“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
— Marcus Aurelius, last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome
Many people hear quotes like this one and assume that it’s invalidating their feelings, or telling them to “just suck it up.” Although sometimes this is true, it isn’t what this quote embodies. Instead, this quote is encouraging people to flip the obstacles in their lives upside down and use them to build a ladder towards success.
Let’s be honest. Everybody struggles. Everybody has something in their life that’s holding them back or limiting them in some way. Not just the anxious, depressed, socially awkward, angry, or lonely people, but the confident, charismatic, outgoing, happy, and popular people too. Everybody struggles. Although some things we simply can’t change, we can always change our mindset about any certain issue. This is the central idea to the philosophy of Stoicism.
Control of your issues starts with your perception on your issues. Past blog posts have gone in depth on how identity and mentality are the only things that can solidly change the outcomes of our actions, so it makes sense that control of your mindset can do the same. The first step in doing so is disciplining your perception on life. Form habits of trying to see the positives in everything; even the most negative issues. Maybe you lost a limb — that just means you have one less thing to worry about training. Maybe you failed a math test — at least it’s done and in the past now. Discipline in thought leads to discipline in action. As a result, you’ll see more opportunities because you open up the possibilities of happiness. In other words, you can’t see positivity if you aren’t looking for it.
However, it’s not as simple as controlling your thoughts to be more positive. Ryan Holiday, author of “The Obstacle is the Way,” claims that it’s also absolutely crucial for you to control your nerves. You can’t genuinely change someone’s mind by raging and screaming in their face. You might be able to scare them into saying they agree with you, but the truth is that change comes from within. The same applies to the problems you have in your day to day life. You can’t get upset and suddenly make everything conform to your mindset. That being said, you can do the exact opposite to end up with the best possible outcome. It might not be exactly what you wanted it to be, but sometimes the things that are good for us aren’t the same as the things we want.
To summarize the first two steps in changing your negatives into positives: Shift your negative thoughts into positive thoughts using habit changing methods, then discipline your nerves and emotions so that they don’t make you stray from your path. As a result, you’ll achieve mental clarity and self respect, which then leads to overcoming obstacles.
What do you think? How do you discipline your mindset into a tool that works for you instead of against you? I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. I would also sincerely appreciate it if you shared this article with your friends and family, either directly or through social media. They could find it useful, and it also helps our community grow. Also, stay tuned for future blog posts every Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday around noon, and try to be the reason someone smiles today.