One of the suggestions of Stoic philosophy is, in the face of adversity, not to think of the objective events that assail us but to think instead of our own reactions to them.
The events may not be controllable but perhaps our reactions can be?
The ‘serenity prayer’ expresses a similar idea: ‘Grant us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the difference’.
Mindfulness meditation also trains us to monitor our emotional responses and accept them without being consumed by them.
But is this the right response?
After all, if the world is unfair why should we not feel righteous indignation? If we are being badly treated, is it not better to complain than to merely try to silence our sense of injustice?
Should we not try to change the world rather than merely accept it? This, I think, is what the serenity prayer gets right. But what of what cannot be changed?
This week, my own anxiety disorder has been in full force.
The world as I experience it has been more disturbing than normal. I have insight enough to know that this is temporary.
Seen ‘sub specie aeternitatis’ – under the aspect of eternity – or even seen in relation to some ordinary timescale, I, like other people with this too common modern ailment, know that it will pass.
The task, the problem, the challenge, is to have sufficient faith that this is so.
Tim Thornton, Kendal
If you live in the South Lakes and would like to contribute your Faith Viewpoint just email Lois on firstname.lastname@example.org’.
READ MORE: Faith Viewpoint: Through pain to a new perspective by Ulverston parish