Lately I feel like a real contrarian on this blog. I don’t think anything I have to say will resonate with anyone. Remember when I wrote fashion posts? Me neither. I don’t feel like advising anyone on fashion when I work with millennials who in many cases look and dress better than Gal Meets Glam. I can’t relate much to the constant stream of articles and blog posts about continual self-improvement trends that change every other week.
But here’s something I’ve been thinking, and it is indeed a contrarian position: Most people have within them their own answers on how to improve themselves. These answers are based on an individual calculus of meeting necessary responsibilities, but also enjoying life. And so, I spend my time working on my career, staying on budget, helping my kids do homework, read and learn, entertaining my family (my brother lives here now – woo-hoo!), doing fun stuff occasionally with my husband and participating in sports I actually enjoy. And sleep! I need sleep on the weekend, and I don’t care any more if people make snide comments about it. I need that sleep for optimal performance.
I feel this way because I have embraced the stoics after initially resisting them. The stoics were early to the personal growth canon, but ultimately what they wanted to do was not let life get them down. A lot of exercises they did were to inure themselves to life’s slings and arrows BEFORE they actually happened. Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher, would imagine all the terrible things people would say to him during the course of one day when he first woke up. Then, when people DID say terrible things (I guess Rome was a golden age of insults, and he heard lots of crap in the course of a day like, “Hey Marco, your son is kind of a weasel”), because of the early morning practice, he would be like, “Eh, that wasn’t not so bad.”
That’s one example, but others are quite profound. The stoics would say: counting on the best things happening to you is a recipe for unhappiness. Let go of that. By imagining the worst things happening, you can address how you feel about it, then let go of the panic – then truly appreciate what you have WHILE you have it.
Maggie and Nicole had a really interesting post about complaining. I think complaining is what we do when we think we need – and deserve to have the best things happen to us. We want: partners who are perfect, this house, this body, kids who never give us a moment of trouble. I definitely have my moments of wanting this stuff. But all of these things are NEVER going to happen. So why continually be surprised that they continue to not arrive?
So I no longer complain much. Like Marie Kondo’s method, I think complaining is (mostly) a waste of my time. When I thought more about Maggie and Nicole’s post I realized something interesting. My blog posts with sturm and drang DO get more attention. The highest number of comments I ever got was for some rant about a bad travel day. If I am not going to complain, will anyone care what I have to say? Or comment?
I’m guessing no, so bring on the crickets! But like I told a blogging friend recently, sometimes it’s just nice to know that this platform is here, where we can still write. Even if no one cares – our voices are still here. I might not be talking about what anyone cares about, and so I should expect nothing in return. The stoics would demand no less.
Stoics – yay or nay? Marie Kondo – yay or nay?