The first rule of the pit says, "If you find yourself at the bottom, stop digging. It is probably this common-sense thought that is most often violated. When something happens - things go wrong, or someone hurts us - most people only make things worse: first they get angry and irritated, and then they stomp around before they can come up with a plan.
Today, set yourself the simplest and most doable task: not to make things worse. Whatever happens, don't add anger and other negative emotions to the equation. Don't react for the sake of the reaction itself. Leave it at that. Stop digging in. And then find a way out.
2.Can't do one thing, take on another
Shortly before his death, when victory in the American Civil War was at hand, Lincoln told a story in a circle of military leaders about a man who wanted a high position in the government. At first he wondered if he could be made secretary of foreign affairs. After a refusal, he asked for a more modest post. After a repeated refusal, he asked for a position of an ordinary customs officer. Realizing he would not get even that, he asked Lincoln for his old pants. "It's good to be humble," Lincoln laughed as he finished his story.
If we can't do this, we can try to do the other. If we can't do another, we can probably try a third. And if we can't do that either, there's always something else. And even if the final option turns out to be just a "position" for a good person, we will always have the opportunity to apply our philosophy.
3.wipe your nose and get on with it
The world is an unfair place. The game is a scam. Someone has a grudge against you. These statements may be true, but in practice, in the here and now, what good are they to you? That government report or that sympathetic article won't help you pay your bills, heal a broken leg, or get an emergency loan. Those who succumb to self-pity and tears, wailing, "Woe is me!" - will get nothing, but will lose the energy and motivation needed to deal with the problem.
We have a choice: focus on how we have been wronged, or use the resources available and take action. Do we wait for someone to save us, or do we heed Marcus Aurelius' call: "Better hurry to your destination and, leaving empty hopes behind, to yourself-if you care about yourself-help as much as you can. That's better than just rubbing your nose in it (although that in itself is a step forward).
4.Just move your feet, take it one step at a time
Athletes at the highest level in college and professional sports are increasingly turning to a philosophy called Process. It was created at the University of Alabama by coach Nick Saban. He teaches his players not to pay attention to the big picture: the importance of the game, winning a championship, the opponent's colossal advantage, but to focus on doing the seemingly insignificant things well: always acting to the max, finishing a particular play, switching to an individual possession. A season lasts months, a game lasts hours, you can catch up to your opponent in four touchdowns, but an individual piece of play lasts only a few seconds. All games and all seasons consist of seconds.
If teams follow the Process, they usually win. They overcome obstacles and eventually work their way up, without even focusing directly on the obstacles. If you follow The Process in your life, doing the right things in the right order, one by one, you too will do well. Moreover, you will be better prepared to overcome the obstacles along the way. You'll be too busy to notice them: you're just moving your feet.
No one has ever claimed that you were born with a set of tools to solve all the problems you will encounter in life. As a newborn, you were practically helpless, but then someone helped you, and you realized that you could ask for help. So you gradually learned that you were loved.
Well, you are still loved. And you can go to anyone for help - you don't have to fight problems alone.
Buddy, if you need help, just say so.
6.Start with yourself.
Whatever happens today, let's be ready for problems, for difficulties, for people being frustrating or confusing - let's be ready to take it and turn it to our advantage. Let's not wish to turn back time or rearrange the universe according to our preferences. It is far better and far easier to remake ourselves.
7.Don't think about the future
A character in Chuck Palahniuk's novel Lullaby says, "To forget the big picture, you have to look at everything up close." Sometimes understanding the big picture is important, and the Stoics have already helped us with this. Just as often, however, thinking about what is to come is unproductive and distracting. And so, by focusing solely on the present, we can remove those frightening or negative thoughts from our sight.
A tightrope walker tries not to think about the height at which he is walking. An undefeated team tries not to think about its perfect winning streak. Both for us and for them.