Seneca had this thing where once a month he would practice poverty. He’d scale down his diet, sleep on the floor and stay away from business. Like a solider who performs maneuvers in times of peace, he said, you should practice misfortune in times of fortune. The idea being that fear is mostly bred from unfamiliarity and unfamiliarity is easily fixed.

Think about your reaction to getting fired right now, unexpectedly. It’s one of those nervous, churning feelings that pump through your system. Back up 10 minutes and you witness something horrifying and quit on the spot out of principle. How different are those feelings? But it’s the essentially the same result: you not working there anymore.

Let’s not kidd ourselves, there is more to good and bad than just perception. It’s not honest to pretend like you have total control over your emotions. We scientifically do not. You do, however, have the ability to create perspective. Almost nothing takes away your ability to inject that into the situation. So use it.

If you’re someone who is inside their head a lot like me, it’s really easy to forget that everything almost always ends up okay. It’s depressing and an anxious way to live. It sucks. If you can realize – try and picture – that the very worse thing that could possibly happen is _____ and be fine with it, then the pressure disappears.

The Fear is something that you opt-in to. Seneca’s lesson is just one way to opt out.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.