Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker’s weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and how you can use its waters to reflect on and improve your life.
This week’s selection is from Marcus Aurelius. He suggests change is an intrinsic part of existing in this world:
Is someone afraid of change? Well, what can ever come to be without change? Or what is dearer or closer to the nature of the Whole than change? Can you yourself take your bath, if the wood that heats it is not changed? Can you be fed, unless what you eat changes? Can any other of the benefits of life be achieved without change? Do you not see then that for you to be changed is equal, and equally necessary to the nature of the Whole? – Meditations 7.18
What It Means
The first line can be read a few different ways. It’s most likely meant as a “if someone is afraid of change, tell them this” type of thing, but I prefer to read it as a babying “aw, is someone scared of a little change?” You can choose whichever you prefer.
Anyway, Aurelius reasons that without change, nothing really happens in the world. You can’t take a bath, you can’t eat, you can enjoy any of the perks of life without accepting that change is a constant. So, you must also accept that you changing, or your life changing, is only natural as well. You are not above the basic workings of the universe, so why bother fearing what you know is only natural? You will deal with change because you must.
What to Take From It
Fear isn’t always a bad thing. It keeps us safe, it keeps us healthy, and it often makes us feel more alive. But there are bad kinds of fear that slowly suck away our happiness with stress and discomfort. The fear of change is one of them.
Yes, change is often uncomfortable, and it can be a great struggle at times. But change is also what makes life so interesting and worthwhile in the first place. Aurelius also said “the universe is change” (4.3.4), so, you see, to live — to exist within this universe — is to change. Do not fear your own existence. Accept it. Control what you can control and learn to adapt as infinite change happens around you. Change is what makes everything worthwhile.