Stoic advice

The single most important stoic decision.


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There is a famous and quite accurate stoic comparison of our lives with a donkey and a cart that says: Our way through life is like being a donkey tied to a cart. The cart is going to go where it is going to go, nothing to do about that. The donkey is tied, so it has to follow as well. The donkey has two options, follow willingly and therefore reducing annoyances for him and everybody in the cart or forcibly, therefore increasing trouble for him and everybody else.

This is a profoundly important lesson. Life can be lived in fear or in love and by love I mean courage, temperance and basically everything that is good and noble in a human being. You can say that you can live your life with virtue or with vice, the dark side or the way of the Jedi. Think of it however you like, but those are the two basic ways of being.

“Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant.”

― Seneca

There is a price to pay for everything in life. Think of any situation in your life that you Michael_Zeno_Diemer_-_Ship_at_Seadon’t like. If you want to get out of it, it is possible, but a price must be payed. Inaction is a form of action as well and a price must be payed for inaction.

Can you see where I’m going?

Know that there is always a price for everything. This goes for the way you live your life as well. If you live in vice, in protection mode, the price that you have to pay is literally hell. Not in the afterlife, but right now.

The opposite is true as well. If we choose to be led by fate willingly and live our lives from love, courage and temperance. Life will be a whole lot easier and much more rewarding. Jordan Peterson explains this in 12 Rules for Life:

Your nervous system responds in an entirely different manner when you face the demands of life voluntarily. You respond to a challenge, instead of bracing for a catastrophe. You see the gold the dragon hoards, instead of shrinking in terror from the all-too-real fact of the dragon. You step forward to take your place in the dominance hierarchy, and occupy your territory, manifesting your willingness to defend, expand and transform it. That can all occur practically or symbolically, as a physical or as a conceptual restructuring.

To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the to please God, in the ancient language).

This is the single most important decision you can make at every moment of your life. Choose wisely. Who knows, maybe you’ll start leading the cart yourself if you start pulling.

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