The clarion call of CBT is this quote from Stoic philosopher, Epictetus: “People are disturbed not by things but by the views they take of them.” The lynchpin for both Stoic philosophy and CBT/REBT is rationality. Both want you to look at life realistically, sensibly and pragmatically.
This often gets confused with accepting your lot, with accepting your miseries and that’s that. Rationality then gets confused with being emotionless: neither happy, nor unhappy, which simply isn’t the case. REBT wants us to have happy, fulfilled, pleasurable lives by striving for our ‘enlightened self interests and goals’. Sure, that’s a little harder to do when life seems to be repeatedly giving you a short shrift. But, as the saying goes: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Yes, REBT helps you to let go of being emotionally stuck and of being disturbed no matter how testing the events you face, it also wants you to be positive and happy wherever possible.
Rationality advocates that you let go of your problems (such as past relationships and painful memories), accept things as they are (such as events, other people and yourself) but, above all else, to then focus not on the bad things in your life, but the good.
As another Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius put it: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
So, choose good quality ones as often as you can.
Daniel Fryer – Lecturer CCBT