“The first principle of practical Stoicism is this: we don’t react to events; we react to our judgments about them, and the judgments are up to us.”― Ward Farnsworth, The Practicing Stoic
We’ve all been there. Staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, wrestling with questions we can’t answer, haunted by circumstances we can’t change. It feels like the universe is out to get us, right? But what if I told you that the root of your discontent isn’t the world around you, but your beliefs about it?
The Blueprint of Reality
Your beliefs are the blueprints of your reality. Just as architects use blueprints to construct a building, your mind uses your beliefs to construct your experience of the world. That experience might be a fortress or a prison, depending on the kind of blueprints you provide. If you believe you can’t handle the realities of life, guess what? You’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. But the cool part is, that you can change that blueprint at any moment.
The Belief of Discomfort
Let’s talk about discomfort. You lose your job, your partner leaves you, or maybe you’re just not where you thought you’d be in life. It’s uncomfortable, no doubt. But why is it that you can’t be comfortable with reality, regardless of what it is? What makes you believe that you can’t? It’s your belief system. Your internal narrative might tell you, “This is bad, this shouldn’t be happening to me,” and suddenly, your belief makes the reality all the more unbearable.
Imagine if you changed that narrative to: “This is uncomfortable, but I can handle it. I can find comfort in discomfort.” This doesn’t mean you become a masochist, deriving some twisted pleasure from your hardships. No, it means that you redefine what comfort means to you. You acknowledge the discomfort, but you’re not crippled by it. David Goggins, the ex-Navy SEAL, and ultra-endurance athlete, would call this “embracing the suck.” It’s about finding your inner resolve and leaning into the discomfort instead of running from it.
“We always feel as though we react to things in the world; in fact we react to things in ourselves. And sometimes changing ourselves will be more effective and sensible than trying to change the world.”― Ward Farnsworth, The Practicing Stoic
The Stoic Principle of Perception
If you’re familiar with Stoicism, you’d have heard about the idea that we can’t control external circumstances, only our reactions to them. Epictetus once said, “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.” So, when the world throws its worst at you, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “How can I respond to this in a way that aligns with who I am or who I want to be?”
How to Flip the Switch
Easier said than done, right? Flipping the switch on long-held beliefs isn’t like flipping a light switch. It’s a process. First, identify the belief that’s causing you discomfort. Challenge it, question its validity, look for counter-evidence. Then, reconstruct a more empowering belief. Write it down, if you have to. Repeat it to yourself. Live it until it becomes as real to you as the old belief once was.
Freedom and Comfort: The New Normal
The greatest freedom comes from the realization that comfort is a state of mind, not a set of circumstances. When you understand this, you reclaim the power to be comfortable in any situation. And let me tell you, that’s some real power right there. The power to be cool as a cucumber while the world is on fire? That’s the stuff of legends.
So, are you tired of being dictated by outdated, limiting beliefs? Then don’t just sit there lamenting. Change your blueprint, one belief at a time. And while you’re at it, don’t just aim for a better life. Aim for a life so good that the old you wouldn’t even recognize it.
Your beliefs can be your biggest obstacles or your greatest allies. The choice is yours. Redefine comfort. Redefine life. After all, you’re the architect of your reality.
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