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Reframing: The Stoic Philosophy to Overcome Adversity

My son taught me one of the most important lessons of my life when he was only two weeks old, and this is something that can help us change our outlook on this pandemic.

I knew parenting would be challenging, but I didn’t think it’d be so challenging. I wasn’t getting any sleep, I was too tired to work, and I didn’t have any time to myself anymore.

I went from “this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!” to “oh, shit! What have I done?”

I felt guilty for having these thoughts, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t get as much work done as usual.

But one day, something became clear. The problem wasn’t a lack of sleep or personal time. The problem was the story I was telling myself.

I was focusing on all the things that I had to give up, instead of the things that I gained. I was focusing on how challenging that situation was, not how rewarding.

It became clear to me that I only got to be a first-time dad once, and that one day I’d be willing to pay a fortune to go back to that moment and hold my first child again.

It became clear that it was a privilege to care for that tiny person, to watch him grow and teach him good values.

The external circumstances didn’t change. My son kept waking up every two hours, and I kept waking up to change his diapers. But when my story changed, my life changed. I stopped cursing to myself for having to wake up in the middle of the night, and I started feeling so much love and appreciation for him.

When I realized how reframing my ”baby story” completely changed my life, I started wondering how many other aspects of my life had stories that I needed to re-write.

What stories had I been telling myself about work, about money, about relationships? Were those stories serving me or working against me?

Since that happened, I started paying more attention to the people in my life and the stories they tell themselves. It became evident that two people could be facing the exact same external circumstances but have two completely different interpretations of what’s going on.

Let’s take this Coronavirus pandemic as an example. Some people are depressed about the deaths, social isolation, and companies laying off employees. And who can blame them? These are very sad things. But that’s not the whole story.

This crisis is bringing communities together. We’re nicer to each other, we’re reaching out to old friends, and we’re spending quality time with family.

Companies are finding creative ways to work remotely, and realizing that employees don’t need expensive office space to be productive. Some companies are hiring more people than ever, and some people are starting the businesses they’ve been dreaming about for years.

People are sleeping more, eating better, and learning how to boost their immune system.

We’re learning new skills, spending more time on our hobbies, and realizing that maybe life isn’t all about work.

I’m not minimizing how tragic this situation is. I’m pointing out that there are a lot of positive things coming out of it. I’m pointing out that it’s up to you to choose your story.

I wonder what your Coronavirus story will be. Will you remember it as a lonely, depressing chapter of your life? Or will you remember it as the event that showed you what really matters in life? Will you come out of this bitter? Or will you come out of it stronger, wiser and more grateful than ever?

It’s your life. It’s your choice. It’s your story. You get to write it, so write a story worth remembering.