In this series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English. In Letter 13, he discussed why you should trust your own judgment.
The difficulties that life throws at us gives us the opportunity to deal with our thoughts in a rational way. Thoughts are the only things we can control. We can’t control the external event itself, just how label and react to it. These challenges increase our resilience, judgment and promote improvement. Resilience is something you can’t learn from a book, you have to learn by doing.
When you’re frustrated, disappointed, or bored. … it’s because you’re only using judgment to see the “bad” side of things. That means you’re blinding yourself to the whole picture. Do you notice your own aliveness, the sunlight around you, the wonderful sounds of the day that surround you? In each moment, there are amazing things to notice, and when we’re focused only on the parts we don’t like, we’re stuck in tunnel vision, and therefore missing out on the greatness of life.
Often we worry and use judgement to label things which have either happened (so we can’t change them) or may never happen. Both of these are indifferent as there is nothing much we can do about them. Try to be content and focus your attention on the present moment. The best you can do is to live a good life and seek happiness in the here and now. When you face a setback, it’s not the end of the road … it’s a part of it. No journey worth traveling is free of discomfort and setbacks. If we want to grow, we have to go through challenges. So do no use judgment to classify each challenge you face — instead of thinking negatively about it, see the beauty of it being a part of your personal growth.
Some more advice: I recommend that you don’t listen to others who tell you why they think things are terrible. The only person you should listen to is you, your own thoughts. Don’t rely on the thoughts of other people who say a situation isn’t great until you alone conclude this. If you don’t do this then you are in danger of being influenced by others. Perhaps the thing of concern is bad for them but not for you? If you use judgment to say that your understanding and knowledge is lacking before you come to a conclusion, then ask someone who you can trust. You have to decide who this person is. So, in a similar way to resilience you should monitor situations and your reactions to them. Practice separating the thoughts of others from your own.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Don’t wait until you’re old before you follow your passion. Live the life you want to while you still have time on your side.