Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meaning and control and other such good stuff

Came back from an awesome book club meeting. On my way back, I was listening to the radio and caught a bit of 'Ideas' on CBC. Their guest on the show today was William Irvine, who was talking about his book 'A guide to the Good Life (the ancient art of stoic joy.)'

Whatever little I heard of the programme was pretty good. If I get hold of a transcript or something, I'll post a link. Because my paraphrasing just wont do! You've got to read or hear the real thing.

One of the things he talked about was control and how little we have of it. We can control very few things in our lives but our emotions are one of them. And stoics strive to do that. For instance we can't control if the sun will rise tomorrow but we can control how we feel about that...

He talks about how people are mostly unhappy because they always want to be somewhere else than where they are in life, all the time. And we keep blaming circumstances, other people's behaviours and external events for our unhappiness when in reality our happiness is in our control, in how we choose to think or feel. Again I wish I had his exact words here. He said it much better than this.

This kind of fit in with a video I was watching recently by Morty Lefkoe. Lefkoe talks about how events are separate from our reactions to them. If someone does not talk to you, you might interpret it as anger towards you. Or perhaps you might think they are being rude. Or you may think they don't know the language. All of these are meanings that you're giving the event. The event is that the other person didn't talk. But what meaning have you taken away from it? If you're a person with low self-esteem, you probably took a meaning that confirmed your low opinion of yourself. Except that you have now (falsely) attributed the meaning as coming from someone else. It's all in your head people! ;-)

How many meanings have you created recently from simple events that inherently have no meaning? As long as we're the ones creating the meanings, why don't we create some positive ones?

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陽明山花季 said...
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