Notes philosophy

Negative Visualization (Week 10 of Wisdom)

Imagine losing everything you own, your health, and everyone you love. Too depressing, I know. But for the Stoics, this was a daily routine. And not for nothing, the Stoics realized that there was something about human psychology that worked against us.

We lose a sense of urgency and relish for life when things are going our way. We are constantly in search of what we do not yet have, and in this way, we are never satisfied. Even worse, we do not make the most of our time – we do not know how to live.

We worry about things that don’t matter and push away the things that matter the most. We rationalize to ourselves that now is not the time, that it is too soon, or that we are not yet ready – we wait for some vague future date that will bring us what we really want.

It is only after some tragedy befalls us; a war or a pandemic or an illness, that we rethink our value systems. Suddenly, we wake up to realize that so much of what we do is a pointless waste of time, and so much of what we want to do is never pursued.  We realize how precious time is, and how important it is to make the most of it.

Negative visualization should not be an unexpected painful reminder of what we are doing wrong, such as when a pandemic forces you to realize what you really miss the most. We should not wait for a catastrophic or distressing event to know how to spend our time wisely, and to value what we have. We should do this every day, as part of our daily ritual.

If you want a life without regrets, then practice negative visualization. While scary at first, it is freeing and cathartic.

4 replies on “Negative Visualization (Week 10 of Wisdom)”

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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