The Law of Assumption
“Perhaps the worst will happen, perhaps not, until then, look forward to better things” - Seneca
As a stoic we live our lives thinking, “remain indifferent to what makes no difference”. That is, when you take this stance on life, you then act on your own will, right? Without the worry or concern of things that will otherwise make no difference such as anticipating the future or reliving awkward moments of your past. Another example, if you think you will get in trouble at work for your performance, does it make sense to continue to dread that thought?
You should remain indifferent to that thought, but then what is the best course of action after you’ve made the decision to not allow it to make a difference? By taking the steps dictated by your own thoughts and desires to create happiness, right? Essentially you would take actions based on positivity, assuming positive intentions. I went into detail on another podcast/blog if you’d like to hear more about "Assuming Positive Intentions", please go check that out.
Now it may seem like wishful thinking to have the positive outcome in mind, but we do make actions that would otherwise provide the best outcome. The best being positive, I’m sure we aren't wanting negative ones. Even if the negative would happen, the Stoic knows that they would be ok nonetheless! Another way of looking at this is manifesting. I’ve been hearing this term a lot lately and I kind of like its approach because it utilizes the indifference attitude.
Here’s the thing, Plato once said that reality is your perception, you can change your reality by changing your perception. This is an excellent example of the law of assumption, which presumes that anything you assume will happen. Anything you don't is less likely to occur. By making good assumptions on otherwise, not so favorable situations, you will act in such a way as to encounter the best outcome. Put simply, you will always act on the assumptions set by your mind thereby solidifying your future. This is why your future is determined by the quality of your thoughts.
For example, imagine you are in an argument with a friend or significant other, after a bit of an argument you go to the other room to think. After some time you think, that was just an argument, everything will be fine, neither of us didn't mean the bad things what we said and we love one another more than this silly argument. You have set the quality of your thoughts in motion by thinking indifferent to the outcome of the argument, leaving the argument itself to the past and choosing to move forward.
So you walk out and exude a more positive energy, not that nothing happened at all, but you approach with a level head, you can apologize if necessary and so does he or she, or you can say that the argument is not worth damaging the relationship and you’d like to move forward.
Let’s think of a more complicated one, you think you are doing bad at work. You think you will get a bad review. Instead of thinking of the bad, which will cause the quality of your thoughts to hinder your work, you think positively, manifesting positivity and leaving the outcome to indifference. Regardless of whether it's true or not that you had been working badly, you will continue your work with the assumption that you are in fact doing well, thereby wiring your mind to work better because you think you are in fact doing better.
You can’t predict the outcome but the fact that you put more effort into work, the law of assumption would say that you are in fact working better regardless if you previously weren’t. You manifested the best outcome and the best outcome is that your management would notice the extra effort put into the work you do.
What's the opposite? Imagine you thought you were doing bad, you started to focus on negative outcomes, you start to slip on the work you do little by little, further solidifying the future and the assumption that you were in fact performing bad. Then when you are told something about your performance, you only confirm it.
Obviously this mental technique does not produce the best outcome nor can you help predict the outcomes of events. But as Stoics we must realize that each and every action leads you down a path, fate as the ancient stoics would call it. If you don’t believe in fate, let's use a more modern approach, the multiverse of outcomes. You know that any action you take will lead you down a specific path and you can change it each time. As modern stoics, why then would we not put our best foot forward in manifesting the best outcomes.
A final note to remember is that it's completely fine to think of the worst case scenario, in fact we as Stoics SHOULD think this, there is a big BUT, this BUT is that even if any of those bad scenarios did happen, we would in fact be just fine. We accept the fate we are given and continue to live with indifference in mind. The quality of your thoughts, however, impact the quality of your actions.