Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker’s weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and a guide to using its waters to reflect on and improve your life.
This week’s selection comes from Marcus Aurelius. He asks that you shift your perspective before getting angry with others’ actions:
What It Means
If someone wrongs you, consider their perspective on the situation, as well as their intention. If you can do that, you’ll avoid being reckless and angry, opting for compassion instead. After all, you may have done the same thing yourself. If not, you at least took the time to put yourself in their position, and that can save both parties a lot of grief.
What to Take From It
Consider this: “Right” and “wrong” are abstract concepts, social constructs established over the years by powerful people according to their personal views of the world. But what might be right to one person is wrong to another. You may know not what it’s like to be someone else, but you can always try to understand them to some degree. Never forget the power of perspective.
When someone wrongs you in some way, stop and think about their intention for at least 10 to 15 seconds. Never immediately react unless there is some kind of emergency. Ask yourself, was their intention to hurt you? Or were they just doing what they thought was right? Perhaps they only wanted to help, or misunderstood and became confused. Or maybe their circumstances nudged them into the action you chose to take offence to. Keep your anger at bay and let reason take the wheel. If after some thought, you still believe them to have done wrong, educate them instead of chastising them. But if you do indeed recognise their actions as coming from another perspective, and not something that was not meant to hurt or harm you, find grace within and let it go – especially if this was their first such offence.