Cassius Longinus’s “Cui bono?” is the question to ask whenever you are looking to explain head-scratching decisions you don’t understand or why people act in a certain way. It’s a useful tool for reading the news or helping to arbitrate at work or at home.
Here is an extract from a book about Cicero’s advice on oratory:
“Cicero earlier in the speech had invoked the famous legal maxim of Cassius Longinus, Cui bono (“To whose advantage?” or “Who stood to gain?”), a question invoked still today in court when attempting to establish the probability of motive.”
Here’s the context for what Cicero said in his address to a jury:
“Up to this point, gentlemen of the jury, I see that all the evidence points in one direction—that for Milo, it was actually advantageous for Clodius to continue to live, while for Clodius, the death of Milo was the realization of everything that he had so earnestly desired; that Clodius’s hatred toward Milo was extremely bitter, while Milo harbored no hatred at all;” – Cicero
Follow the money and you normally find out who stood to gain.
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”- Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives
Don’t hang on too long. Loyalty is an admirable character trait, but sometimes people confuse the fear of letting go with devotion. It shouldn’t feel like a fight every day. Choose to work on things that bring you joy and energize you. Choose to hang out with people who reciprocate giving and make you laugh.
It’s sad when I hear people describe their day as ‘the daily struggle,’ ‘it could be better,’ ‘not bad, I can’t complain,’ ‘it’s a slog.’
Wake up and listen to yourself. Stop framing your life as a daily grind or a Cold War with some kind of enemy.
Can you excel at something new, do you have what it takes, will be good enough? These are questions everyone asks when they start new jobs, new companies or meet new people. Once you overcome the fear of building new things, then you’ll be able to tap into all the energy you’ve been using to fight the old.
Stop lurking on social media. Lurking is the same as consuming content. You are still ‘using’ even if you aren’t posting. Just because you don’t post doesn’t mean you aren’t being sucked in and manipulated with an endorphin hit. I’ll bet that most people who say they don’t use Facebook actually spend the same amount of time as everyone else scrolling through photos.
Give yourself a break for maintenance and downtime. It’s like those jet planes that fly from New York to London every night. They land in London, passengers get off, the plane is cleaned, refueled, and the new crew arrives. Over time the components wear out and need to be maintained, so it’s taken out of circulation, rested and fixed up.
Do the same thing for your brain with social media. Turn it off for a day or a week. See how you feel after a digital fast. You might not come back and that’s okay.
Take one day at a time. The sun always comes up the next day.
You can only connect the dots looking backward. There will be time for retrospectives later. Now is the time for action.
Over-communicate, don’t bottle it up. Sometimes verbalizing a fear is like slaying the imaginary dragon. Other people will also give you perspective and shared experiences.
Ask yourself how you will feel about this two years from now. It’ll put things in perspective.
Separate what’s out of your control but don’t ignore it.
Worry and stress about things that are certain. Don’t spend energy on worrying.
Ask for help and share the load. Family, friends, co-workers will surprise you.
Stick to your principles and maintain integrity. People will know, and more importantly, you’ll know that when the pressure was on, you dared to be true to yourself.
Take a few deep breaths and check out for a bit. Try to get some sleep and exercise. Sleep and exercise compounds and is a magic stress reliever.
Stay off the coffee and booze.
Keep moving forward and don’t put your head in the sand.
It could be worse.
Kick the stimulants, and you’ll be able to listen to and trust your body again.
Stimulants like caffeine or sugar mute 🤐 your bodies internal communication network. It’s like driving a car on a long trip with a faulty temperature or fuel gauge. The radiator may be leaking water, but your temperature gauge tells you that everything is A-Okay. So you keep driving until you blow a gasket, and have a costly repair on your hands. It’s the same for your body.
When you cut out the synthetic uppers like caffeine, the body’s fatigue warning lights aren’t muted anymore, and it quickly becomes apparent to you when you need to rest and recuperate.
Over time you’ll start to trust your body again.
Instead of spending your energy trying to get away from your current situation or life, take a moment to acknowledge how fortunate you are for what you have right now. That shift in thinking will redirect your energy to building on your current situation.
Stop dreaming about some nonexistent life and start figuring out and appreciate the life you’ve got. Today is a perfect time to feel happy.
The best way to break out of a funk is to do something. Don’t wait for good or bad things to happen. Work out what you can control or influence and start from there.
Know the difference between things that are beyond your control, but that you can predict. Just because you can’t control the power of the sea, doesn’t mean you can’t surf a wave or run with the tide.