you real harm is if you allow it to provoke you into a state of anger.

Be clear about what you want

For many, the goal is ‘success’ – wealth, fame or respect. But philosopher Seneca notes that people who attain such things may be far from satisfied because success also brings pressure; living in a constant state of distraction, never fully attending to what we should be doing or doing what we truly want.

Embrace adversity

Good fortune can be bad for us. How are we ever tested if we don’t experience difficulty? How do we develop resilience and courage? There is no worse luck than unending luxury, says Seneca – it makes us ungrateful and lazy. By contrast, adversity is a chance to grow.

Lessons In Stoicism’ by John Sellars (Penguin, £9.99)

Image: Getty

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