I’ve had this uneasy feeling in my gut today: an urge to watch tonight’s GOP presidential debate. I mean, I want to grill a big steak and crack open a drink and hunch over a TV tray like a good old american. I’ll pour some crazy glue over my eyes so they’ll stick to the TV better.

I had all day to talk myself out of it, so I recalled the stoic thinker Marcus Aurelius: “The cucumber is bitter? Put it down. There are brambles in the path? Step to one side. That is enough, without also asking: ‘Why did these things come into the world at all?'” What he means is this: If something sucks, so what. It is infinitely unimportant.

Political debates have always been a source of entertainment for me — to watch a bunch of goons argue and demagogue (and then ultimately pat each other on the back and promise each other cabinet positions) so that people might draw little dots next to their names on fancy pieces of paper behind a curtain on a very special Tuesday.

But once I separated the physical event from the neurological response, I realized it is really no different than, say, watching Family Guy. Just a dopamine rush and that’s all. Did I take value from two hours of goon-watching? Did my life improve because of a zinger here or a chortle there?

Do I value frustration? Because that’s how I tend to feel after watching these things. Knowing that the only fourteen people who might be the next president all agree on horrible things does nothing to make me feel better. I also don’t value a certain smug feeling called “I told you so” that many people gain after they take their newfound opinions into the marketplace of ideas.

So what do I value, if not frustration and elitist smackdownage of neoconservative mediocrity? Well, that steak will be pretty tasty. Maybe I’ll just take that fine dinner of mine out onto my quiet porch and enjoy the peaceful solace of a sunset-glazed evening. Then I can reopen my copy of Aurelius and continue my personal journey to a more meaningful and self-sufficient existence. Eye-glue is much better applied to paper than TV screens, anyway.

The word stoicism originates from the latin stoa, which means porch, so it seems a fitting place to read Aurelius. Apparently the stoics all hung out on a porch to listen to lectures, and the name stuck. The practice of stoicism, as I understand it, is simply a way of viewing the world and all that happens in it through a lens called the Lotus of Control. Simply put, it is what one can or can’t change. I can change myself a lot, or I can change the national political discourse the least amount possible. So I’ll just focus on myself — where there is plenty to focus on, anyway. I don’t think I can end the Fed.

Another element of stoicism — what I just call “stoicism practice” — is the deprivation of comfortable things, in order to be prepared for that deprivation, should it ever actually occur. Forgoing fancy coffee drinks or going on a tech fast are simple examples of this.

And so for medicinal purposes, this recovering political junkie will be stoic and forgo tonight’s GOP debate — and hopefully all future debates in this election cycle. Parts of my brain will scream out for the latest soundbites about jobs or terrorism from the pantheon of goons on the stage, but part of me will be thankful and at ease that there is less racket to focus on outside of my lotus of control. I will be a better person for it.

In closing, let me write a quick review of tonight’s debate before it happens, because there’s really no need to listen in for any new information. The politicians on stage will say, promise, and rank on the exact same things the last politicians did an election cycle ago. And the one before that. And so on. Saying what people want to hear is just part of the game. And playing the game is the only way to keep it going.

Now, Aurelius only had to say the truth once, almost two millenia ago, and nobody likes to hear the truth. “What monstrous pleasures brigands, pathics, parracides, and despots enjoy,” he eloquently jabbed in his diary. Some things will never change.

He also wrote, “The noblest kind of retribution is not to become like your enemy.” One can start by improving oneself before telling others how to improve; and simply to step around the brambles — err, politicians — in the path. True freedom is just a little farther along.