Meditations 10.3:

“Everything that happens is either endurable or not.
If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining.
If it’s unendurable … then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well.
Just remember: you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so.
In your interest, or in your nature.”

So, Marcus, you’re saying there’s never any excuse to complain about anything. Where’s the fun in that?

Actually, I’ve got the complain-out-loud habit mostly under control. I have my moments, like while watching a football game or while driving or while venting to my wife or colleagues. Yes, so under control. But, mostly, my complaining takes place silently in my mind. It’s just as unproductive, though, even if unspoken.

“you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so.”

That last point though: “you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so.”

This thought has challenged and delighted me since first reading a passage in the novel Memoirs of Hadrian this summer where the emperor Hadrian, one of Marcus’s predecessors, explained that as a young man he treated anything difficult that happened as though he had chosen it to happen. He embraced trials and hardships and setbacks as something to accept and use for his benefit, not resist.

It is in your interest to make the best of what is, even if it’s repellant or tragic or just annoying. Instead of complaining, what if you accepted what is as if it was somehow part of your master plan for refining and perfecting your character?