December 17 , 2019

9:30 am: Today, I want to work on a suggestion that Marcus Aurelius made several thousand years ago: “Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.” It’s wonderful to feel the truth in this – that the only genuine harm always comes from inside me, from my own thoughts and attitudes. If I turn my thoughts and attitudes around, what seems to be harmful could actually be an opportunity a chance to somehow learn and grow. The ancient Stoics called this “turning a situation upside down”, wherein a ‘bad’ situation can be flipped over in my thoughts and attitude and actually become a ‘good’ one, a situation which could teach me valuable lessons. Today, I hope to practice doing this kind of flipping – looking for the positive somewhere inside the negative, because it’s always there, if only my thoughts and attitude can find it. As Richard Rohr says in his meditation for today, “To be fully conscious would be to love everything on some level and in some way—even our mistakes.” I hope to practice that kind of love today.

7:24 pm: I kept fairly well focused today on avoiding “feeling harmed” by situations, as Marcus Aurelius suggested. At one point, I was sitting at my computer and beginning to feel my typical frustration because the computer wasn’t working as fast as I wanted, when – bingo – the ancient stoic’s advice popped into my mind. I realized that if I chose not to be harmed by this situation, then, in fact, I would not be harmed. And so I made that choice, and sat quietly while the computer was slowly completing its task. I felt quite relaxed and even happy to be just sitting and waiting. I even noticed, for one of the very few times, a painting that has been hanging on our wall for at least a year. I leaned back in my chair and took in the painting with pleasure for a minute or two. When the computer finished its task, I was glad, but I was also glad for the few moments of appreciation for the painting. I realized that, because I had chosen not to feel harmed by the computer’s slowness, I had not been. Thank you, Marcus Aurelius.

Below, our chalkboard poem for today …

… our cozy fire tonight …

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