Step One – Quote: It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. Epictetus
SEL Connection: Life is a mystery on so many levels. Things happen, we react. Then other things happen and we react. There are times we wonder why things happen the way they do, we get confused and then we resolve the confusion by saying “everything happens for a reason.” And then we move on, until the next unexplained event happens and we’re back to the start, perplexed. How things happen (determinism) and what we can or can’t do about them (free will) are two things that are very difficult to reconcile.
Claim: Epictetus has a good point for the determinism angle. if we sit down and think about it, much of our life is beyond our control. Our birth, what city we grew up in, our parents, our personality. The list goes on. We don’t control any of these things. Epictetus assures us, though, that we can control how we think about the hand that is dealt us. In practice this means we can choose to complain about the fact that we aren’t born into wealth, or we can accept it and focus on other things that give us joy. We have the power to shape our attitudes.
Next Post — Steps Two and Three: Turn the free will/determinism debate into an essential question.