“No one should put too much trust in triumph,
No one should give up hope of trials improving.”
We can learn a lot from the stoic philosophers. Their journals and writings continue to be used today as lessons to modern humans regarding thought and behavior. The interesting thing is that our minds and the challenges and triumphs we face have not changed one bit. The technology has. Our communication has. But for the overall human motivations and thoughts the song remains the same. And the effects of our thoughts and feelings on our lives are a historical constant.
In life, there are successes and there are failures. Our response to each dictates our path of life like curves and slopes in a winding and treacherous path. This analogy may make it seem like their existence is predetermined and inevitable. Yet, the beauty is that we determine the course of the path. A stoic reaction to a pitfall in life can act as a bridge to the other side where a success awaits. Likewise, a mild and steady reaction to a success can help avoid the slippery slope on the other side.
When you take a step back, this fact seems obvious. Your failures, however large, are never as destructive as you think. Likewise, successes are not nearly as grand as you hope. Yet, everyone does it. When things are bad, there is a snowball effect. Life suddenly can feel like an avalanch falong on our psyche. When we experience success, whatever the magnitude, we feel as though we are on top of the world. The excitement and adrenaline flow through like a drug and we want the world to see our achievement.
In reality, however, nothing is as good nor as bad as we perceive it. After a fall, as Seneca hints, the next triumph is near in time to the current trial in which you are suffering. The triumph, if you allow it, can blind you just enough that you miss the next boobie trap. Unfortunately, our subjective thoughts and feelings cause us to exaggerate and miss the opportunity for rehabilitation or future successes. They cause us to miss the true meaning of a failure. And force us to miss the full experience and lesson of a success. If we can remember this and put this stoic advice to practice, we can take the bricks of destruction and use them to build steps to our next great success.