Let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands. – Seneca
What does that mean?
This is not the best citation ever, but that’s all I have. I find this interesting due to the way it is stated, which is mostly backwards.
Reversed, the quote states “Whatever the situation demands, we should train our minds to desire.” I prefer this order, as the situation will dictate what we need to do. And how our brain is trained will dictate how we will consider the situation.
When we are young and in school, the situation demands that we apply our minds to the tasks of studying and learning. Without such training, our schooling will not go well.
Later in life, we start our work life. Whether it is in the factory, the office or at home, the situation has changed. So have the demands of life. We must adapt or suffer, right?
Why is adapting to the situation important?
Imagine you’re normally a mouthy person, who makes smart-alec remarks all the time. If you’re called into the boss’ office, it might be the time to tone it down just a bit. The situation has changed, and it would be prudent for you to change just a bit, and for a little while, to accommodate it.
Of course you don’t have to, but there may be repercussions if your behavior isn’t in keeping with the mood of the meeting, right? The same goes for being called to the Principal’s office or being pulled over by the police. The situation just changed. How will you adapt your mind?
To an extent, we do this already. Just think back to the last time you saw an ad for something yummy on TV. How long did it take you to feel hungry? Did you ever smell that food, or get a hint of the taste of it? Did your mind desire what the situation presented to you? I know I have.
In short, life changes. As the situation changes, we have to adapt to the change, and our minds are key to that adaptation. If we need money, that is our situation. If we don’t train our minds to desire more money and find ways to accomplish that task, things will not be pleasant for us, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
We have already considered a number of ways we already do this, both with respect to food, money, and situations involving an interaction with a person of authority. How great of a jump is it to consider how many other places in your life you might already be using the principal of this quote?
My guess is that you have done so several times in your life in a large way, and many other times regarding smaller issues. If you had kids and they survived, you trained your mind to desire what the situation demands. Even if you really didn’t want to get up at 2am to change them, you trained your brain to react to what the situation demanded, right?
Any time your life changes quickly or drastically, the situation has changed. To continue doing what you have always done in the face of the new demands doesn’t sound like it would be very prudent. Instead, the quote urges us not to just change, but to re-train our minds.
Yes, we could simply force ourselves to do what needs to be done. We could just do it out of obligation or necessity. We could do it grudgingly or with a snarl on our face. But to do it that way is to live in misery. Regrettably, some people do it this way. Every day is a bad day, every day they have to do things they don’t like.
Instead of that, the quote urges us to retrain our minds. It urges us to adapt in a positive manner. Yes, we could be upset at how things have gone for us, but that’s neither going to change things, nor make our new lives any better, is it? Yes, we can go through a grieving process, but we do have to get on with our lives.
Sooner is better than later, and positively is better than negatively. And that is why the quote asks us to train our mind to desire or enjoy our new situation. We can focus on what is wrong in our lives, or what is going well. We can focus on the screaming kid at 2am, or we can focus on the loving bundle at nap time.
Either way, we gotta change the diaper, right? But if we have trained our mind to desire a clean, happy baby, it is a lot easier to get up and deal with the situation. The same goes for anything else in our lives. We can be miserable, or we can train ourselves to look for the silver lining in that cloud.
What are you willing to do to adapt to your present circumstances? What have you resisted to this point, which you can train your mind to desire? It isn’t anything big, it’s just your happiness at stake. You can spend your life being happy, or you can be miserable.
May I suggest you train your brain?