#851 Stoic Negative Visualization

A Practice in the Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

In our last couple +1s, we talked about a couple of ways to reframe life’s lemons into a little more Optimizade.

We started with “At least THAT didn’t happen!” and then sprinkled in some Stoic wisdom regarding rehearsing death and appreciating the “uncovenanted surplus” of moments.

(btw: I had to look up “uncovenanted.” It means: “not bound by or in accordance with a covenant or agreement; not promised by or based on a covenant, especially a covenant with God.” Yep. The wisest among us remember that NOTHING is guaranteed beyond this very moment…)

Today I want to chat about another unconventional Stoic practice.

It’s called “negative visualization.”

We talked about this in our Notes on William B. Irvine’s Guide to a Good Life in which he teaches us “The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.”

In fact, he tells us that he thinks this practice is THE “single most valuable technique in the Stoics’ psychological tool kit.”

Here’s how he puts it: the Stoics “recommended that we spend time imagining that we have lost the things we value—that our wife has left us, our car was stolen, or we lost our job. Doing this, the Stoics thought, will make us value our wife, our car, and our job more than we otherwise would. This technique—let us refer to it as negative visualization—was employed by the Stoics at least as far back as Chrysippus. It is, I think, the single most valuable technique in the Stoics’ psychological tool kit.

That’s Today’s +1.

Negative visualization.

If you feel so inspired and want to take this ancient practice out for a test drive Today…

Make a note of one or two or three wonderful aspects of your life.

Got it?

Now… Imagine losing them.

Got it?

Now… APPRECIATE all that awesome in your life.

T O D A Y!!!

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