“Throw aside all hindrances and give up your time to attaining a sound mind”
A sound mind, weird asset these days isn’t it?
And what is, precisely, a sound mind? According to the urban dictionary, it is: “To be mentally calm and self-confident in your actions.”
A sound minded person has in his possession clarity. A clarity similar to the one I’m sure you’ve felt at least once when you finally realize what it is that you need to do, Aha! moment. Like the one, Newton got after being hit by the apple and finding out about gravity, pure mental clarity.
So, it seems that a sound mind is something we should strive to have all the time, doesn’t it?
Indeed, a sound mind is a peaceful mind, a mind embedded with meaning and confidence, with an iron will.
So, the question arising now is: How does one go about in obtaining a sound mind?
A sound mind provides you with the capacity to make better decisions.
A sound mind can be obtained with understanding. Understanding the situation and the decision you have to take, so first of all, you have to think a bit before doing anything. This, stop and think a bit, is the core requirement needed to achieve a sound mind.
Now that you’ve stopped to think for a bit, you need to know how to think properly.
There are consequences for each and every action you take. There is not just a consequence but several, I’d say infinite, consequences for every action because for every decision you take, it’s first consequence will ripple into thousands and thousands of them, and this is precisely the interesting part of it.
The next time you find yourself having to make a decision, think about this: First order consequences, Second order consequences, and Third-order consequences.
Let’s put an example so you can relate to it.
Imagine that you are in the bar with your friends and you watch your clock. You realize that it’s already 10:25 PM. It’s already kind of late and you promised to yourself that you were going to take a run through the forest the next day, you want to train for that marathon you’ve always wanted to take. You already know what’s going to happen when you tell your friends that you are calling it for the night. Oh, come on! One more drink! What’s the worst that can happen! Plus Mike (your high school friend) is here and we haven’t seen him in a while!
You know, you bloody well know, that another drink means that you are not going to run tomorrow, but right then and there you don’t know what to do, your mind is foggy, it’s hard to be sound minded in those type of situations. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen with not running tomorrow right?
Here is were the consequences come into play. Not going for a run and having one more drink, does not have immediate fatal consequences. The first order consequence would be that you wake up tired and a little hangover and therefore, a little less in shape for the marathon, but you can always run the next day right?. But, what about the second order consequence? Maybe the next day after that you are going to be too lazy as well and as you’ve already skipped the previous day, a second day of skipping training shouldn’t hurt either. Third, fourth, fifth consequences of that first decision? You did not run the marathon.
Anything makes everything, it’s all connected.
This is how you obtain a sound mind, by stopping to think for a bit of not just the first order consequence, which is almost always corrosive, but about the second, third and fourth. Now that you have more information, now that you have an idea of what it really means to take or not a decision, you can judge which one is better. You’ve acquired a sound mind.
Now that you have a sound mind, I’m sure you have a lot of thinking to do. But it is, indeed, a lovely day to practice Stoicism, isn’t it?
Want to read some more: The Reaper.
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