Most people often struggle when it comes to accepting change. We as human beings are creatures of habit. Change is a constant part of existence and is necessary for the growth of anything and everything. Though we are all aware of this, emotionally, many of us are reluctant to accept change. Most people tend to equate change to inconvenience, disturbance, or discomfort. We despise change regardless of the fact that the only times we experience problems, stress, crisis or tension are those times when we resist change.
People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.Marcus Aurelius
Change and deluge of choice
We all experience change in different aspects of our work or personal life. These changes can be pertaining to personal or professional relationships, or change in our perceived sense of self-worth, or it might even be as simple as things not going as we want them to. Certain changes can however be difficult to cope with where one needs to figure out how to carry on in the wake of any hardship, or difficulty.
Our attention becomes divided and fragmented in situations that appear to be unknown or unfamiliar. But while some people endure change and overcome hardships, some cannot. Also, because of information overload and increased connectivity, in a short time one has to adapt to large amount of information and options in any given time. This deluge of choice makes change even more difficult. And most of the times it so happens that we yield to those inputs that sound more familiar, rather than stepping back to evaluate in terms of their worthiness and value.
How we deal with change depends a lot on our mindset. Resilient people adapt to changing and stressful situations effectively and have the ability to bounce back from challenges, risks and failure. Stoicism guides us towards making better choices in times of change. Understanding what stoicism is and its virtues can better equip us to do the right thing inspite of fear and reluctance.
Stoicism and it’s four virtues
Stoicism is a popular philosophy emotional management in pursuit of enduring inner peace and happiness. And was followed by many world’s great leaders and stoics in the pursuit of moral excellence. Stoicism emphasised that happiness and personal fulfilment are the natural consequences of doing the right thing. Living in a virtuous manner is the foundation on which stoic virtues are based.
Stoics believe that people don’t react to events, but instead react to their perception of them. Though this is an ancient philosophy, it is more relevant now than ever before. Since perception and judgment is always up to the person, effort can always be made to shift that in favour of making more wise choices. This in a way directs your attention to things and people that really matter. Stoic virtues make a person more resilient, where he or she can think more clearly in the face of change.
It’s first virtue, the virtue of wisdom allows us to see the world more clearly and helps us determine what is good and what is bad. Wisdom of seeing things for what they are, and not what we wish they could be. Since most of us are conditioned by our beliefs and perceptions, we tend to fear the unfamiliar if they happen to be limited, biased or negative.
As matter of fact most of the times they are influenced by our emotions, past experiences and other popular perceptions. This is the reason why our conventional thinking often makes us avoid change and preserve status quo. Most of our acquired beliefs make us engage in thoughtless actions that sometimes undermine our own well-intentioned efforts.
But with this virtue, you grow in your ability to focus on the reason, and grow in your ability to see things more objectively. When you look beyond your lens of emotions and opinions, you become well equipped to guide your actions more deliberately. You can take stock of your choices good or bad to persevere.
There is nothing that prevents you from searching for an opportunity in difficult situations. To do so, one requires a great deal of courage. Courage guides us to make right choices and do the right thing despite our fear, desire or anxiety. This virtue allows you to overcome feelings that cause cowardice. Instead of reacting instinctively, you learn to persevere through adversity.
The goal however is not to suppress or eliminate negative impulses, but it is the ability to retain strength and stand by your morals in the face of fear. As a result, you make an effort to overcome events, however dire they seem to be. Understanding that all things unfold as they do regardless of how you feel about them lets you be guided by reason rather than fear.
Without developing this virtue, you might focus more on the possible inconvenience, problems, or uncertainty. We sometimes might draw wrong conclusions of changing circumstances when we lack this virtue. Conversely, being brave allows you to make useful interpretations of events that are far more helpful to figure out the right thing to do in our real life situations.
Temperance also called moderation relates to self-restraint and self-control. Courage is essential, however, to remain stable in all circumstances, it also requires doing everything to moderation. Because bravery without temperance or moderation can sometimes turn into recklessness. Doing the right thing in right amount in the right way is important to retain your steadfastness.
