TheDaily Stoic Quote
Whenever someone has done wrong by you, immediately consider what notion of good or evil they had in doing it. For when you see that, you’ll feel compassion, instead of astonishment or rage. For you may yourself have the same notions of good and evil, or similar ones, in which case you’ll make an allowance for what they’ve done. But if you no longer hold the same notions, you’ll be more readily gracious for their error.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.26
Daily Stoic Question
What would change if I looked for other people’s good intentions?
Daily Finance Stoic Response
If I looked for other people’s good intentions, then life would have been so much easier.
Too often, I have made decisions to attribute to someone a rationale for their behavior that was not appropriate.
This behavior comes from my Monkey Mind, which tends to be a negative little guy. Fortunately, in the past few years I have managed to control the little guy so much more.
The first time I started controlling my Monkey Mind was when I read the book Feeling Good: the New Mood Therapy, by Dr. David D. Burns, which Dr. Burn’s website notes is the most frequently “prescribed” for depressed patients by psychiatrists and psychologists in the United States and Canada and, it should be. This book changed my life.
When I read it, I was going through a very challenging time at work. I was 34 years old and I had shingles from the stress, for Heaven’s Sake.
A key learning from this book is to pause before you react to behaviors that happen to you. For example, if your wife says “could you put that plate away”, the Monkey Mind might hear “You are a slob”, but she did not say that. The book teaches you to take a step away, sit down, and write out possible alternatives that the person might have been thinking when they said what they said. Generally, you will find there are plenty of reasons, many of them much more reasonable than the knee jerk reaction that the Monkey Mind might have suggested.
Once I had finished the book, I would find my interactions with others comical at times. For instance, while talking to someone at work about what was happening in our office, they would attribute specific reasons to someone’s behavior. While in the past, I would have commiserated with them and thought yes, that is totally why they’re doing it – jackasses!. With the new training, I would actually chuckle out loud, because it was clear their Monkey Mind was running their conversation.
If I had developed this skill earlier, I may never have left that Company. Would I have been better for it today? Probably not. But, when we learn how to control our mind, then we learn how to control our destiny. Looking to other people’s good intentions is part of that. When we look for the good in others, then we get along better with them as social people. Getting along with your coworkers is important to your career and earnings potential.
As an aside, did you know cognitive behavioral therapy is tightly aligned with Stoicism? Interesting that I would be so passionate about CBT and Stoicism.
Until next time,