Letters To Seneca – Letter 2

Dear Seneca,

I was given a gift yesterday. A gift that both challenged and humbled me.

As my wife and I were heading to the grocery store we realized there was a nail in our tire. This situation could’ve quickly spiraled into complaining, concern, frustration, anxiety, etc., but instead, it turned out surprisingly enjoyable.

There are multiple variables as to why this scenario took a turn for the better, some of which were in my control and others the outside world.

Let’s explore each.

  • Action: Once I noticed the nail in our tire I immediately called a tire repair company, instead of losing my cool. Fortunately, the tire repair could take us the same day.
  • Blame: On the drive there, instead of blaming my wife I reassured her that we’re fortunate nothing worse happened. Looking at the positive side of the situation really lifted both our moods and knowing that “worse” could’ve been her or I running over a nail, the tire popping, and us getting into a fatal car accident.
  • Fortune: We continuously landed on luck every moment of the way throughout this experience. Our drive to the tire shop with a nail in the tire was safe, we paid $20 to replace the tire thanks to my previous me buying insurance, and there was a Walmart right next door allowing us to grocery shop while the tire was replaced. These “fortunes” could’ve been overlooked if we were in the wrong state of mind, but through conscious effort, we observed each gift at the moment.

I’m reminded of two lessons from this experience

  • Action > Thought: In all cases, action trumps thought. If I’m in an unfortunate situation or negative mood, the best thing to do is take action. ~99% of the time action pushes me in the “right” direction, not ruminating on the situation or mood.
  • Perspective: Perspective is everything. Stoicism and optimism are the two constants that shape my perspective on life. This experience (or gift) allowed me to practice flexing both perspectives. Life is hard and we need to flex these perspective muscles as often as we can, not allowing them to degrade.

As our good friend Marcus Aurelius says…

“Choose not to be harmed, and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed, and you haven’t been.”