Kristjan Vingel

Be turned on by obstacles

October 10, 2019

Stoicism is most likely the best form of philosophy out there. The reason is this: it’s practical. It doesn’t require any debates whether this means this or that. It’s not an intellectual exercise.

The leaders of stoicism were not some poor rags either. Marcus Aurelius, who practiced stoicism, was at the time, the most powerful man on Earth. Seneca was a wealthy advisor. Epictetus founded his own school, where he taught great intellectuals.

These men talked about patience, humility, and compassion. To paraphrase Ryan Holiday: if you were a dictator, would you write about restraint and humility in your diary? Marcus Aurelius did.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Marcus Aurelius

Our society wants to avoid obstacles. We think obstacles are bad, and if we hit one, we get frustrated, angry, or sad.

The truth is, there will always be polarity. It’s the law of the Universe. There’s hot and cold, day and night, happy and sad, pain and pleasure. So, obstacles are part of life - they will never cease to exist. You will always have obstacles.

Therefore, instead of trying to avoid obstacles or being surprised by them, we should always expect them and not view them as something” bad” but rather part of life.

A good person dyes events with his own color … and turns whatever happens to his own benefit.

Better yet, we should view obstacles as something good. We have so much to learn from obstacles. Without obstacles, we wouldn’t become better. It’s the hard times that make us stronger.

This is what Marcus meant with his words about obstacles being the way.

Next time you hit an obstacle, be excited about being able to learn something new and that you’ll become stronger. And you don’t have to take my word for it - read what Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, or other great stoics have written.


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Kristjan Vingel