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Pleasantly or Unpleasantly Surprised?

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If you had a choice, would you rather things be better than expected or worse than expected? Obviously the former than the latter, right? Well, according to the Stoics, that’s very easy to ensure. It doesn’t require being pessimistic, but it does require spending a little time anticipating the various ways that things might go wrong.

The problem is that most of us–because we want to see ourselves as positive people–look at the world through rose colored glasses. Or, because it’s easier to be unaware than aware, we don’t look at the world around us at. In both cases, we’re setting ourselves up to be unpleasantly surprised. We’re setting ourselves up to be shocked out of our stupor.

Seneca reminds us that this is dangerous. A better option is to anticipate Murphy’s Law—to consider where things might go wrong and mentally prepare for the possibility. If it doesn’t happen—hen great. If the worst case does happen? Well, then Seneca reminds us that, “the man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.”