Search
  • Admin

“Things could be worse". An important lesson.


How many times in a given day am I ungrateful, resentful or fearful when its not necessarily the best course of action? I think it would be fair to venture that is many handfuls. It may not be a major thing but a passing thought.

  1. “Shit is raining again. Making it to my car is going to suck."

  2. “I’m all out of the food I prepared for the week. Damn! What am I going to have for dinner tonight?"

  3. “I’ve driven to Kirksville twice in the past two weeks. That’s 12 hours of drive time. This is insane!"

  4. “This house purchase is stressing me out."

  5. “I just had a root canal this week. How can another tooth be bothering me?!"

One of the more powerful tools the stoics used is called “negative visualization”. The idea is, picturing the loss of something or someone or how things could be worse. The goal of this is to be grateful for what we have rather than what we lack or what is frustrating us. Let’s take the examples above.

  1. “Shit is raining again. Making it to my car is going to suck."

  2. What if I didn’t have a car? What if I didn’t have an umbrella? What if it was hailing instead of raining?

  3. “I’m all out of the food I prepared for the week. Damn! What am I going to have for dinner tonight?"

  4. I need to remember I am lucky to be able to afford food in the first place. That within reason I can run to the grocery or pickup something prepared if preferable. To be grateful I have clean, well-stocked kitchen in which to make a meal.

  5. “I’ve driven to Kirksville twice in the past two weeks. That’s 12 hours of drive time. This is insane!"

  6. I’m fortunate my boss let me take off from a mandatory work summit to speak to college students. She might not be so understanding. I’m fortunate I can afford the gas and have a car to get myself there. I’m fortunate to have an iPhone full of podcasts and music to entertain myself during the drive.

  7. “This house purchase is stressing me out."

  8. I’m lucky I can afford the downpayment on a house in the first place.

  9. “I just had a root canal this week. How can another tooth be bothering me?!"

  10. This discomfort sucks but it won’t kill me. I will survive. I’m lucky I have dental insurance.

The final thing I would offer up since sometimes its helpful to see things outside of our own skin is a similar stoic tactic called, “projective visualization”. The crux of the principle is, the next time something bad/stressful happens, imagine it was happening to a friend and they were telling us about it or we witnessed it directly. Would we flip out would we attempt to calm them down? Would we remind them of that things could be worse and the things they can still be grateful for?

Go Forth Boldly


7 views