What happens to you was not of great importance to the Stoics.
How you respond to what happens is all that mattered.
Think of all the heroes in history, whether in myth or reality. They
were heroes because of the trials and hardships they faced; they
embraced the gauntlet thrown down before them, accepting the
challenges life threw at them, and not only overcame adversity but
thrived because of it.
The Greeks and Romans often used Hercules as an example, and
asked what would have become of him without his labours? Without
battling the Hydra or slaying the lion?
Instead of loving our fate, and bearing our burdens with dignity and
courage, we spend our lives rejecting them and cursing them,
wishing if only it were different. We blame everything from where we
are born, to how we were raised and what hardships were wrongly
brought into our life, for the reasons as to why we are unhappy or
not where you want to be. What good has this way of thinking done
for us? or what we wanted to achieve in life? You may not have wanted it to happen but is has, and to overcome anything in life, we must first accept it, ultimately we have no choice.Once we accept it, whatever it may be, we must embrace it and ask ourselves how this can make us better/stronger. Do not see hardship as a wall blocking your path, but merely a stepping stone preparing to take you to greater heights.
It is also important that we take time to focus on the good in our life, the things we have to be thankful for. More often than not, taking a few moments to give thanks makes us realise that what we face is not all that bad.
Most of our existence is outside of our control; some people are dealt better hands than others. Ultimately, the winner is not the one with the best hand, but the one who plays their hand the best.
The Stoics likened it to being an actor in a play; you have been given your role by fate, and all your task is, is to play it to the best of your ability.
So, instead of asking why me? Ask yourself, how can this make better? How can I be stronger having gone through this? What virtue do I have within me to overcome this? Is it all that bad, what do I have in life to be thankful for?
Soon, you will see hardship as nothing but a test and come to the realisation that how you react to what happens to you in life plays a big part in what kind of life you end up having.
There is an old Roman saying: Ad astra per aspera. It means: 'Through adversity, to the stars'.
Suffering and adversity is a rotten fruit make no mistake, it will never be nice, it will never be pleasant; but within that rotten fruit are fertile seeds, which, if cultivated can grow into something beautiful and good.
Hardship and adversity have been squatters in your life for long enough, draining and stealing from you; it is time they pay rent, and this is through the lessons they teach you and the purpose and meaning they can give you.
Now the time has come for you to be the hero of your own life, you are not defined by a series of external events; you are defined by how you accept and respond to the past, present and future. Just as fire tests gold so does adversity test the brave. The test isn’t your downfall, it is the making of you; accept it, love it, and be the better off for it.
Make it a habit that whenever you feel life is against you, or all is lost, take stock of what you have and/or of what you have to be grateful for; is it your health? Your family? A soul that can bear misfortune with dignity and strength?
And always keep in mind that we must love both the good and the bad and embrace not only the beauty of the rivers and mountains, but the turbulence and storms life brings; don't simply embrace it, but thrive and excel because of it.
Questions to get you started
Do I spend more time wishing for that which I do not have, instead of being thankful for what I do have?
What do I have to be grateful for in life?
Do I waste time wishing for life to be different? Or do I accept reality and face it?
If I cannot change my current situation, how can I change myself to adapt to it?
Write a letter praising any hardship or difficulty you currently face or may have faced in the and how you will be better for having gone through it.
Quotes to inspire
The life of folly is empty of gratitude. Full of anxiety. - Seneca
He who is discontented with what he has, and with what has been granted to him by fortune, is one who is ignorant of the art of living, but he who bears that in a noble spirit, and makes reasonable use of all that comes from it, deserves to be regarded as a good man - Epictetus.
In the face of all difficulties apply this rule: It is not misfortune, nut bear it with a noble spirit, is good fortune. - Marcus Aurelius
When a storm from the Gods fall upon us. Endure, toil and do not complain - Marcus Aurelius
Remember that you are an actor in a play, for that is your business, to act the role that is assigned to you as well as you can. - Epictetus.