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From Vol. 2, Issue 7, July 2020

What you do now matters


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Dear stranger...

the things that seem to stand in our way, maybe they are here for us. Not against us.

You and me, we’re from the same source. We’re all part of the same universe. And if the divine source created all of us, we all have a spark of the divine within us. Maybe we have forgotten... And maybe we can find it again. 

And if we are created by the universal source, we can imagine that the universe has our back. Maybe, the things that seem to stand in our way, maybe they are here for us. Not against us. Maybe these things are put in front of us to help us wake up. Maybe these seeming obstacles are stepping stones that help us grow. 

To see the challenges we’re facing each and every day this way, as stepping stones, we need to accept them in the first place. Maybe these are part of the divine plan. On the other hand, if we fight with what happens, we’re fighting against God, as Epictetus put it. (Discourses 4.1) 

There are two options: Either you fight against what happens, or you yield and accept. Put it this way, there is really just one option. We cannot fight with reality. This doesn’t mean we approve of everything that happens. It means we have to accept it first, because it already is. And only from this acceptance can we change something. 

Because what we do now with the given circumstances will co-determine what will happen in the future. Our actions in the present moment matter, not the circumstances we find ourselves in. As these circumstances are already here and cannot be undone. 

It’s what we do with the given situation that matters. We are able to respond to all situations, we are responseable. 

Our actions in the present moment matter, not the circumstances we find ourselves in.

To respond effectively to all life circumstances, we need to be aware in the present moment. We need to be here and now with our attention. So we do not react to the circumstance automatically, but we pause, and listen to our heart. Our heart knows what to do. But if we react too quickly, chances are high we react out of our past, from what we’ve acquired in the past. 

This could be helpful. But it could also be harmful. Because the present might be different from the past. It’s new. And as the universe is changing all the time, we might need to adapt. We might need to open-mindedly perceive this new situation, and respond appropriately. 

Be not swept off your feet by the vividness of the impression, but say: ‘Wait for me a little, O impression; allow me to see who you are and what you are an impression of; allow me to put you to the test’. 

Epictetus, Discourses 2.18.24–5 

Put your first impression to the test. It’s most likely an outdated and unreasonable old behavior pattern. It’s not well-fitting for this new situation. 


And look inside for an updated, fresh response. 

Pause and trust your inner wisdom.

Pause and trust your inner wisdom. As we’ve said, the divine spark is within you. If we listen attentively, we know how to respond. This requires awareness in the moment, and basic trust. 

O world, I am in tune with every note of thy great harmony. For me nothing is early, nothing late, if it be timely for thee. O Nature, all that thy seasons yield is fruit for me.” 

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.23 

Farewell, dear stranger. 

Jonas Salzgeber of is an author. At the core of his actionable philosophy lies the goal of leading a happy life even—and especially—in the face of adversity. He is the author of The Little Book of Stoicism.