A good idea for achieving peace of mind is to learn to downgrade the perceived severity of a threat from, “What if this happens?” To, “How will I cope.” To, “So what if this happens?” “It’s not the end of the world.” Separating our value judgments from the facts can often reduce our anxiety.
7. Negative visualization.
The stoic philosophers recommended that we spend time imagining that we have lost the things we value. Doing so will make us value what we already have. Rather than desiring things that are absent (the ‘grass is always greener’ mentality), we should practice gratitude for the things we already have in life.
8. Managing unhealthy desires.
The key to breaking a bad habit (e.g., overeating) is to spot them early so that you can nip them. As the 16th-century French essayist, Michel de Montaigne remarked, “The infancies of all things are feeble and weak. We must keep our eyes open at their beginnings; you cannot find the danger then because it is so small; once it has grown, you cannot find the cure.”
This requires persistent self-monitoring, especially looking out for any distorted thoughts that might excuse the desire (e.g., I have not had a drink for a while; this is going to be my last treat, and then I’ll start my diet).
Nietzsche famously remarked, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ We can view any experience of emotional pain as an opportunity that will strengthen our ability to better deal with any future pain. Seneca remarked, “No man knows his own strength or value but by being put to the proof.”
10. Letting go of excessive attachment to external things.
Attachment implies a holding on, or wanting things to be a certain way. Clinging to things, especially to a sense of self, is what creates suffering. Stoics were famous for cultivating indifference toward external things and disregarding praise and criticism from others. As indicated in the ancient book, The Way of Life by Lao-Tze: “If you never assume importance, You never lose it.”
Pigliucci, Massimo (2017), How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life. NY: Baic Books. Robertson, Donald (2019), How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, St. Martin's Press.
Written By Shahram Heshmat Originally Appeared In Psychology Today
Life is full of obstacles, and no matter how much you hate them, you cannot do anything other than face them head-on. No matter what life throws at you, these are some of the best ways to get through difficult times. Be strong, have faith in yourself, and draw from your inner strength, and see how you emerge victoriously.