Daily Touch of Inspirations

June 19th: Stay focused on the present

Ryan Holiday, The 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

Don't let your reflection on the whole sweep of life crush you. Don't fill your mind with all the bad things that might still happen. Stay focused on the present situation and ask yourself why it's so unbearable and can't be survived. —Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.36


When you look back at some of the most impressive, even scary, things that you've done or endured, how were they possible? How were you able to see past the danger or the poor odds? As Marcus described, you were too busy with the details to let the whole sweep of the situation crush you. In fact, you probably didn't even think about it at the time.

A character in Chuck Palahniuk's novel Lullaby says, "The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up." Sometimes grasping the big picture is important, and the Stoics have helped us with that before. A lot of times, though, it's counterproductive and overwhelming to be thinking of everything that lies ahead. So by focusing exclusively on the present, we're able to avoid or remove those intimidating or negative thoughts from our frame of view.

A man walking a tightrope tries not to think about how high up he is. An undefeated team tries not to think about their perfect winning streak. Like us, they're better off putting one foot in front of the other and considering everything else to be extraneous.

 

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom Perseverance and Art of Living

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