In a letter to his friend Lucilius, Seneca is quoted saying, “That there are more things that frighten us than injure us, and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.” What Seneca was trying to communicate is that we worry more than we should. We worry about things that happened, things that can happen, things that may happen if other things don’t happen, things that may never happen if other things happen, it’s just crazy.
Thing is, you don’t need to worry about the things you have control over, because you have control, neither do you need to worry about the things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about those. What is often lost to us in this mountain of worry is that as human beings we need to suffer, problems are part of who we are, they give our lives meaning. Viktor E. Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning says that “If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.” Look at it this way, what if you had no problems and everything went your way, is that life even worth living? Well, no one cares about your answer, it’s never going to happen anyway ???.
There are more things that frighten us than injure us, and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Let’s consider a deck of cards. A standard deck has 52 cards. Each unique. At the beginning of a game, every player is dealt a certain number. In whichever game, there are “good cards” and “bad cards”. Now, as much as getting the good cards is always desirable it is never a given to win the game. In fact, winning or losing the game depends more on the player than the cards dealt. Now consider your problems, take a pick; financial, relationships, legal, relatives the list is long and this blog is free so I’ll stop there. Any of these could be a cause of your problems. Do you know how I figured out? Easy, because I too have a ton of them.
You are not the first to have the problems that you are having. Just like there are 52 cards, the problems of man are common. And just like in the card game, your problems have less to do with your winning or losing in life. Our problem is we tend to worry too much about our problems that we actually end up not playing the game. Viktor Frankl says, “Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualised depends on decisions but not conditions. “What he means is that regardless of your cards, we have a game to play, one we must win. Winning depends on the decisions we make despite the cards we are dealt. Epictetus, another great philosopher puts it this way, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Take some advice from Kenny Rodgers,
“Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
in your sleep”
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”Epictetus
The list of great men and women who remained great despite their challenges is huge. I mean even God had problems. The guy created Adam and Eve, gave the two idiots everything and they still betrayed him. I can’t even start on the challenges Mohammed (p.b.u.h) faced in Medina. And Budhaa, having been born a prince, had to move to the streets and live like a pauper. Michael Jackson had a falling nose. Imagine waking up, going to brush your teeth and when you look into the mirror you can’t figure out why you look funny this morning. And to my scientific brothers, Albert Einstein wrote one of the worst scientific papers of all time. Albert Freaking Einstein. The same guy who almost gave us the Theory of Everything. And Seneca, arguably the best stoic, had to live in exile for 8 years. I mean just the other day Johnny Depp got his finger almost cut off. In fact, I dare you to come up with one person.. actually scratch that, come up with anything that has never faced a challenge. ANYTHING. Thing is, we often get so engraved into our problems, we let them define us. We let the cards (conditions) dictate the game. I know Linda, you are wondering what you should with your worries. Read on.
I mean even God had problems. The guy created Adam and Eve, gave the two idiots everything and they still betrayed him.
I’m not an expert but here’s what I suggest. To trivialise your worries, designate a time for them. No more than 30 minutes. Take this time to strictly think about your problems. I suggest you try find meaning or at least their funny side. For God’s sake get a sense of humour. If you can append meaning to your problems, that’s the jackpot. For the death of a loved one, for the terminal disease.. you know, real problems. But for the rest, like you are broke, or someone is not replying your texts.. come on. That sh!t is funny.