The stoics are not alone in harnessing the power of negative visualization. Consider, for example, those individuals who say grace before a meal. Some presumably say it because they are simply in the habit of doing so. Others might say it because they fear that God will punish them if they don't. But understood properly, saying grace - and for that matter, offering any prayer of thanks - is a form of negative visualization. Before eating a meal, those saying grace pause for a moment to reflect on the fact that this food might not have been available to them, in which case they would have gone hungry. And even if the food were available, they might not have been able to share it with the people now at their dinner table. Said with these thoughts in mind, grace has the ability to transform and ordinary meal int a cause for celebration.
I just recently finished reading A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy and no recent book has resonated quite as strongly with me. I enjoyed so many parts of this book that I didn't want to write a traditional review but instead wanted to share direct quotes that will explain much better than I what Stoicism is and is not.