I had previously filed away this article, “Why Stoicism is one of the best mind-hacks ever“, and just dug it up out of Instapaper. It’s a good summary of some basics of Stoic philosophy. And, at the center is this, beautifully explained by the author:
What the whole thing comes down to, distilled to its briefest essence, is making the choice that choice is really all we have, and that all else is not worth considering. ‘Who […] is the invincible human being?’ Epictetus once asked, before answering the question himself: ‘One who can be disconcerted by nothing that lies outside the sphere of choice.’
Any misfortune ‘that lies outside the sphere of choice’ should be considered an opportunity to strengthen our resolve, not an excuse to weaken it. This is one of the truly great mind-hacks ever devised, this willingness to convert adversity to opportunity, and it’s part of what Seneca was extolling when he wrote what he would say to one whose spirit has never been tempered or tested by hardship: ‘You are unfortunate in my judgment, for you have never been unfortunate. You have passed through life with no antagonist to face you; no one will know what you were capable of, not even you yourself.’ We do ourselves an immense favour when we consider adversity an opportunity to make this discovery – and, in the discovery, to enhance what we find there.
“Choice is really all we have.”
You can choose your response, your attitude, no matter the circumstances. Some “bad” event can be redefined as “good” if you use it to learn, to grow, to become a stronger person. Imagine embracing all that occurs as though it was part of a master plan to refine you into an invincible human being.