Monday, 9 November 2015


A few weeks ago I was listening to Tapestry on CBC radio and one of the interviews was with a philosophy professor,  Massimo Pigliucci.  The interview struck a chord with me and I looked into it a bit more.  I came across a handbook, "Live Like A Stoic For A Week" and I thought I'd give it a shot.  I tried a bit.  Did a little meditating.  Thought about myself in the grand scheme of things. 

Then I got shingles and  I fell down and hit my head but I still tried to remember one key concept, the question I need to ask myself always, "Is this in my control?"  And if the answer is no, to let it go.

So far, not so bad.  I work with a couple of nurses who would not win any nurse of the year awards.  One is oblivious and lazy, while the other is rude and a drama queen.  Neither one are exactly competent.  They push all my buttons and I usually lose it on them about once a year.  I'm tired of having my buttons pushed. 

Last week, even though I felt like death warmed over, I asked the question, "Is this in my control?"  And if it wasn't, and it usually isn't, then I let go of it.  That's pretty good for me.  When I feel like crap my patience for bullshit is very low. 

This week I feel like a human being again.  My head is still a little scrambled from hitting it but not too bad.  Although I did ask a friend about her pretzels, instead of her shingles this morning. 

Most of all though I'm trying to remember to stand back and ask myself that question and then move on.  I also try to remember that in the history of the earth, my life has about as much significance as a squirrel or a thistle for that matter.  So when things are bugging me, I think about the squirrel and the thistle.  Sounds like an English pub to me but it makes me feel better.  Then I ask myself, "Is this in my control?"

At least I know I'm not alone.  Turns out the Greeks where thinking about this kind of stuff five thousand years ago.  It's kind of comforting.

8 comments:

  1. Oh, yes. This is a wonderful reminder. And now I'll ask the obvious: what about when things ARE in our control, or are we supposed to be so Zen that we realize NOTHING is in our control?

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    1. They believe there is very little within our control. Our feelings, our thoughts and our actions. We ultimately don't even have control of our body because we get sick and we will die.

      They value moderation, courage, justice, wisdom and rationality. They also believed that everything was interconnected and that we should strive to live in harmony with nature, understanding that we are a part of nature. We should embrace nature on it's own terms and accept our place within it as limited, finite beings with limited power and a limited lifespan--but also as parts of something much greater than us.

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  2. when we ARE in control we do the very most bestest, with compassion and heart, saying sorry to ourselves for every mistake and we burn hell and high heaven and swear a bit on the side. And after that we go back to The Squirrel and The Thistle and have a pint of whatever serves our needs best. (me thinks)

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    1. I would like to visit The Squirrel and The Thistle for a nice glass of wine after work one night. I'm much better at accepting my mistakes and forgiving myself now. Makes life much easier.

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  3. I read an interesting article about not worrying about things you can't control. It's premise was that it was much better to change worry into thoughts about positive outcomes. For example, when your kids are driving somewhere, instead of worrying that they will get into an accident, change that into positive thoughts about them arriving safely. It seems so simple but it actually helped me. And I like the idea of always putting positive energy into the universe.

    But I think I would disagree with your thoughts that your life is nothing more than a thistle. I tend to believe in the ripple effect. We may only be able to change the world by a tiny ripple, but our actions (especially love) ripple out into bigger and bigger circles until you have no idea how large they may have spread. And especially those of you in the health care professions, you may save someone, who goes on to nurture someone else, who goes on to make big changes. More than most, you have the potential to impact generations.

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    1. I think love is the most important thing we can do on this earth, that it's even the reason we are here. My reference to the thistle was how short our lives really are.

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  4. I do believe the only person we can overtly and consciously change is our self but, like 8thday, I also think sometimes our presence in the world creates a ripple effect that influences others - all the more reason to try and change ourselves for the better. I like what you are saying about figuring out what to let go of and using that particular question as a gauge. I am going to ask myself that question next time the old anxiety level starts to rise to see what happens. First I am going to have to try and wrap my mind around the concept of what "control" means. I guess that is the whole point of the exercise, though. Good stuff. I enjoyed the pretzel/shingles aside. So important to enjoy the humorous parts of living a life.

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    1. I agree, we can only change ourselves and I also agree that how we are in the world can affect others but we don't know if this is the case or not. We can only do our best.

      And humor, it's what keeps me going every single day. I love dirty jokes especially. I look like a nun but I swear like a sailor:)

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