People generally perceive the world around them to be negative. A common criticism of many of the self-help books is that they paint a rosy picture of the world, when in fact life is full of suffering. That is true, but I’m going to suggest that it is still fundamentally our choice as to how we view the world. It is up to us on how we see things, our perceptions do indeed shape how we see things around us.
Instead of thinking about the things you do during the day as being a task and thus a burden, perceive it as a privilege. Perceive things as you getting to do it, rather than you having to do it. People, especially the younger generation and university students, are so unappreciative of their life. They complain about everything, but they don’t realise that they are living in the most privileged era in history. They have opportunities that are endless. Yet, they still post on Facebook about how depressed they are, while holding their brand-new iPhone before they have the pleasure of attending a lecture. People who lived before them or in unprivileged parts of the world would have longed for that experience. Studies have suggested that the college students who performed the best were also the most appreciative of their studies, and viewed university as an opportunity. The same rule can apply for everyone.
We should bring our will into harmony with whatever happens - Epictetus Click To Tweet
Epictetus summarised it perfectly. We should strive for this level of perception, however difficult it is, or however long it may take us to achieve it. We can learn to change our perceptions so that we can curb disappointment, and can assure ourselves of a certain level of happiness. One should aim to get to a stage where nothing goes against their will, Epictetus claimed that this was the ultimate task of a philosopher.
Start seeing things as a privilege rather than a menial task. See things for what they are, rather than let some negative emotion dictate how you are going to feel. Admire the beautiful things in life, and see the small things in life that upset you as trivial bumps in a marvellous existence.
That is the state one should aim to achieve if they want a happy life – bring your will into harmony with what you do. It isn’t easy, but it is certainly worth striving for. You can’t structure the world around you, and yes, the world isn’t going to be all pretty, but you can certainly shape how you think and feel about it.
Be at one with the world, and you will be living with a smile on your face.