Frustration is something we’ve all experienced. According to the Stoics, it can be eliminated. How?
“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”
Expect resistance. This is by far one of the best quotes you’ll find in the God Of War games. If you haven’t played it before, I’ll tell you a little bit about it. In the game, Kratos, the god of war, lives in the far north, in exile apparently, after he flees Greece. He has a happy life there, with his wife, and a son. The wife dies and leaves Kratos and his son alone. That’s when the adventure begins, but the son needs to learn and learn from a harsh, brutal master, the god of war himself. As they fight their way through the cold forests and magic places, they need to fight and solve puzzles and the like. The son, frustrated, yells at some point, why can nothing be just easy! Expect resistance, murmurs Kratos. Such a valuable lesson, because for us as well, it’s just the same, we need to expect resistance.
Life doesn’t always go, or better said, almost never goes according to plan, something always happens. At the same time, we have goals we want to achieve. We have financial goals, relationship goals, personal goals, you name it. And we work hard towards them, and we experience massive amounts of frustration when problems arise.
All that perturbation could be avoided if we just switched our focus. You see, we become frustrated because we are overly focused on the external instead of the internal. Frustration comes from wanting the world to be a certain way. But the world will do whatever the world wants, and if we place our hopes in the world accomodating to our expectations, we will never be at peace.
Therefore, the only thing we can do is to switch our focus and place it on the only part of ourselves that we can control and do something about, our will.
The world will do whatever the world will do, expect resistance.
Expect resistance because you will not give up on whatever it is that you want to achieve, you will keep going and pushing, that’s on you. It is a huge lesson to learn.
Of course, you will not always feel happy with this advice. Kratos, the god of war, more than a happy face, shows an acceptance face, he may not like what he has to fight along the way, but he does it anyway.
“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Life can be peaceful, but other times not so much. Sometimes it does feel like war, especially when you are tired, hungry, and desperate. But how cool can you stay in those situations? How clear-headed? Those are the tests that life gives to the aspiring Stoics, they are harsh tests, and many of us fail them miserably again and again. But we must stand up again and again, and grin, and keep at it. We must switch our focus from wishful aspiring to measured action and movement. We will go for what we want, but remember, my friend…
Thanks for reading,