Shifting Perspectives

Thomas Henke, Ettal, Germany

I have always consider myself as being resilient. I have got to this point not without failures and breaking out of many layers of ego shell. But the moment before I could pick myself up was always emotional and stressful. I always tend to jump onto the next problem that comes my way without careful pausing to investigate it in every direction and plan for tackle. Many times, family and friends were not helpful and tend to push me toward it without knowing.

With all this, I decided I needed another change. I don’t want to stop at resilience; I want to feel least pain from the fall and waste less time licking my wound and dusting myself off.

I stumbled upon Stoicism from one of Thomas Oppong write-ups and decided to read about it further. It is an ancient school of philosophy which emphasizes human’s power to endure hardship and problems life has to offer without displaying emotions.

As a part of learning the stoic way, I spend much more time with myself and my thoughts, talking to myself in my head and stopping more to redefine what I used to think about my surroundings. I begin to take ownership of my life and not blaming my feelings on others. All because I taught myself to displace myself and see the system from another perspective.

Here is a few examples, of which I have a feeling might be useful to any of you too:

On Cold Wind

You are not in the wind; You are blocking it in its course. The wind picks up your heat leaving you thinking you feel cold.

On Technology

You have total control of it. Don’t touch that Facebook button because it will ruin you. Don’t open Slack before 9 a.m. and never reply to an email until you are ready.

This is very important. I am trying my best to make sure technologies are just my tools and focusing on creating than consuming. We tend to forget that just years ago you and other human beings were okay with not being able to reach anyone all the time.

We tend to forget that just years ago you and other human beings were okay with not being able to reach anyone all the time.

On Hot Drink

Coffee does not burn your lips; Your lips are just way colder than the coffee.

On Crowd

You are not in the crowd; You have always been a part of it. Being surrounded by thin walls at times does not mean you are ever alone.

Many of us today tend to be unaware of our surroundings and use our cellphones as an excuse to avoid eye contacts and any form of acknowledgement to the world. This is really bad to your personality as well as your path to happiness and the world in general. When you look at other people less you become more shallow and thinks the world works like on social networks.

On Promises

Promises are debt — they always come back to haunt you and stop you from being spontaneous and embrace the present. Do not promise to give something to anyone other than your best.

On Responsibilities

Burdens are made up; They don’t exist. Once you understand consequences and make peace with them, you will be mentally free from all responsibilities and can start tackling them calmly.

Feeling Less Fortunate

Wealth, famine, honor, classes, and most states are comparative, not superlative. However, most of us have a bad habit of leaving your expectation vague and automatically let our mind autopilot itself to the extreme definitive standard.

Say you want to be rich, but you never spend time defining how rich you want to become. This leaves room for your mind to wander and with ease it compares its owner (you) to Mark Zuckerberg or even Tony Stark.

Breaking news: You are probably way richer than most people on earth.

No one Understands

The truth is no one understands anyone truly. And when someone wants to understand you, it is because she wants to understand herself through you. If all of us try to empathize every other person, we wouldn’t get anything done.

As harsh as this may sounds, it is actually quite liberating. Once you can get this out of the way, you are not burdened to understand and empathize every person in your life and can begin to enjoy being yourself.

The key for me has been to remove myself from the positions I had been so used to and shift my frame of reference to a wider, humbler one (as you may notice, the pattern is to shift from one preposition to another).

Next time you feel anything about something, try to think of the whole system and where you are currently in, the immediate actor which is causing you to feel that way, and the immediate element your action will effect. instead of just how you feel toward something. Apparently, the world doesn’t revolve around you, and the sooner you realize that the calmer you will become.

Technologist, educator, and privacy advocate. Crypto and machine learning enthusiast.

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Technologist, educator, and privacy advocate. Crypto and machine learning enthusiast.

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