In his handbook, the Enchiridion, Epictetus shared a simple and powerful insight that we can all employ as a tool in making sound decisions when we encounter challenging circumstances.
He said, “Every event has two handles—one by which it can be carried, and one by which it can’t. If your brother does you wrong, don’t grab it by his wronging, because this is the handle incapable of lifting it. Instead, use the other—that he is your brother, that you were raised together, and then you will have hold of the handle that carries.”
No matter what event or situation we face, there are always going to be two interpretations, two avenues or in Epictetus’ words, two handles by which they can be grabbed. One will make things complicated and more difficult, one will make things easier and more tolerable.
So, what handle are you going to choose as you go through your day today? Would you focus on what went wrong, or would you focus on the silver lining? Would you hold grudges against others, or would you forgive your fellow humans for their follies? Would you engage in tasks that accomplish your own selfish interests, or would you participate in things that benefit the common good? As you ask yourself these questions, they will help you get hold of the right handle, the handle that will honor your innate goodness and help you move forward in life.