Two days ago, I was taking the bus to work. I was hearing some song from Emancipator waiting for the next bus to arrive at the station. When it finally arrived, one of the doors was stuck and made the passing annoyingly difficult. There were several people waiting to get it in, so the process to do it was not pretty. Naturally, I had to push a little aggressively to get in as I was also in a hurry. When I got on the bus I realized I wasn’t hearing music anymore, my phone (apparently) got hooked with something or someone and fell into the bus rails, then, some guy jumped to the rails, took the phone and started running like a madman. I didn’t know at the moment that I had to lose to learn.
My phone fell from my pocket, landed on the rails and then got stolen by some guy.
Living in Mexico’s city is not easy nor enjoyable without a Maps app. It’s really, really big and getting to places isn’t easy.
Imagine what I went through at the moment. Anger, despair, fear, hopelessness, just to mention some of the emotions I felt.
I felt as Ryan Holiday would say: “The pestilence of panic”.
It is in this moments in which stoicism becomes what it truly is, a tool, a mindset. A tool to manage through life’s difficult situations. Panic is a hard emotion to handle, it numbs you from acting rationally. At that moment, however, I started thinking stoically (thank logos).
- What is it directly under my control right now?
- What is the best way to act?
- Is it rational to give in to emotion right now?
Stoicism is a marvelous tool. If you really think about it, we always know what the “next step” is. It’s a matter of acting courageously on it.
When you’re scared you get numbed. By doing this, however, you shoot yourself in the foot, because, by not doing what needs to get done, things are not getting better, they are getting worse.
You have to say GOOD, whenever anything happens.
Panic and fear are never good ideas providers, it’s difficult to calm yourself down and act rationally, but that is precisely what will make things better.
Inaction creates more problems. Action creates advancement and solution.
What stands in the way becomes the way
Today, As I awoke, I started thinking about all of the negative feedback I had in the previous days. I lost count of how many times I got called an idiot for losing my phone.
The problem comes when you start to believe this, the first day, I was embarrassed and I did felt like an idiot, but I kept aggressively concentrating in that which was under my control, again, not easy, but doable.
Concentrate on the next action do it and then do the next one, that is the way to go. If you do this, you’ll not even have time to mourn yourself as you’ll be busy, actually getting shit done.
I have to say, I’m actually quite glad that I read Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. They are great men, men of action, men of wisdom and men whom I trust. Stoicism is a tool, it really has helped me go through many situations in my life in the best way imaginable. This made me think that many people do not have this marvelous psychologic tool to use in their lives. That’s why you hear so much negative feedback instead of actionable feedback. “You are an idiot” will do nothing to fix something, “what are your options?”, is way better.
If you have to fix a chair, It’s way better to have a hammer and nails. It will make the whole process easier. This is the same with stoicism. If you are going to live, it is way better to have a philosophy that helps you, rather than a mindset that hinders you.
This whole situation taught me many things I had forgotten.
- People mean good, just that they don’t know what the best ways are, you do.
- Your best bet is to trust yourself to do everything in your power to fix things.
- Taking action feels “not great” in the short term and “fucking great” in the long term.
- Trust the great men, almost nobody reads them (at least in my experience) so be prepared to figure your way in solitude.
There is a gift in everything my friends, it may be difficult to grasp it at first, but trust yourself and you’ll find it.
Master brewer at Querida Catalina, ultrarunner and stoic.
Stoic answers aim is to provide answers to the deepest human questions, which sadly, are almost always never asked.
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