Welcome events as they happen

“Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace”

Epictetus, Enchiridion, Chapter 8

In our world today, I have a sense that there is a belief that we have an expectation to get what we want. For things to turn out the way we want them to. If we put our thoughts out into the universe, we will be rewarded. If we do the right then, then a fantastic outcome will be granted upon us. That we will receive a divine benevolence. 

If the take the traditional Stoic worldview, that is not how the world works. The world, and our cosmos, operates according to Nature. It is a living being. God, who pervades the entire cosmos, forms the cosmos into a harmonious whole and orders events in a providential manner. In fact, these external events are morally indifferent. No event can possible be inherently bad. Instead, these adverse situations (well, how we may see them anyway) can offer one an opportunity to train, practice and develop one’s virtue.

I see this as the world will act out its own agenda, and this may mean that things that we would prefer not to happen to us will. In fact, what happens is fated and will happen regardless of what we want, but that doesn’t mean we are powerless. Within our power is to control what we want. To know what is up to us and to use what is up to us correctly, making sure this capacity is treated with due respect and even reverence.

A focus then is on our care for the self. In our modern world, what could this look like? Examples may include:

  • Irrespective of what happens, we can feel grateful that we can hold the view that whatever happens to us is “good enough for me,” and we can attend to the situation at hand
  • Being comfortable with being with our self. This means avoiding distraction or looking for things to occupy our time. To be with our self rather than impulsively going to our emails, or apps, or vices rather than than face ourselves or silence. To not be frustrated by having to turn inward or by having ‘nothing’ to do
  • Taking a moment to reflect that under any condition that we are in, we have access to our ruling faculty and autonomy
  • Examining our first impressions, taking a pause, and examining if we are forming the correct opinion of what is happening, questioning if harm is actually being done to us

We can wish for life to turn out exactly how we want it to, with no inconvenience, stress, grief, or hardship. That’s not how it’s going to be. Instead, we need to welcome events as they happen, to go with the flow of the river, to build our own character and respond to these situations in a way we ought to. Virtuously. 

Easier written than down. I fall short all the time. I am getting better. I see the Sage, and am trying to become more like him. 






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