Many of us delude ourselves into thinking that doing more what makes you feel good fosters comfort. With this virtue, one can detach themselves from such extremes and show moderation despite your desire for unnecessary indulgence. This virtue disciplines you to develop self-control to not to allow temptation cloud your judgment, or let negative emotions control your choices. In a way, it helps you distinguish between immediate gratification and meaningful, lasting rewards.
This final virtue acts like your moral compass and guides all of your other virtues. This virtue also known as morality helps in fair dealing, being honest and understanding. It promotes doing what us right and fair, particularly when the going gets tough.
Most of the times, we find ourselves robotically living out of norms or become insensitive towards others. Some of our beliefs make us focus in the trivial at the expense of the vital and meaningful things. This stoic virtue helps to develop an inner moral code to be just and treat others with dignity and respect.
Significance of stoic mindset
With stoic mindset one can make more meaningful choices possible within the particular personal life circumstances they find themselves in. You grow in your ability to view yourself, the world and people more objectively and accept their nature as it is. This prevents you from being controlled by the fear of uncertainty or when self-doubt keeps you stuck.
Stoicism also teaches you to effectively meet the challenges of daily life, and to deal with life’s inevitable changes, regrets, and disappointments. Instead of making excuses to avoid the problems you develop the ability to respond to changing situations more constructively. This lets you drop false narratives that your mind tries to spin on, so you base your choices on logical reasoning. This serves as basis for right action, leading to virtue of wisdom and moderation.
The purpose of developing a stoic mindset is to morally train yourself, rather than avoiding, resenting or dodging your life’s situations. When you resort to whining or blaming, you refuse to see your possibilities and get stuck. This minimises the importance you would place on external choices, and instead lets you concentrate on the small but significant inner choices that free you from the hold of your fears.
Stoicism and awareness of control
When you adapt to resilient mindset, you gain awareness of what is within your control. And where you can influence yourself to change for a more happy and fulfilling life. Not being aware of what is within your control and what is not leaves you feeling powerless or ineffective in making wise choices. Whereas growing in these virtues, you become more aware of the areas of life that are outside the reach of your control.
Knowing the difference between what is within your power to influence and what is not. Rather than blaming others for your hardships or adversities, you take responsibility of things that are within your control, that is your thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and actions. This leads to becoming more effective and efficient in solving problems easily.
Stoic mindset improves your perception of change
Our perception is what we see in any given situation, or the way in which something os understood or interpreted. However, we don’t all see things as the same way or in other words, our perception isn’t always a true reflection of reality. Because most of the times, how we perceive a lot depends on things that we believe either consciously or unconsciously. We often have incorrect beliefs about situations we are in. These beliefs lead to difficulties and unhappiness.
But using stoic virtues, these beliefs can be challenged to shift to a more broader perspective. This makes it easier to accept that at any given point of time, you have the ability to change your mind by taking a new perspective. As a result, you respond more constructively to change and other real life circumstances you find yourself in.
- Accept responsibility for your thoughts and actions. Remind yourself that you are responsible for what you perceive in the moment, how you respond, your thoughts and beliefs.
- When you are met with unexpected change or challenges, instead of complaining, look for a way to improve your situation. Focus on areas where you can really make a difference to better cope up with change.
- Try and pay attention to the things you have rather than the things you lack. Gratitude reduces the negative impact of difficult situations that would normally cause stress or suffering.
- Take some time to reflect on the way you perceive your ability to face change. Figuring out how willing are you to change your limiting beliefs and long standing perceptions allows you to see things in different perspective.
To sum up,
With stoicism, we grow in our ability to respond in the right way to unexpected changes, hardships and to adversity. Developing these virtues gets you out of your personal delusions that hinder your ability to think clearly, so you can evaluate changes in terms of worthiness and value. Guided by reason, self-control and discipline, you can develop a greater sense of acceptance by integrating all of these virtues in your daily behaviours.