Last week I was able to apply a lesson from my favorite 2000-year-old Stoic, Marcus Aurelius.
A few days ago someone did what drivers have been doing since the beginning of the Eisenhower Interstate System. Cut me off. I had to swerve, hit the breaks and If I had not acted we would have had an accident.
While there was nothing remarkable about getting cut off, what was remarkable was that my first emotion was not anger or even getting upset; my first emotion was humor. I laughed out loud slowed down and proceeded on my way.
And that action, for me, was remarkable. Laughing at the situation rather than getting upset was the culmination of 2 years in self-mastery. You see I never had a problem with traffic. I was never the type of driver that angrily tailgated, flipped people the bird, or drove aggressively. However, I did realize that I was not always the most kind to people at work, sometimes upset with my wife, and on occasion angry with my kids. And this is what I wanted to change.
As such, I took a cue from my favorite philosopher and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius when he said
“Reject your sense of injury and the injury disappears”
If I could reject the sense of injury for something as pedestrian as a stranger cutting me off on the freeway, then maybe I could also reject my sense of injury when dealing with an upset co-worker, disobedient kids, or an unhappy wife.
So while maybe in the far future I’ll post about responding in love and humor to an unhappy coworker or family member; today I just happy that I took the first step moving toward the man I want to become.