Airports Are Stoic Tests.

I’ve traveled a considerable amount, so I have had my fair share of interesting situations in airports.

I am writing this from an airport, where I have just been refused to fly to Vietnam from Cambodia because both my passports are too full — there’s not a completely clean page on either of them.

I knew this was a possibility, but I’ve had this issue before and managed to get through. Not this time.

So, I managed to book a last-minute flight to Italy, and all is good.

While I am not pleased that I get to miss my trip to Vietnam, or with the added expense, I am delighted with how I reacted to the entire situation.

I stayed calm, I was polite to the airport staff who were dealing with the situation, and as soon as I knew that I could not travel to Vietnam, I just switched into problem-solving mode and managed to get my new flight and the various documentation required.

In some sense, I am actually quite pleased that this happened because it allowed me to try a few of the Stoic tricks that I’ve been practicing for over ten years.

Seeing challenges or problems as opportunities is a pillar of the Stoic outlook. You cannot control the problem, but you can certainly manage your response to the problem.

First, don’t get upset about things you cannot control, and then start working on what you can control. Simple and practical advice that still resonates today as much as it did 2,500 years ago.

There is something to be said about old books and solutions. If it’s old and still used today, it is likely to have a lot of wisdom because it has survived the test of time. New ideas and solutions have yet to pass that test. For sure, they build on top of the ancients’ views, but they haven’t had generations of people try them out.

The other key thing that I thought about was just how lucky my situation was. There were several things that could have turned out worse than they did:

  • I didn’t need a PCR Covid test to get my new flight
  • The flight to Italy is only 20 hours, but recently, some flights have been 25 to 30 hours, so I actually got quite lucky!
  • A flight was leaving only one hour after my initially scheduled flight, so I didn’t have to spend another 1 to 2 nights in Cambodia to get a reasonably priced flight.

And I am sure that with a little bit more thinking, I could think of several dozen ways that the situation could have turned out worse, and instead here I am, waiting for my flight back home.

This technique of negative visualization is key to the good life. It can add a sense of relief to any situation that you find yourself in. It is pretty challenging to be in a situation where there is nothing that could happen to make it worse. Even if you are homeless with only your underwear — you could still lose your underwear.

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