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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Malpass

Two True Things

Since we’ve been in quarantine, I’ve been taking my dogs on a bunch of long walks around the neighborhood. I like to go earlier in the morning, when it’s cooler. I use that walking time to think things through, trying to figure out the meaning of life and other deep philosophical matters, you know?

During all that walking and thinking, I’m pretty sure I’ve stumbled (ha ha, unintended pun) across two simple but important truths that are helping me deal with COVID-19 stress.

Truth #1: We have total free will about what we choose to believe. Said another way, we get to form our own opinions about the events happening around us. So if we want to believe something is really bad, awful or even catastrophic, no one can stop us from believing that—but that viewpoint may just make things worse for us. On the other hand, we can choose to believe it’s going to be okay and things will work out. And no one can stop us from believing that, either.

Truth #2: Similarly, when it comes to our reactions, we have (almost) complete control. We can’t control the outbreak of a global pandemic, we can’t do anything about social distancing and attending virtual school instead of actual school, BUT our response to all this external stuff is almost completely under our control. I say almost completely because if I stumble (ha ha, more stumbling) when I'm out walking my dogs and accidentally stub my toe, I might involuntarily cry out in pain. But in terms of voluntary reactions, we can choose how we will behave in answer to these stressful situations.

Both these concepts are part of the philosophical ideology of Stoicism. I recently came across an interesting article in the British newspaper The Guardian that explains more about Stoicism. Click here to read the article in The Guardian.

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