Negative Visualization

Positivty.

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

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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

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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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Living vs Being Alive

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”

-Epictetus

I want to understand why people do things. I think that’s why I was drawn to the arts. Through film or writing, I can explore the thoughts of people that I have never met that live on another continent and sometimes they aren’t even real.

I think the central conflict that every person faces is the fact that one day we will die and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  We spend life trying to cope with that reality in different ways. Death stands in the corner of our eye each passing second and we either ignore it or accept it.

Up until relatively recently I was obsessed with death. Rather than standing in the corner of my eye, Death stood in the center blocking the view of everything else.  I spent every moment of the day terrified, and every dream was a nightmare. There were so many things I wanted to do before I died.

It occurred to me, after much thought and study, that I had to live. If you spend each second ruminating on death, then you are already dead.

I have found that the most courageous thing you can do as a human being is to live, not simply being alive. You need to experience everything you can. The world is as beautiful as it is ugly. To live you need to seek out new adventures.

A fun exercise is to take something familiar and create something new out of it. There are endless possibilities and you should try to explore as many as you can.

If you were to die right now, would you be satisfied with what you would leave behind?

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