Cato, the famous Roman Senator and Stoic, was once spat on by a rival politician. He was a physically tough man, a soldier, who could have, let’s say, taken matters into his own hands. Instead, he is reported to have laughed and said, “I will swear to anyone, Lentulus, that people are wrong to say that you cannot use your mouth.”
In another case, as we’ve written about here, he was punched and responded to the man’s apology by saying, “I don’t even remember being hit.”
Cato chose to choose how he responded. By that, we mean that he didn’t let his emotions respond. He didn’t lose his temper. He abided by Marcus Aurelius’s wisdom, “You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.”
Cato wasn’t perfect. He didn’t always respond this way. He could be petty. He could also be strong and use righteous anger. But in the moments that didn’t matter—in the moments when the only thing hurt was his pride and ego—he knew to hold back.
What nothings are you turning into something right now? What scrapes are you in that you don’t need to be in? See that you might choose how you respond to them.