The world is full of adversity. We move from challenge to challenge. The existence of the human race is evidence that we have triumphed over adversity. We all go through troubling times. We shall all go through pain and suffering at some point. The pain is essential to remind us of our infallibility. The pain is there to show us how to appreciate every moment we live. The suffering makes us stronger. We can learn to bear the pain gracefully.
This pandemic has brought a lot of suffering and pain around the world. We can learn a lot from the ancient stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus on how to handle this pain and suffering. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor who battled through wars, political rebellions, economic collapse, and pandemics. Epictetus was a slave for three decades and was physically disabled but turned out to be one of the most influential philosophers.
In his book called the Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday, points out three broad approaches on how to handle adversity.
The first is right perception. The adversity we face is not the worst thing in our lives. Despite what’s going on there is a lot of beauty in the world. There are so many things to be grateful for. Things could be worse. This adversity we face will make us stronger. It’s preparing us for a better world. It’s teaching us to be resilient. We need to be thankful that we are able to go through it.
The second is self less action. When we are faced with adversity we have to take the right action. This action should be on things we can control. Through this epidemic we can choose to avoid crowds, wear masks, and wash our hands. We do this to preserve our lives but also to protect the lives of others. Doing this is a self less action. We can also help those in need in anyway possible. We can comfort the grieving. We can contribute to the medical bills of the sick. We can donate our time and money to help those in need.
Finally we can gracefully accept our adversity. Accepting the loss of a loved one is tough but is a necessary step to healing. We can be comforted in the belief that we did all we could in the circumstances. Whatever happens thereafter is simply outside our control.
Remember adversity exists to make us stronger. Luckily we have all been blessed with a capacity to overcome adversity. All we need to do is look for the beauty around us, help those in need, and use our adversity to find meaning in this chaotic world.