Pain, suffering, and scuba diving

    In this post, Derek Sivers shares his experience of a panic attack during a scuba diving trip and being calmed down by his instructor. He then subsequently used the same technique to help someone else who wasn’t OK on a later trip.

    Pain and suffering are part of the human experience. For anyone ask “why me?” doesn’t make sense. There are those who dissimulate and those who don’t, but underneath it all there is hardship.

    There is less stigma around therapy than there used to be, but I haven’t met anyone (me included!) who hasn’t transformed their life for the better after going through some form of counselling.

    I learned a few lessons from this experience.

    There are things in life we think won’t apply to us: Panic. Addiction. Depression.

    I thought that was for other people. I thought I wasn’t that type. Why is this happening to me?

    But I learned so much empathy that day. These things that only seem to happen to other people can happen to me. We’re not so different. It helps me recognize it in others, and be most helpful by remembering that feeling.

    I imagine this is why people, who have been through really hard times, become counselors.

    That day also reinforced the power of imitation. My teacher calmed me down so well that it was best to just imitate him.

    Source: scuba, panic, empathy | Derek Sivers

    On struggle

    The popular view of life seems to be that mishaps, hardship, and struggle are all things that most people can avoid. If we stop to think about that for a second, that’s obviously untrue; in fact, the opposite is the case.

    This article in Lifehacker quotes Seneca, one of my favourite Stoic philosophers:

    “Why, then, should we be angry? Why should we lament? We are prepared for our fate: let nature deal as she will with her own bodies; let us be cheerful whatever befalls, and stoutly reflect that it is not anything of our own that perishes. What is the duty of a good man? To submit himself to fate: it is a great consolation. To be swept away together with the entire universe: whatever law is laid upon us that thus we must live and thus we must die, is laid upon the gods.”

    As part of my daily reading, I meditate on other tenets of Stoicism. The opening to Epictetus' Enchiridion tells you pretty much everything you need to know:
    Of things some are in our power, and others are not. In our power are opinion, movement toward a thing, desire, aversion (turning from a thing); and in a word, whatever are our own acts: not in our power are the body, property, reputation, offices (magisterial power), and in a word, whatever are not our own acts. And the things in our power are by nature free, not subject to restraint nor hindrance: but the things not in our power are weak, slavish, subject to restraint, in the power of others. Remember then that if you think the things which are by nature slavish to be free, and the things which are in the power of others to be your own, you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will blame both gods and men: but if you think that only which is your own to be your own, and if you think that what is another’s, as it really is, belongs to another, no man will ever compel you, no man will hinder you, you will never blame any man, you will accuse no man, you will do nothing involuntarily (against your will), no man will harm you, you will have no enemy, for you will not suffer any harm.
    It's also worth dwelling on this from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations:
    Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness all of them due to the offenders ignorance of what is good or evil.
    Suffering is part of life, and we should embrace it. Control what you can control, and let the rest go.

    Source: Lifehacker