Everyone wants to be a optimistic person full of happiness and kitschy inspirational quotes. While there is nothing wrong with positivty or optimism, it doesn’t provide you shelter from the storms that blow through our lives.
True adversity shatters this view. While it is easy to maintain an optimistic attitude when things go your way, what do you when things do not?
“Premeditatio malorum,” is a Latin phrase that means “the pre-meditation of evils.” It was a practice championed by the Ancient Stoics. Instead of minimizing the bad things that can happen in our lives, the Stoics argued that we should periodically meditate on what could wrong and losing what we now have. The practice has found a resurgence, in more recent times, under the more concise name, “Negative Visualization.”
The Stoics, despite advocating thinking negatively, did not spend all their time brooding in the dark being sad. Instead they became more grateful of the things they had and more prepared when adversity faced them.
“It is not that we are given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”
– Seneca the Younger
Gratitude and Joy
As someone who suffers from OCD, I understand your natural reservations on negative visualization. No one likes to imagine the worst befalling themselves.
Since consciously practicing, I have experienced nothing, but good results. The natural restlessness that usually accompanies me has softened, I feel less bored, and I have take more interest in surroundings. Instead of feeling dissatisfied with my situation, I feel grateful to be alive.
“By contemplating the impermanence of everything in the world, we are forced to recognize that every time we do something could be the last time we do it, and this recognition can invest the things we do with a significance and intensity that would otherwise be absent . We will no longer sleepwalk through our life. Some people, I realize, will find it depressing or even morbid to contemplate impermanence. I am nevertheless convinced that the only way we can be truly alive is if we make it our business periodically to entertain such thoughts.”
-William B. Irvine
Thanks for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful 2019.
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