It’s Not the Event, It’s How You React

“It isn’t events themselves that disturb people, but only their judgments about them.”


Events aren’t upsetting. Events aren’t even good or bad, really — they just are. They’re neutral by nature, and they only take on a positive or negative label when we ascribe it to them based on our perception.

We have a choice in how we perceive these events. We choose how we want to react, and we determine how it’s categorized in our brains. It’s up to us whether that apple falling on our head is a good thing, or a bad thing.

Even those things which almost everyone would consider negative — losing your job, for example — aren’t automatically harmful to us. They become harmful when we say they are, when we react negatively. It’s because harm is subjective. We decide how harmful something is by our reaction. And on a different day, in a different situation, we could look at losing our job as a good thing. And then it is a good thing, subjectively — because we say it is.

So the quote above from The Daily Stoic is a reminder of all this: that it’s not the event which disturbs you, but it’s how you react that causes all your anguish. And that’s good news, because how you react is one of the few things that is within your sphere of control.

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