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Turning Laughter into Resilience: A Lesson from Marcus Aurelius

Humanity is funny: Despite thousands of years of knowledge, we can never seem to get out of our own way.

And the punchline is this:

All of our questions already have answers.

Here’s what I mean…

Recently life threw me a Banana peel, and like a mushroomed-out Mario Kart driver, I slipped on it and spun out of control.

And what was once a promising career ended in a Zoom meeting; in other words, I was laid off.

And when you’re laid off, you feel everything, fear, excitement, joy, pain. Everything.
But as uncertainty sunk its fangs deep into my neck until I felt a prick, I looked up and saw a nearly 2,000-year-old quote that completely changed my thoughts on the situation.

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

And damn, is it ever so true.

Let’s take a practical life example. You’ve been hitting the gym harder than a punching bag that owes you money, trying to get ready for a vacation, when one day, you overhear someone snickering at your workout routine, making fun of your efforts. Your self-esteem takes a hit, and you start questioning whether all those hours spent sweating it out were even worth it.

But wait, according to our stoic mentor Marcus, the laughter doesn’t cause the pain; it’s your estimate of their laughter that stings. Now, that’s some powerful knowledge! You can choose to interpret their snickering in multiple ways.

For example, maybe they’re jealous of your dedication, maybe they’re projecting their insecurities, or maybe they’re just having a lousy day and need to laugh at anything to cope. So, the real power lies in your hands. You have the ability to revoke the negative interpretation and reframe the situation. Instead of feeling down, you can embrace the humor in the moment and chuckle along, knowing that their laughter has zero impact on your fitness journey.

And it’s not just fitness; it’s life. Work, relationships, friends. The whole spread.

In essence, Marcus Aurelius is nudging us to develop resilience and emotional mastery. Life will always throw curveballs, and people will always have opinions, but you get to decide how you react to them. It’s like being the director of your own emotional blockbuster. You can edit the script, rewrite the scenes, and choose the emotions you want to star in your movie called life.

Your new job may be hard, but it’s harder in your head than in reality. Your relationship may not be perfect, but it’s better than you think. If you want to get the most out of life, win the battle in your head. Embrace the hard life, my friends, for that’s where the buried treasure lies.

No pirate ever found gold by sipping cocktails on a beach with a tiny umbrella. They did it by spending time out on the water. So, strap on your adventure hats and set sail for the rough seas because life’s biggest rewards are hidden in the wildest storms.

And remember, next time life tosses a banana peel your way, channel your inner Marcus Aurelius and don’t slip on that sucker. Instead, laugh it off, and keep on truckin’.

Please, Like, comment, share and tell me what you think!

48 thoughts on “Turning Laughter into Resilience: A Lesson from Marcus Aurelius

  1. Excellent quote! Life is hard, no question about it. We have to constantly conquer our thoughts. We wake up in the morning and have to decide, do we go left (doom and gloom) or do we go right (happy conquer the world) with our thoughts. Great quote to remind us – GO RIGHT! Hope all is well on your end.

    1. Thanks! I agree go conquer the word! Things are good – I have a new job, God is good and am focused on my book and just putting out more focused content – (ideas to live a better life and make it funny)

      1. Congratulations on the new job!! Onward and upward! Great news.

  2. Another excellenr piece…you are such a good writer. Your articles have a.little bit of everything, humor, life lessons, sarcasm, happiness, and best of all Soul. You should write a book series

  3. Love the quote and so true! It isn’t what happens TO you—it’s how you REACT to what happens to you that counts. At least that’s how the story goes—and life has made me a believer. Oh yes—that, and everything happens for a reason, something better will come along, new opportunities, a chance for improved everything, insides included! Thanks for sharing your insights!

  4. I like the way he used that word “estimate”: to assess value to something. We shouldn’t put too much value on other’s opinions of us.

  5. Good advice for preteens! Kids 11-15 worry so much about what others think about them. Once they turn the tide on those verbal bullies, they improve their life tenfold. Your layoff is their loss.

    1. Whoops, came out wrong – I agree it’s hard Forsure growing up today – but I think as along as people are reminded to live real life and not online life, they can be ok. Kids unfortunately don’t have the advantage of perspective … I feel bad for people growing up today but try to set a good example

  6. This is similar to Stoicism where you practice not letting things get to you. I try to incorporate this practice and it’s been a slow journey. I was in an environment where I let things get to me all the time. It gets better though. Thanks for the post!

  7. Anthony, Wonderful post and great thread here. Thanks so much for connecting this morning. Brings back memories of my ol’ dancing days. Had I only kept a copy of “Meditations” on my nightstand perhaps I could have saved myself a lot of wasted energy, disappointment and pain. I guess living through and coming out the other side with new strength, understanding and wisdom is what life is about. Thanks for reinforcing something I keep relearning (urgh) with your own experience, resilience and great humor! Deb

  8. I can relate to this personally. 3 years ago, I was laid off for the first time because of the pandemic. To cope, I jumped right into other positions in the same field of accounting. 2 months ago, I decided to pivot and pursue a vocation, instead of a career. Kudos to this post! Sail on 🙂

  9. Good one. Someone told me to count to 10 and breathe. After 10 years, got to count to five. Loud and rolling my eyes.. 🤣 But hey.. I do it! I do get a good laugh, for sure. It’s all about getting up and move on. Banana peels are sometimes all over the place.. one will get your bottom up. That’s when I laugh and get up. I know it’s not the last one, but definitely not the first one. 😆

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