The stats get thrown around all the time. You’ll spend more than a year of your life sitting in traffic. Over 50,000 minutes brushing your teeth. 43 days waiting on hold. Over 10 years at work.
It’s supposed to make you sad, despair how much life we waste. Yet there is no reason this has to be true. The Stoics certainly believed that much of life was outside our control and would have accepted that fate—and society—would subject us to all sorts of things we might not have otherwise chosen.
The important factor for them was how we do these things. “It stares you in the face,” Marcus Aurelius wrote, “no role is so well-suited to philosophy as the one you’re in right now.” The same could be said for tasks and the inconveniences of life. You can practice philosophy while you brush your teeth or sit in a doctor’s office waiting room. You can practice philosophy while you’re at work just as well as you can in a library.
Do it well. Do it honestly. Be in the present moment. Be grateful that you’re alive. Focus on what you control. Question your own destructive thoughts. That’s philosophy. And it’s just as necessary while you’re stuck on the turnpike or eating dinner as it is anywhere else.