avoiding sources of unrest

We come across so many situations in our everyday life that either distract or upset us. We can’t control the chain of events that happen in our lives but what we can control is our proximity to any particular incident or occurrence.

In today’s times when we are subjected to information overload and people, retailers and companies constantly vying for our attention, distancing ourselves from sources that upset, agitate or bring us down is a useful strategy.

The Stoics believed in cultivated ignorance. We can live by Publilius Syrus’ adage: “Always shun that which makes you angry.” In order to change our mind, sometimes it’s helpful to change our situation.

Turn your mind away from things that instigate it or get it in a negative state. If you find talking to a particular family member always leads to arguments and fighting, then it’s wise to build distance from them. If a friend keeps weighing you down with complaining, irrational gossip and negative chatter, then it’s time to drastically reduce your interactions with them. If your daughter’s life and career choices bother you, stop targeting them and making them your concern. We can’t control other people and their behaviors, nor can we control certain things that disturb us, but what we can control is stepping away from sources of annoyance and aggravation.

Contrary to what we may think, it’s not a sign of weakness and submission, but it’s a sign of strong will and power. We can dissect and understand what reactions get triggered out of certain situations, and resolve not to repeat them again. We can’t keep walking and accidentally falling in the same manhole on the street again and again. At some point of my time, we need to start walking around it for our betterment.

We need to take a step further and remove this source from our life once and for all if possible so that we don’t get stimulated and get stuck in the negative spiral again in the future. Once we do that, only then we’ll be able to attain peace and tranquility in our life again. As Marcus Aurelius points out in his personal reflections, “How satisfying it is to dismiss and block out any upsetting or foreign impression, and immediately to have peace in all things.”