How often do we get disturbed by banalities?
It’s not worth to lose our calm over trifles. Especially not if these things are not under our own control.
The Stoics are clear: Make the best of what you control, and take the rest as it happens.
We can all benefit from emotional resilience. So we don’t get jerked around by outside circumstances and other people’s thoughtless actions.
Adopt these Stoic mindsets to remain your cool head when others lose their temper.
Buy Tranquility Instead
“Starting with things of little value—a bit of spilled oil, a little stolen wine—repeat to yourself: ‘For such a small price I buy tranquility and peace of mind.’” – EPICTETUS
We have the power to choose tranquility over disturbance.
We step into dog shit. Glasses break. Other drivers cut you off. These things happen so often, so why should we get angry and irritated?
Buy tranquility instead.
Before you react to a situation, ask yourself: “Is this really so bad? Or is it just ordinary?”
In most cases, these things are not even worth to mention and much less to get irritated. If you bring enough awareness into the situation, you have the power to overrule your initial impression and remain calm.
Step in between your automatic response and choose tranquility. Nod or smile, do what needs to get done, and move on with your life. Nothing really happened.
If you practice this mindset, you’ll soon realize that the banalities that often disturb you are not worth the hassle. Nod and move on. This will save you countless nerves and energy.
Scratches Happen in Training
“When your sparring partner scratches or head-butts you, you don’t then make a show of it, or protest, or view him with suspicion or as plotting against you. And yet you keep an eye on him, not as an enemy or with suspicion, but with a healthy avoidance. You should act this way with all things in life. We should give a pass to many things with our fellow trainees. For, as I’ve said, it’s possible to avoid without suspicion or hate.” – MARCUS AURELIUS
In this life, we’re all just training. We try to give our best. Sometimes we do well, sometimes not so.
It’s normal to make mistakes. We make many of them. And so do others.
If we take everyday situations as training exercises, we’re much calmer and forgiving toward others. We accept minor blows quicker even if they are annoying. Such is life.
Don’t blame your sparring partner. Don’t blame the situation. Life happens, people act like jerks, nobody is always at their best.
With this mindset, the stakes become much lower. And we’re more generous with mistakes, get less irritated, and become more resilient.
Imagine the boxer in training. They won’t blame their partner for a hard punch. They take it, nod it off, and continue their training.
We cannot afford to react to every tiny scratch. These things happen in life. Smile and move on.
“We can familiarize ourselves with the will of nature by calling to mind our common experiences. When a friend breaks a glass, we are quick to say, ‘Oh, bad luck.’ It’s only reasonable, then, that when a glass of your own breaks, you accept it in the same patient spirit… We would do better to remember how we react when a similar loss afflicts others.” – EPICTETUS
Ever observed how much harsher we are on ourselves than others?
When you break a cup, you’re quick to judge yourself as clumsy. But when the exact same thing happens to your friend, you take it easy and calmly say, “Things break, man. It happens to the best of us.”
It’s much smarter to react in as a compassionate when it happens to ourselves. We’re not so special… So why should we make a mountain out of a molehill when it affects us, and take it easy when it happens to your friend?
Doesn’t make any sense, right?
Adopt this mindset: When something “bad” happens to you, imagine it happened to your best friend. How much more compassionate and forgiving will you be with yourself?
Look, if the exact same situation is not worth disturbance when it happens to your best friend, then it’s not worth when it happens to you neither.
Be kind with yourself. Don’t lose your temper over such minor blows.
Adopt these Stoic beliefs and you’ll be more emotionally resilient. You will be able to remain calm an extra time. So that you can express your best self more often.
Jonas Salzgeber is the author of The Little Book of Stoicism and blogs for a small army of remarkable people at njlifehacks.com. He’s an expert in Stoic philosophy and passionate about self-made dark chocolate and buttered coffee with collagen.