Try the Other Handle

“Every event has two handles — one by which it can be carried, and one by which it can’t. If your brother does you wrong, don’t grab it by his wronging, because this is the handle incapable of lifting it. Instead, use the other — that he is your brother, that you were raised together, and then you will have hold of the handle that carries.”


I really like today’s quote. It’s very unique, and very different compared to most of the other quotes in The Daily Stoic. It’s all about perspective, and changing how you view something in order to approach it from a different angle.

Try the other handle, implores Epictetus. There are two ways to look at everything. You could focus on the frustrating part — the part where you got the short end of the stick, and were cheated out of something that was rightfully yours. Or perhaps you received an insult, or were humiliated. Perhaps you were wronged in some other way, and it causes you to jump to conclusions about that person’s motives.

Alternatively, you could focus on what you have in common. What binds you to this other person? What do you love about them? What were their true intentions?

You could realize that harm is subjective, and it might just be how you’re perceiving it that causes you this self-inflicted anguish. But even if the harm is real, you could simply choose to let it go, and set yourself free in the process.

In the end, one of the few things that are within your control in this life is which handle to use; which perspective to apply. Holiday’s book challenges us in today’s entry to try the other handle and see if it brings us a happier and more fruitful result — one that carries the relationship forward instead of damaging it.

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