Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Rat-ional Thinking

Maddy Mazur- Pixabay
Rats are flourishing during the Coronavirus. Our behavior patterns have changed and it has affected rats. They don’t complain or worry, they just adapt. (Yahoo/BBC New Article)

As we are self-quarantining these days, it is easy to become a bit stir-crazy. We need to adapt.

Without our regular routines and social interactions, many of us
drift toward social media, which in small doses is fine, but too much is not good for us. Social media gives every person with a computer a public forum to forward crazy theories and share their often misinformed opinions. This can make us sad, angry and paranoid.  I only follow social media that allows me to curate what I see, and I only want to see cute animal videos and pictures. (See my Tech tab and read about Apollo.)

This January I began to study stoicism with The Daily Stoic - 366 Meditations of Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday. Each day brings a quote from Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, or Epictetus accompanied by a short essay from the author further exploring the day’s quote. I then journal how this applies to my life. Talk about fortunate timing!

Stoicism is defined as: the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. (Once again, see the rat article above.)

My goal in studying stoicism is to turn off the recurring thoughts in my head that divert my attention from the wonder that surrounds me. By trying to remove emotion from decisions and situations, I can be mindful of what I am presently doing. Things aren’t good or bad, they just are. Worrying about what might or might not happen does not prepare me, it just robs me of the joy of the present moment. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t plan for the future, but we mustn’t ruminate on things that may never occur. Make a plan and move on.

Many 12-step programs use a prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr in 1932 that later became known as ”The Serenity Prayer”. ”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”. Millions have found comfort and wisdom in this succinct version of stoicism.

I encourage you to check out The Daily Stoic (link to GoodReads). It has been helpful to me, especially in the time of COVID-19.

If all this seems like too much to remember, a wise woman I know and love dearly shared her super-condensed, easy-to-remember version of stoicism and “The Serenity Prayer”.  It’s just two words:  “F*** it!” (Thanks, Queen Mother Rat!)


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