“We have the power to hold no opinion about a thing and to not let it upset our state of mind – for things have no natural power to shape our judgments.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.52
In this meditation, we are asked to consider all the negative things we don’t hear spoken about us, or, in general, the negative things that happen every day, all over the world. Because we know not of them we have no opinion about them. The suggestion is that we should practice non-opinion of those things we do encounter by acting as if it never happened.
Don’t give them the power. I like it. I like it a lot.
I’ve spoken of road rage before, but it’s worth repeating. When I taught both of my children how to drive I focused a great deal of attention on the narcissism of driving. When we get angry at what another driver is doing what are we assuming? That we know the why, and more often than not that why is personalized. The why is about “me”.
But is this something worthy of having an opinion? What evidence is afforded that would allow us to hold even the most basic of a well-reasoned opinion? Is holding this opinion going to increase our agitation?
The great thing about practicing non-opinion is that it opens us up to simply listening in an effort to understand. This ensures the mind is occupied instead of the emotions. You don’t need to have an opinion about everything. Maybe, just maybe, we should have fewer opinions, and spend our time getting better educated.
“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” – Robert Frost