“Don’t tell yourself anything more than what the initial impressions report. It’s been reported to you that someone is speaking badly about you. This is the report — the report wasn’t that you’ve been harmed. I see that my son is sick — but not that his life is at risk. So always stay within your first impressions, and don’t add to them in your head — this way nothing can happen to you.”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 8.49
Stick to your first impressions, and don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t let it grow within your head. Don’t let your mind build the situation into something it’s not. Very simple wisdom today from The Daily Stoic.
Essentially, just accept things directly as they’re presented to you, without adding your own assumptions or hangups into the mix. Take them at face value.
Coolly observe, rather than immediately passing judgment. Maintain control of your senses, and concern yourself with what you know to be true. Keep things “superficial, out of profundity”, as Nietzsche put it, instead of getting worked up.
Maybe your parents are like mine. They’re not very good at sticking to their first impressions. They quite often jump to conclusions, and usually dire ones. They let their minds run wild with all kind of worst-case scenarios.
I remember a specific time, I was in high school, and my mom was late in coming back from the supermarket. In fairness, she was a full hour late, at least. But my dad built up a horrible situation in his head: that my mom had been in a terrible car accident and was gravely wounded. He called all the hospitals, and panicked me quite a bit in the process.
Then eventually my mom turned up. She had taken a detour to go to another shop. That was it. She was fine, no accident. All that worry — for nothing, and ultimately harmful to us. If only he’d waited for more information, and stuck to his initial information.
More fun at the office
Recently I’ve written about some challenges at my workplace, and my struggle to stay calm and just set aside the situation that drives me nuts. I’ve learned to acknowledge the things I don’t have control over, and work within the space that remains. It’s been working!
A good part of this success has been due to ‘keeping things superficial’. When a new project comes down the pike, I don’t let my mind run wild with all the ways it could go wrong. When something does actually go wrong, I don’t jump to conclusions about what terrible effects this is going to have, and who’s going to be mad about it.
I just stick to my initial impressions, and accept things at face value. I welcome the silence, while doing my best to listen, and I avoid jumping to conclusions. I feel very calm this week, as a result. Success!