On dealing with the ungrateful

Marcus Aurelius, in his Meditations, instructed himself this way:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly.

Given Marcus’ other writings, this seems like a harsh judgement of his fellow men. Marcus, like other Stoics, believed in reserving harshness for himself. He also believed in being unsurprised by people behaving according to their nature. So, how should we deal with the ungrateful in our lives?

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A Death at Christmas

On the day of my daughter’s 15th birthday I stood in the cold in the local churchyard with her, and well more than a hundred others, and waited for the body of her best friend’s father to arrive.

A very private man, I had met him only once, and didn’t know him at all.  Despite his private nature the crowd of people there was testament to the impact he had on many lives.  We were there to offer our support and consolation to his family, and to say goodbye to a brother, husband, father, co-worker and friend.  While we waited there, I thought that while it may not be obvious to us as we travel through our lives, the decisions we make have lasting consequences, and those consequences live beyond us.

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Pain and Gain

No, I’m not referring to the pretty terrible movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark (“The Stone”?) Wahlberg.  Neither am I thinking about the kind of chronic pain that a lot of us live with as we suffer injuries and deal with aging.  I’m thinking about learning through pain, and learning to embrace certain types of obstacles.

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