Perseverance: 5 Lessons on How to Keep on Going

Tips on how to keep going when it feels impossible to do so.

Perseverance: 5 Lessons on How to Keep on Going

Accept Your Fate

“Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy.” – Epictetus

Adversity offers you the opportunity to reveal your authentic character. Thus, welcome hardship with open arms. Embrace the concept of "Amor Fati," loving your destiny, and cherishing each moment, even those that resemble hellish trials.

Consider the improbable odds of our existence. Yet, here you stand. You've already conquered seemingly insurmountable probabilities. Your existence is both rare and exquisite. Consequently, even our suffering takes on an uncommon and beautiful quality. Accepting your destiny doesn't imply an endorsement of unfortunate events befalling you. Rather, it signifies your recognition that adversity is an inherent facet of existence. This acknowledgment empowers us to persist, as it grants us the courage to take action. By loving and valuing every passing minute, we discover that we are not powerless; instead, we are merely engaging with the essence of existence itself.

Don’t Complain

“Everything that happens is either endurable or not. If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining. If it’s unendurable… then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well. Just remember: you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so. In your interest, or in your nature.” — Marcus Aurelius

You have two choices: persevere or give in. However, it's important to recognize that complaining doesn't necessarily improve your chances of success. Certainly, acknowledge your emotions and seek support from others, but avoid convincing yourself that failure is inevitable. Refrain from sharing such thoughts with anyone else, and don't declare that a particular struggle will be your undoing. In reality, complaining only makes enduring hardships more challenging. Marcus argues that you can endure anything if you convince yourself it's bearable. Allowing yourself to complain is essentially self-sabotage. While complaining might help you muddle through a situation, it erodes your inner goodness. To practice virtue in the face of adversity, we must maintain control over our own thoughts and refrain from indulging in complaints.

Don’t Just Sit There and Take It


“Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” — Seneca 

Seneca serves as a poignant reminder that we possess a degree of influence over our lives. When we procrastinate and delay taking action, we inadvertently grant our suffering dominion over us. To reclaim control, we must actively strive to put an end to our suffering. Perseverance is not a passive endeavor. It doesn't involve shutting down and waiting for hardships to pass. Instead, true perseverance manifests when we respond to our challenges with rationality and discern the path of virtue. So, seize the moment and persevere without delay.

Stop torturing Yourself

“We suffer not from the events in our lives, but from our judgment about them.” — Epictetus 

Perhaps much of our suffering is, in fact, self-imposed. In the face of difficulties, we often tend to internalize them as personal attacks. While it's crucial to take responsibility for actions that contribute to our suffering, it's possible to do so without subjecting ourselves to unnecessary pain. Instead of saying, "I lost my job because I'm lazy and stupid," you can state, "I lost my job because I did not meet the requirements for it." The distinction between these two statements lies in one expressing a judgment, while the other conveys a simple fact. When we rationally analyze why things occur, we endure less suffering.

Labeling ourselves as unintelligent for allowing something to happen not only fails to resolve the issue but also exacerbates our emotional distress. More often than not, unfortunate events transpire simply because they do. Taking them personally only makes it more challenging to actively address the problem. Recognizing that the situation is not entirely our fault can provide us with the courage needed to take constructive action.

Use Your Resources

“Prudent people look beyond the incident itself and seek to form the habit of putting it to good use. On the occasion of an accidental event, don’t just react in a haphazard fashion: remember to turn inward and ask what resources you have for dealing with it. Dig deeply. You possess strengths you might not realize you have. Find the right one. Use it.” – Epictetus

When faced with challenging situations, our instinct often propels us into a fight-or-flight response. Yet, one of the remarkable traits of being human is our capacity for rational thought.

Resist the urge to plunge into survival mode. Instead, take a moment to breathe and recognize that you have the chance to demonstrate your inner virtue. Not every circumstance demands an immediate reaction, and not everything requires a response. While perseverance involves active effort, it's perfectly acceptable to take some time to consider your course of action. Unless it's a matter of life or death, there's no need to react hastily. Allow the situation to simmer and give yourself space for thoughtful deliberation.

By Flynn McLaughlin