You Decide The End of The Story

Perhaps you’re in the middle of some tough situation. A relationship might be ending. A job could be going poorly. You might have made a mistake and now you’re facing some unpleasant consequences.

Stoicism can’t change what happened. No philosophy is a time machine. What Stoicism can help with is what comes next.

When James Stockdale was shot down in Vietnam, he was taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. He spent seven years being tortured and subjected to unimaginable loneliness and terror. Nothing in Stoicism could alter the artillery that brought down his plane nor the conditions of his captivity. But Stoicism did provide Stockdale with a mindset that can inspire us all. As he said later,

“I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

That is what Stoicism offers us in the middle of these tough situations. We can bring this attitude to every bit of adversity we face, because we control the end of the story. We control the role this event will play in our lives. That’s on us. Always and forever.