Roman Emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius was prescient by 2000 years when he included in his writings that “fear does us more harm than the things of which we’re afraid.” FDR continued the thinking with “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This was a part of his first inaugural speech when he was talking about the great depression.
However FDR’s ‘sound bite’ was just that. The entire quote is:
“Let me asset my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
The Stoics that originated this philosophy were stating that we need to look inward. Their belief was that the thing we fear, the pandemic in this case, is not nearly as great, as the emotional fear it creates. The pandemic may harm your body, but the fear decimates your soul.
Marcus Aurelius understood the need to look at the only thing you can truly control, your own thoughts and feelings. I cannot stop the pandemic, but I can adjust how I react to it. I cannot make the economy perfect, but I can adjust how I react to it.
Fear can be paralyzing. I am so afraid I cannot move, I cannot think, I cannot react. If we can control the fear, we can see clearly, we can review our options, and we can press on.
Werner Ehrhardt has been quoted:
“you can live your life out of your circumstance or you can live your life out of your vision”
I know which one I prefer.