The idea in the picture is a laughably simple one. Worries can only become greater with every moment one will spend worrying about them and not trying to solve them if they are solvable. If they are not solvable the best method just might not be to dwell in them.
It just could be wise to try diminish the effect that these worries do have. This is naturally the essence of some of the central ideas in the Stoic philosophy. Of course, there are people who just could not live if they could not complain about the things that they see as wrong in their lives and around them. They just seem to get real relief from this activity. This piece is not for them and they can stop reading now. However, I think that they are a minority.
Very many people just could get better lives if they could let go for a moment and really live for the day. Many people just need to grab the possibilities that life really can offer. People could do it, if they just could avert their minds out of their pains and sorrows even for a short moment every day.
Of course, this idea a thing that is laughably easy to say and devilishly difficult to implement in practice, but as the one of the great Stoics, Marcus Aurelius said:
Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; but if a thing is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach."
Things that are seen as humanly possible in this quote need not be on the class of writing a new symphony or throwing the javelin at a world record. The thing could just as well be just about having even some semblance of peace in one's mind. Others have managed to do it, why would not I be able to do it also?
It is good to remember just at this point how Marcus Aurelius also wrote this little sentence in his great book "Meditations". He said simply this:
Very little is needed to make a happy life."
I think that this little sentence carries a tremendous weight. It is like an iceberg that really must hit you before you can grasp its awesome immensity. I must still point out that there are two quite distinctive categories in use here:
A) the things that you can change
B) the things that you cannot change
The view that Stoicism is all about forgetting the things in category B is a very common misinterpretation of the Stoic ideas. This idea is just the one that was used also by the early Christians and followers of other schools of philosophy to discredit Stoicism. This idea will of course lead to determinism and fatalism, but I must again emphasize that the big thing in my mind is trying to change things in category A first.
I just might of course be putting a much greater emphasis on this feature of chancing things that bother you than the Stoics of the Roman times did. Our society has perhaps evolved to be such that there are more things that people can at least try to change than was the case in the times when the original Stoics walked the street of Rome. Of course, the really hard part is trying to determine which things are such that we can change them and which are not. Sometimes it can be easy. Sometimes it is outright impossible.
No solution to any major human problem can ever be absolutely true. However, the less people keep dwelling on problems that they cannot really solve, and the more they keep trying to solve the problems that they can really solve, the better can be their general mental condition.
PS. I must still stress that I do not mean at all that one should not try to find and most of all also solve the underlying processes that cause worries in human life. This need and drive for betterment is the real force that drives our societies forward. I am referring to worries on a personal level here.
A person can also try to make our common world a better place. One can do it even if he or she tries not to worry too much about things in his or her own life which he or she one really cannot change.
(This piece was completely refurbished on 12h of February, 2013)