People are disturbed, not by things (that happen to them) but by the principles and opinions which they form concerning (those) things. When we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles and opinions”      – Epictetus

Did that quote strike a chord? It did to me the very first time I read it, still does now.

Sometimes, I think I deserve some spanking on my derriere or a hit on my head when I look back at some things I have done, decisions I have taken. But I am not one for regrets, so I laugh at myself instead and hope I learnt my lessons.

I am an opinionated being, I have my own opinions about stuffs and people and your own opinion does little to affect mine. My opinions are formed based on my own experiences and hardly because of what A or B said or thinks, (most times that is).

That is why it is very important that my opinions stay pure and positive. Imagine if I form my opinion based on what others (will) think or say, then I’d be living other people’s lives in the name of mine.

If the colour, height, age and bank account of a suitor hinder me from going ahead to marry him because I am agitated over what others will say or do, am I being fair to myself or to him at that?

If I reject a great man, with an excellent character, a guy that understands and tolerates my shortcomings more than anybody else, a guy that is there for me through thick and thin, that loves me unconditionally, just because I am like, ‘oh, what will my friends say about his race, oh, my siblings are going to feel insulted because he is not our class, no, my colleagues are going to insult me because of his age’, blah, blah, blah. What does that make me?

Little wonder the Holy Bible commanded us to guard our hearts with diligence because out of it flows the issues of life. My thoughts, opinions and principles ought to be on the positive as often as possible. Otherwise, I will be living a life of anger, disappointment, hatred, fear, jealousy, criticism and what have you.

If I fail to mind what goes on in my mind, and even what goes into it, I will become a total wreck in a short time. I remember when the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease came into Nigeria.

The media was constantly awash with news about the virus, mostly frightening news. My mind began to dwell on these, I began to analyse and dissect the virus and how fast and easily it could spread, how it has no cure. Before you know it, I began to fear about my future because if Ebola should spread from Lagos to Port Harcourt, then to other major cities, in one month, half the population would be infected!

I let fear and hopelessness practically take over my life, I began to die inside gradually. It took God’s intervention through a good friend to calm me down. Now, Ebola is not even in Nigeria anymore, thanks be to God. See how I wanted to kill myself because of the opinion I formed from what was going on around me.

Sometimes when you worry, do you pause to wonder why you are worried about that particular thing? When you fret about your job, is it because you cannot take care of yourself on this income or because you think that it is not where you ought to be? Is it not because you compare yourself at your lowest point to your friends at their highest point?

I think I will go with what Bill Copeland said, “Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell’”

If we can share this opinion of Democritus, that ‘Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul’, we would be the better for it.

Happiness is local!