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Day 15: Peace Is In Staying The Course

“Tranquility can’t be grasped except by those who have reached an unwavering and firm power of judgment—the rest constantly fall and rise in their decisions, wavering in a state of alternately rejecting and accepting things. What is the cause of this back and forth? It’s because nothing is clear and they rely on the most uncertain guide—common opinion.”

SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 95.57b–58a

In Seneca’s essay, he has used the word ‘Euthymia‘ which as per Wikipedia is defined as ‘a normal, tranquil mental state or mood. It is often used to describe a stable mental state or mood in those affected with bipolar disorder that is neither manic nor depressive, yet is distinguishable from healthy controls.

The word “euthymia” traces its roots to the Greek words “eu”, meaning well, and “thymo”, meaning soul or emotion. The word “thymos” also had four additional meanings: life energy; feelings and passions; desires and inclinations; and thought or intelligence. Euthymia is also derived from a verb, “euthymeo”, which means both “I am happy, in good spirits” and “I make others happy, I reassure and encourage”.

Now how does one achieve this state of Euthymia in our life when there are so many distractions in today’s world. The ancient wisdom is that one can do it by having clarity of vision of where one wants to be and always believing that you are on the right course. One of the major problems with the above philosophy in today’s world is the availability of free opinions. Everyone seems to know what is best for us even though they don’t know what is best for themselves. Distracted by so many opinions and ideas one always starts wondering whether they are actually on the right path. We start comparing ourselves with others and unknowingly keep measuring ourselves in those parameters.

How to stop comparing yourself to others

1. Practice gratitude:

This is the single most habit that has helped me a lot. There are often times in our life that we tend to overlook what we have because we constantly keep looking for other people’s blessings. Just having a simple habit of writing down 3 things that I am grateful for each day has changed the way I look at my life. Now I spend less time being envious of other people’s happiness and more content with my own blessings.

2. Be kind to yourself

I am always my worst critic. Now, it is sometimes good to critique your life, but I feel there are enough people out there to do it for you. So, sometimes you have to be your friend and an admirer too. I read this somewhere that you shouldn’t say something to yourself which you won’t say to your friend. I feel that I am too harsh on myself quite a lot of times and I try to keep the above advice in my mind whenever I get too harsh on myself.

3. Celebrate yourself

Now, I used to think it is very narcissistic of me to talk about my achievements. I still admire humbleness as one of the biggest qualities in any person. But as much as one shouldn’t be narcissistic I also believe that one shouldn’t always downplay themselves. Everyone deserves a pat on their back from time to time and I believe you can do that without being too cocky. Treat yourself something when you achieve a goal, keep a journal to make an entry of your achievement however small it is, do something good for someone else as things are good with you. These are the small things but they make a lot of difference and help you stick to your path.

4. Social media detox

Now, you might say that you don’t get affected by seeing happy posts on social media. Believe me, I also used to tell the same thing to realize later how wrong I was. Everyone knows that the happy posts or life that is shown on social media are not the reality. It is only a part of their life that people project to the world. But knowing doesn’t change the fact that it still affects you. It might not affect you on a happy day when you are scrolling through all these happy posts, but on a tough day when you see a single such post somehow, the reaction is cumulative. The old post memories are triggered and you somehow feel that everyone is happy in the world except you.
I am not saying I have completely stopped using social media but I have restricted the usage of it over time. I don’t check my notifications & feed first thing in the morning or the last thing before I go to bed. I have muted all the notifications, so I check the feed only when I open the app. With time I realize that I feel less and less need to check my phone and it has really helped me getting a tranquil state of mind which I can use to focus on other things in my life.

Published inPhilosophy & IdeasStoicism

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