Laura Ingalls Wilder had a hard scrabble existence. From the Kansas prairies to the backwoods of Florida, she and her family eked out a life from some of the most unforgiving environments on the planet. That’s what being a pioneer was really like. It wasn’t glamorous, it was hard.
Yet, what comes through in her work is the joy and happiness and beauty she managed to see despite all that hardship. “There is good in everything,” she later wrote, “if only we look for it.”
That’s what many of the best Stoic exercises are about—looking for the good. Or at least realizing that we have some choice in seeing things one way or the other. As Epictetus said, ultimately it’s not things that upset us, it’s our judgment and opinions about things that do. So, conversely, we choose not only to not be upset, but to be happy, to be grateful, to see life as an adventure that we can make the most of.
The task before you today is to look for that good, in anything and everything that you do. Because it’s there. If Laura Ingalls Wilder could find it in a one room cabin, amidst tragedy and terror and pain and pestilence, then you can find it at the office, in traffic and in the confines of modern life.
We all can.