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Last week I wrote about, “The immature mind hops from one thing to another; a mature man goes to a completed action in all things he undertakes.” Now it seems appropriate to write about, “A man should remove not only unnecessary acts, but also unnecessary thoughts, for then superfluous activity will not follow.” That idea goes all the way back to the classic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He was a practicing Stoic, and some of his ideas were published and are still available.

The ancient Stoics were not into suffering, quite the opposite — they were finding ways of living their lives as tranquilly as possible, and one of their ideas was to be in complete agreement with things that were totally beyond their personal control. That is, if you can’t do anything about something, don’t worry about it, but adapt as quickly and painlessly as possible to the necessities of your situation. Do what you can in a personal way, but don’t worry about the really big things.

A simple example would be, not to worry about it raining, because you can’t do anything about that, but to make appropriate adaptations, and wear rain gear if you are going out. That action is under your control, and so you can make decisions about what is appropriate clothing, or alternately you might delay your trip outside.

Or another example, you may not have enough time, energy, or money to take a vacation to some exotic place, so why worry about it? However, you can choose to take a pleasant walk right now and go to places where you will find a few friends to chat with. It is something that is under your personal control, and will give you much the same pleasure, perhaps more, than an expensive trip.

Aim to get the little pleasures; they are so much easier to get than the big ones, and a lot of little pleasures are probably better for your body and psyche than something that is big and difficult to get.

Life is lived one second at a time, so why not enjoy your pleasures one second at a time?

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