February 18

“In company take care not to speak much or excessively about your own accomplishments or trials; for as it is pleasant for you to discuss your troubles, it is equally unpleasant for others to listen to you discuss them.” – Epictetus

As we listen to people in conversation, especially as we listen more and talk less while we practice disciplining our emotional response to things, we will notice a pattern. In many normal everyday conversations, a large majority of us send a good deal of energy and time complaining about the hardships they are currently enduring. If we are discussing anything positive, if we are paying attention, the positive talk can usually be described as bragging.

If we are truly listening and observing within the group, neither the complaining nor the bragging do much to add value to anyone’s day. Instead we seem to share our negative experiences with one another or try to make each other feel like we’re doing better than they are.

Instead, for today and as many days as we can, let’s try to actually just listen more and when someone is sharing anything with us, positive or negative, rather than feeling like we need to chime in and top their story with one about us, let us instead try to ask, “What else?” Perhaps we can even get someone to share something truly positive with us. Regardless of the outcome, the exercise itself will be good for us to practice.

virtus fortis vocat

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