Stoic advice

Fight for growth


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I wrote a post recently about being a leaner and a non learner.

Being a learner makes all the difference, it really does.

If you didn’t read the post, it talks about the growth mindset from Carol S. Dweck.

Having a growth mindset is incredibly rewarding. With this mindset you consciously set your mind (volition, within your control) up to focus on improvement of whatever it is that you are trying to become better at. Things can and will go better if you focus your mind first on believing it can be done first and secondly by taking action from that point on.

ed4eec889e9eea34aa70179175630d13It’s quite logical as well. It’s obvious that if a person sets his mind up from the beginning into thinking that anything can be achieved as long as work is put on and really understanding the functioning of what you are trying to achieve. Eventually you’ll come up with the solutions to achieve whatever endeavour you are in.

If however, you set your mind into thinking something is impossible, you will  set yourself up into a voluntary trap as there will be no questioning of how to even begin. Plain logic isn’t it?

This is what the brain is for anyways, it serves us to solve problems. Give it a problem, it comes up with solutions, but, it has to have the right mindset.

Problems and conflict serve the brain in that they are “exercise”. The bigger the problems, the bigger the growth that will happen. This is why: You can tell the size of a man by the size of his problems.

Until now, it’s all very pretty and nice. You change your mindset,  change your basic approach to life and that’s about it. Easy right?

Through journaling for the last 7 days,  I’ve come into some dark and hard realizations. The journal showed me some quite enlightening facts about my habits and behaviors. Today, especially, I began to understand more deeply what a true growth mindset is.

And believe me it is not pretty (at least in the short-term).

Growing is the most marvelous and the most terrible process that we can go through. Let me explain why.

First, Harry Potter.

There is part in the second movie when the handsome and ironically good for nothing professor Gilderoy Lockhart takes accidentally removes the bone from Harry’s arm. Harry then has to spend the entire night at the nursery growing his arm back again. When Harry takes the potion for the bone to grow back, he experiences one of the most horrendous and painful nights of his life. What does this has to do with you?

I believe there are some things and habits within ourselves that are similar to Harry’s experience. In the sense that they are deeply rooted and not always necessarily beneficial. It’s not going to be pretty to accept situations that haven’t changed in years and then suddenly try to change them.

It’s not going to be fast. It’s going to be painful and weary. But it’s going to be definitely worth it.

“If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.

SysyphusWhen we first start exercising, it seems tedious. Getting up at five in the morning for a run might not be fun (at first). It’s difficult to get up out of the incredibly comfortable bed, put up the running shoes, drink some water and hit the street for a run.

The first few days are going to be grinding. Muscles ache and if you stayed up late, you will feel tired during the day (but it’s going to be worth it). The good news is that this happens for the first few days. After a couple of days, you begin to look forward for it, the runner’s high is just too addictive to stop. Strength and endurance begin to build in the body and not only in the physic, but mentally as well, you get tougher. During this grind and by enduring the pain (short term) of getting up and working out, you get stronger. This is growth and it starts to become addictive.

Everyone struggles with these short term efforts, even Marcus Aurelius.

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.”

― Marcus AureliusMeditations

To grow at anything, you must work with pain, just like in exercise pain is good. This pain however feels different, it feels good, just like the ache of your muscles after you’ve finished.

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

― Epictetus

Growth requires stretch. Stretching our minds and bodies out of our known threshold. You have to get to the unknown.

vintage-boxing (1)This is other of the reasons why growth hurts (mentally as well) , you have to be willing to look stupid, to fail.This is how you grow, making the unknown known and that can only be achieved through experimentation. Experimentation requires information and being able to try any approach (looking stupid) gives you information to know wrong from right.

One thing to say about human beings, we don’t like what we don’t know or understand. We love our comfort zone. As clichéd as it is, it is very true. There is no growth in the comfort zone.

Growth requires of us to boldly go into the unknown.  Embrace risk and insecurity. To repeat Epictetus:

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

― Epictetus

So, how can you begin?

Be willing to be wrong and experiment.Understand and know that the more information you get through experimentation the more you will start to understand and master how anything works. From having a better personality to playing better baseball. Growth hurts in the short-term but in the long-term is bliss.

Steve Jobs understood it:

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

― Steve Jobs

Stoicism is a timeless philosophy used by some of the greatest people on the planet. Stoic answers is the modern day stoa, the first place where stoic philosophers got together to talk about how to live life best. Let us help you on your way with stoic answers. Subscribe for our letter. Thanks.

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