This guest post is an excerpt practice from The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber.
I hope you find it helpful and check out more of his work.
Don’t miss your chance to get a free copy of The Little Book of Stoicism below.
Take the Bird’s-Eye View – A Stoic Practice for Inner Calmness
“How beautifully Plato put it. Whenever you want to talk about people, it’s best to take a bird’s-eye view and see everything all at once—of gatherings, armies, farms, weddings and divorces, births and deaths, noisy courtrooms or silent places, every foreign people, holidays, memorials, markets—all blended together and arranged in a pairing of opposites.” – Marcus Aurelius
What a great exercise. Imagine you leave your body and float up in the sky. Higher and higher. You see yourself, your house, your neighborhood, other people, your town with its lake and river, until your body seems like a tiny seed, and further you go to see your country, the ocean, and even the whole planet.
This exercise derived from Stoicism helps you recognize yourself as a part of the whole. You see all human things from far above, like a bird first, like an astronaut later.
“You can rid yourself of many useless things among those that disturb you,” Marcus observes, “for they lie entirely in your imagination.” Many problems can be solved with this perspective from far above. Human affairs and your own misfortunes seem trivial from this perspective.
“And by contemplating the eternity of time, and observing the rapid change of every part of everything, how short is the time from birth to dissolution, and the illimitable time before birth as well as the equally boundless time after dissolution.” – Marcus Aurelius
Not only do our problems seem insignificant and dissolve quickly, but we also get reminded of the impermanence of things. We’re not only very small, but also very ephemeral. He says it perfectly: “Continually picture to yourself time and space as a whole, and every individual thing, in terms of space a tiny seed, in terms of time the mere turn of a screw.”
Next time you’re troubled, try taking a bird’s-eye perspective.
We often get caught up in our minds. So we screw up and imagine it to be a big deal. We’re lost in thought and don’t recognize its banality. We focus on the problem at hand and it seems like the most important thing on earth. Like a massive problem.
That’s when you want to take this view from far above. Your massive problem suddenly gets utterly insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe. This helps you put things in perspective, recognize the bigger picture, and stay indifferent to external things others mistakenly value—like wealth, looks, or social status.
Like a bird, fly high and gain perspective.
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If you’ve enjoyed this simple yet effective practice, feel free to check out the eBook 20 Stoic Exercises for free.
Jonas Salzgeber is the author of The Little Book of Stoicism and writes for a small army of remarkable people at njlifehacks.com. On his quest to be the best he can be he stumbled upon Stoicism – and got hooked. At the core of this applicable philosophy lies the goal of leading a happy life even (especially) in the face of adversity.
His practical rather than academic writing style helps people with the most important step: to put the wisdom from book page to action. Jonas shares Stoic strategies so people gain back their confidence and feel ready to deal effectively with whatever life throws at them.
The Little Book of Stoicism Amazon link for all countries: http://geni.us/thelittlebook
If you’d like the full ebook of The Little Book of Stoicism, download the 20 Stoic Exercises free ebook then reply to the email from Jonas. Let him know I sent you and you’d like a copy so he can email one. 😉
This offer won’t last forever so don’t miss it!
Wishing you all the resilience, confidence, and calmness you can muster. Now build it higher!