Negative Visualisation and Desire
Negative visualisation is the practice of imagining losing what you currently value. By doing this daily, the stoics believe you prepare yourself for loss, and are able to appreciate what you have in the moment with deeper meaning.
For example, a father while playing with his children who takes a moment to contemplate the loss of a child will for a moment feel sad, but over time has done two powerful things. He has recognised that the health and safety of his children isn’t completely in his control, and is prepared for the possibility of tragedy. He has also reminded himself to value the moment he is sharing with his child as if it may be the last. By confronting the negative emotion and consciously considering it we reduce its power over us.
Irvine says this is the best way for a beginner to start practicing stoicism. With little effort you can see great rewards. It’s been about 2 or 3 weeks since I finished Irvine’s book and I’ve noticed great results. In hindsight I realise I’ve done this throughout my life without being aware of it.