To be honest,viewing everyday life as an art is a new concept for me. I have concluded that it is a valid description. When I think of art, I think of something beautiful. A “work of art” is defined as something of significant value. Some art aficionados might consider certain art pieces priceless. Isn’t this how the quality of life should be? Priceless? A work of art?
An artist is the master of his/her canvas. Indeed, to live a fulfilling life takes mastery. It is about knowing what it is that you desire from life and playing an active role in it’s realization.
Currently, I am reading a book titled ,”The Art of Living”by Epictetus. It is a short , yet insightful read filled with practical knowledge. This is impressive considering that it was written nearly 2000 years ago. So far, there are four points that Epictetus made that have especially impacted me.
Learn to Accept What Happens to You
Life happens to all of us. Some situations are good while some seem not so good. Certain situations can be downright tragic. We each have our “buttons” or breaking points. Epictetus found it important to accept whatever happened to him at any moment. This conclusion came from a man who was born into slavery around 50 AD and rose to become a Stoic philosopher and founder of his own school.
Accepting what happens to you doesn’t mean giving up or doing absolutely nothing to improve your situation. Rather it is the first step in positioning yourself towards creating a new reality. In order to get to where you are going, you have to first establish where you are at.
Develop an “Iron” Will
It might seem like you can’t control what happens to you, but you can learn how to control your response to it. As the old saying goes, ” What doesn’t kill you , makes you stronger.” You grow strongest from challenge when your mind is set on growth. I think that it helps to get a little sadistic about it. Learn to welcome the pain because you anticipate growth. If it kills you then it won’t matter anyway. Fix your mind on winning in life no matter what happens. Life becomes more of a work of art when you take an active role in creating it as you go. It also becomes more of an adventure and fun. Be determined to make the most out of your life and never look back nor regret anything. Learn from your experiences. Be a persistent “student” of life. It takes an iron will to live your life on your terms. Those who live a “status quo” life are like the walking dead. The purpose of being alive is to LIVE. Figure it out.
Make the Most Out of Every Situation
The saying, “When life gives you lemons , make lemonade.”, reigns true. Once you have developed an iron will to look for the best in every situation, you can’t lose. Every experience ,whether perceived as good or bad, becomes an opportunity to learn and grow as a human being. Experiences become richer . You will also tend to remain more emotionally balanced . What I mean is that when something “great” happens , you won’t get overly excited. You respond with happiness, but remain level headed or sober. When something traumatic occurs, you will be less likely to stay bent out of shape. You may experience sadness and depression for a relative moment, but you will “snap back” significantly faster. You will have become a student of life. The joy is in the life journey and the lessons that you learn along the way.
Claim Nothing or No One , Yet Cherish Everything
A lot of our stress as people stems from our perceived affiliations with certain people , positions and things. This is a mistake. You and I are infinite ,eternal being having a finite, human experience. We are composed of 97% stardust( Seriously, look it up- carbon, hydrogen nitrogen, oxygen,sulphur and phospherous). I think that is pretty cool! I love Carl Sagans quote about us, “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” We are each unique and precious and so are the people and situations that “appear” within our life experiences. Take nothing or no one for granted. Savor each moment that you have the opportunity to be part of. Yes, it can be challenging, but well worth it. This point has special significance because nothing in this life stays the same. Everything changes. Attach yourself to nothing , yet appreciate the person or thing while it “exist” in the material sense. Everything and person is precious.
Also be sure to remember that nothing or no one truly dies, merely, transitions. Each of us will too. It is the way of things.
The wisdom found in this book is timeless. Although the author, Epictetus, was born into slavery , he was never a slave. His mind remained free and open for learning and expansion. Despite his immediate predicament, he appreciated the opportunity that life afforded him to grow past his circumstances. In doing so, he realized the ultimate goal of this life… mastery. He didn’t allow his external environment to dictate what he was able to accomplish.. He also didn’t allow others opinion of him to determine his self worth.
We could each learn from his example as well others throughout history that shared similar convictions. The term mastery as it applies to life is relative. When we think of mastery, we tend to think of perfection. With life, there is no true arrival. There is always room for experience, learning and growth. There are countless levels of mastery. In my opinion, there is no final destination only transitions. Let’s focus on the journey( life) while enjoying the “scenery” (circumstances). Until next time…