Intentional or not, this is a restatement of a fundamental building block of stoic philosophy: forming a grateful disposition.
Where is the line between a 'non-event', a minor inconvenience, and a tragedy, in terms of your emotional response, its effects on your attitude? There is no line, unless you choose to draw it.Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Some who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself.
Whatever happens, you can find it to be a challenge or an opportunity, rather than a burden or hardship.Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else, but not to yourself.
This outlook is far from an alternative to rational thought, as you say. You need not avoid unpleasant truths, but rather accept that truth is truth, and 'unpleasant' is only an opinion.With every accident, ask yourself what abilities you have for making a proper use of it. If you see an attractive person, you will find that self-restraint is the ability you have against your desire. If you are in pain, you will find fortitude. If you hear unpleasant language, you will find patience. And thus habituated, the appearances of things will not hurry you away along with them.
The point is not to be depressed thinking about such things, but to learn to accept that they are part of reality, which removes the sting or surprise when sickness, disaster or death come calling. This is a photo I like to bring to mind every time I start to get upset or down:Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible be daily before your eyes, but chiefly death, and you win never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything.
These people were freed by the allies on their way to a concentration camp. Why is it useful to me? Look at the joy on their faces. What do they have at that moment, and what do I have right now? They had lost most of their families, their homes, their jobs, their possessions, virtually everything. Yet, they were happy just for the chance to start over with nothing. Why shouldn't I be happy to carry on with what I already have? If I can choose to see my situation through their eyes, I can see opportunity instead of roadblocks, hope instead of despair.
I would not say this outlook is irrational in the least, though it may stretch the limits of what many people see as rational. They may feel they have no choice about what opinions to form about events. Yet, it is fair to say opinion is one of the few things fully in your control.
(Quotes are from The Enchiridion, by Epictetus) http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.htmlSome things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.
The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.