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.