Having a Bad Day? Marcus Aurelius Has Some Advice For How to Turn Things Around
Let's face it, we've all had some rough days in this life. Whether it's things going wrong at home, work, anywhere else, when nothing seems to go right, there are still things we can do to take control of the situation in our own minds at minimum.
One overarching theme mentioned in the article comes from one quote of Aurelius':
"Nothing has to go right today for you to act with honor and character."
That's a profound perspective on life. No matter what happens, we can still react to life and carry ourselves in honorable ways. And there will be things that go wrong in life, that's for sure.
So what can we do to turn a bad day around? In Aurelius' "Meditations," he says that it is incumbent on us to recognize that this world will throw obstacles at us, and to not battle with reality.
"We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.”
And what must we do to further overcome that? Yet again, take control of the situation in our minds first.
“Concentrate every minute…on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can—if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable.”
This advice reminds me of a song by a band called Kutless, in which they sing "Freedom is sometimes just simply another perspective away." The key to turning things around in our lives does not necessarily depend on everything else changing, but on changing ourselves first.
(Here's a link to the song, if you'd like to take a listen):