Get Your Grip

You have two grips to choose in life: one where you see all the bad things that happen, or one where you see all the good things that happen.

Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be carried, the other by which it cannot.┬áIf your brother acts unjustly, don’t lay hold on the action by the handle of his injustice, for by that it cannot be carried; but by the opposite, that he is your brother, that he was brought up with you; and thus you will lay hold on it, as it is to be carried. – Epictetus

I have been forced to confront my view of life lately. I am living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, currently without work, an expensive flat, and lots of hurdles to obtaining an income. Seems bleak, right?

On the other hand, cities are full of opportunity – for where there are so many people, there are needs, and business is built off of solving needs. I have a flat that I am sharing with my wife and another friend, so there are several of us to earn income, reducing the weight of financial responsibility on any one of us. I have access to Wifi (via the use of two devices) if I visit a shopping center. I don’t really even have to buy coffee, although I can. And with that access to the internet, I can break down the obstacles one by one, and eliminate the hurdles to finding work.

So I find it expedient to tell myself to, “Get a grip!” The reality is that if I focus on the positive options, I will sooner see solutions and obtain the desired results. Focusing on the negative only serves to keep me in the world of minimal options and more difficulty.

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Stay Out of Prison

“What then is the punishment of those who do not accept? It is to be what they are. Is any person dissatisfied with being alone? Let him be alone. Is a man dissatisfied with his parents? Let him be a bad son, and lament. Is he dissatisfied with his children? Let him be a bad father. Cast him into prison. What prison? Where he is already, for he is there against his will; and where a man is against his will, there he is in prison.” – Epictetus

Denial of reality is a prison of our own making. Refusal to accept the actual state of things prevents us from making useful decisions. Complaint about our life situations locks the door on us and keeps us powerless in those situations for as long as we focus on the dissatisfaction.

How then do we stay out of this prison? We recognize each situation for what it is. Rather than complain about being alone, or being overwhelmed with people, see the isolation as solitude and reflect; see the abundance of contact as cause for celebration or opportunity to develop your network. Instead of complaining about poor treatment from others, see how you can treat others better. If your children aren’t turning out the way you desired, reflect on your actions that may have influenced the outcome. And then change what is not desirable. If your career isn’t developing the way you had hoped, find out the cause – don’t bemoan your fate.

We always have choices. We will always have undesirable truths to deal with. How we focus on our options means the difference between a life well lived, or a life wished for.