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  • Daniel Vargas

Assume positive intent

When you wake up in the morning; tell yourself: the people I will deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they cannot tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions. - Marcus Aurelius

Your fellow humans are individually unique, but all the same. We all feel the same emotions and have similar experiences, all in different forms and at different points of life. We are all one being, so to speak. It can be difficult to manage or anticipate the reactions of others but it is not our job to coddle, or correct them when they have wronged you. It is our job to identify their meaning and filter out the intense emotional baggage someone may leave you.

The path to peace, to a stoic, is to welcome the events whichever way they happen. Move like a river with rocks in the way. Its best to move past what you think someone may be saying to you, if you initially feel they are being disrespectful. Its normal to feel initial emotions but remind yourself that their present experiences and therefore, present interactions should not deter your emotional state and alter your day longer than a minute.

Instead, propose these thought patterns, “maybe they are having a bad day and feel the need to lash out, therefore, I should not be angry, I should pity them”. Driving down the highway and someone flips you off for whatever reason, “maybe this individual is late to work, or is already frustrated by the traffic” If you are having a conversation with someone and they are making statements that come off as rude or rub you the wrong way, understand that not every interaction you have with strangers will feel pleasant, instead attribute the interactions to colliding personalities.

It should not initially be a reflection of their character, but rather, a reflection of how they choose to interact and be perceived by others. In these cases, filter how they may be initially making you feel, stand your ground and reduce your interactions if they reveal less than ideal character traits.

Your goal is to assume the positive intentions of others before we make harsh judgements of others. Similarly, it is not fair to judge someone’s first impression if you are meeting for the first time under the influence of external substances. A second impression may be better suited. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes before you make judgements, in some cases your reactions could light a fuse for a very negative interaction.

To a stoic sage, assuming positive intentions is a powerful tool and is comparable to modern day psychological practices which results in emotional resilience, maturity, and overall mental wellbeing.

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