The human tendency to suffer emotionally from the clash between expectations and reality, drawing wisdom from Walt Whitman’s adaptation to his disability and Marcus Aurelius’s Stoic philosophy. It emphasizes calibrating expectations and understanding the nature of things as remedies for this self-inflicted suffering. The insights of Marcus Aurelius are examined in particular detail, presenting Stoicism as a tool for understanding and embracing reality, thus mitigating anger and disappointment.
- The Conflict Between Expectations and Reality: Most human suffering comes from the violent collision between what we expect and what really is. This clash often results in anger and disappointment, and the article posits that the solution is to align our expectations with reality.
- Influence of Walt Whitman and Stoicism: Whitman’s adjustment to his paralytic stroke by aligning his expectations with his new reality is used as an illustration. Additionally, the Stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is explored, particularly his emphasis on seeing things clearly and understanding their true nature.
- Practical Application of Stoic Principles: The article presents specific insights from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, providing practical wisdom on how to approach others’ behavior and our own responses to it. This includes an emphasis on kindness, reason, and understanding the nature of things.
- Value of Clarity and Right Action: Clarity of vision, according to Marcus Aurelius, is the basis for rightful action. By understanding things in their true form and responding with reason and kindness, one can lead to what the Romans termed “the good life.”
- Contemporary Relevance of Stoic Wisdom: The lessons drawn from Marcus Aurelius’s writings are presented as timeless tools for navigating existential challenges. They offer a counterpoint to modern outrage culture and present a path towards understanding and peace, emphasizing the continuous relevance of ancient Stoic teachings.