Everything that happens is an opportunity for mastery.
Upon every accident, remember to turn towards yourself and inquire what faculty you have for its use. If you encounter a handsome person, you will find continence the faculty needed; if pain, then fortitude; if reviling, then patience. And when thus habituated, the phenomena of existence will not overwhelm you.
Japanse martial art Ju-jitsu’s aim is to use the force of the enemy against him. Stoicism is Ju-jitsu in the mind’s realm.
Everything that happens in our lives can be used as practice to become better at practicing virtue. Just yesterday to give an example, I fell off my bike and pounded in the concrete really hard, I suffocated and didn’t really knew for a moment what was happening. Eventually, I got up and everything seemed ok, except my ragged T-shirt and blood in several parts of my body, oh and a severe muscle pain in my hip. I wasn’t going to write anything today but then I stumbled into this Epictetus quote and decided to use my pain to practice fortitude, so now I’m sitting writing with a severe hip pain, but quite happy about it. So, in a way, thanks to this hip pain, I can write about how I’m using it to get better at something else. Stoic Ju-jitsu.
Virtue is the sole good. That’s our aim.
Hard choices easy life, easy choices hard life.
Our minds are the arena for vice and virtue. It is an endless battle that goes on and on and one that will never end until our lives come to an end.
But the mind and vice, more accurately, is extremely creative! The mind is always ready to offer us rationalizations as to why we can’t do something or why is better not to act and stay quiet.
This is extremely common in day to day practice. Has it ever happened to you that you realize in the morning that there are quite an amount of tasks that you need to get done to push forward on your life, important stuff rather than urgent stuff? But, then at the end of the day, you are just really tired and you really cannot set yourself to do anything other than relaxing and going to sleep?
At that moment, rationalizations come into play:
- I’m too tired.
- I’ll do it in the morning.
- I have too many days left to finish it.
Usually, that becomes a habit and nothing ever gets done. The next time you stumble into one of these situations practice Stoic Ju-jitsu.
Hard choices easy life, easy choices hard life, remember?
In the realm of the mind, stoic Ju-jitsu is practiced by using those rationalizations. Every “I can’t”, “later”, can be used as a sign that you need to actually do that which you least want to do. Use your rationalizations as signposts for action. Use them to practice your virtue.
Stoic answers aim is to provide answers to the deepest human questions, which sadly, are almost always never asked.
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