Month: June 2019

Conquering Fears, Modern problems, Psychology

An Authentic Man


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Authenticity, great value, isn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be authentic? What is authenticity anyway? But most important, what does it imply?

Let’s take a look at the Merriam Webster definitions.

  • worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact
  • conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features
  • made or done the same way as an original
  • not false or imitation:REAL, ACTUAL
  • true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character

So, speaking about people, it can be defined as the capacity to be real, truthful could be its synonym.

Real as in doing, being and portraying who you really are, what you really like and what you are all about. This is hard, no doubt about it.

Why is it hard you say?

OK, it’s easy and even convenient to believe that you are authentic. You might believe you lead a life wholly created by you and for you, but ask yourself again, how much of that is actually true?

There is an impediment for authenticity.

Something we all have and that, especially in our times, is pervasive. That is the need for recognition.

The need for recognition or being validated by other people impedes your capacity of being authentic. Instagram anyone?

When your goal is to be recognized, you are acting most likely not on what you want, but on doing what other people like. You are, whether you admit it or not, being controlled by others.

Authenticity is about being you, doing you, not someone else’s.

If you shun the despicable need of recognition, inevitably, you are going to end up doing things and being things that other people might not like. But to be truly authentic, you have to be OK with being disliked by other people. A truly authentic person will say and do whatever he thinks is correct or real to himself, no concerns about what other people think.

You might say: I don’t want to be disliked by other people! Who’d want that?

Well, the things that you gain from authenticity, I would say, are immensely more rewarding than recognition and the petty need of being liked by other people.

A life of authenticity will bring you freedom and trust.

Freedom, Trust

The need for recognition is based on the punishment and reward system. If you behave well and do as you told, you are going to get rewarded, but, if you behave wrong, you are going to be punished.

It’s funny to think of it in these terms. It feels as if we are still children right? But hey, it works just the same. When you do anything in your life, be it getting a job, buying a shirt, or behaving in a certain way. Why do you do it, honestly?

If you do it because you feel that you are going to get recognition and people are going to speak good or bad of you, you are basically seeking to be rewarded or punished in any case.

This isn’t authentic, this isn’t real when you are searching for recognition and validation, you are basically a slave, a puppy to whatever society mandates you to do.

What happens when you shun your need for validation and recognition is that you discover what you really are all about. You might not like many things you’ve rationalized yourself into believing you like and that is OK, it is OK because once you do that, you will start to know what freedom is really like.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” 
Epictetus

Freedom to like what you want, freedom to go out with whom you want, freedom to follow the life you think is more pleasing. Lovely and beautiful freedom.

To be authentic is to be free. Free from prejudice and judgment. Free to follow your own estimation of what is better and after freedom, trust arrives.

There is no trust without truthfulness, that is, authenticity. The need for recognition comes with a certain degree of untruthfulness, you are not doing, being, saying what you really think is true to you, but what is true to someone else, simply, you are lying. There can be no trust with a liar.

The hard truth, I know.

An authentic man might not be liked by everyone, but rest assured that you can trust him, as he is hiding nothing.

So how does one come about authenticity?

A long time ago, there was a city called Gordium, the legend went that inside the city there was an old cart tied to a pole with the famous Gordian Knot.

The knot was tied by the peasant king and husband of the goddess Cybele, Gordius. The cart was a gift from the king to the god Zeus. It was said that the no one would be able to untie the knot but the very next ruler of the city. Whoever could untie the Gordian Knot, would become the ruler of the city. Alexander The Great passed through the mighty city during his conquests in Asia Minor with his army, he heard the legend of the knot and naturally went to the place where the ancient cart with the knot still lied.

He arrived at the place and got close enough to see the knot. Everyone was attentive on what the conqueror was going to do next.

Alexander took his sword out and with one fierce blow cut the impossible knot through the half. He turned to the crowd and his army and said:

“Destiny is not something brought about by legend, but by clearing away with one’s own sword.”

Living an authentic life is just the same. Cut the knot of the need of recognition. One blow.

Get your sword out, and liberate yourself from, cut the need to be liked by everyone. This is how you become a truly authentic person, by cutting yourself loose.

There is a precursor to authenticity, and that is courage. There cannot be authenticity without having courage first. The courage to be OK with not being everything for everyone, the courage to be disliked.

Cut loose, be free, be authentic.

A great complement to this read: Separation of tasks

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Conquering Fears, Modern problems, philosophy

A Stoic Dad


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Is there anything more serious than the job of a parent? The job of raising and educating something as complex as a human being? Gargantuan job indeed, thanks dad.

Being old enough to have kids now, I’ve obviously wondered a lot about what does it really mean to have a kid, what does it imply? And if I happen to have one, what’s the best way to do so?

It is hard to look a child and think in anything beyond his innocent good-nature when he is little. It’s hard to think in the child as the future participating man or woman he or she is going to become in society.

It is wise to ponder on the fact that your children will grow to become persons who will experience success and failure, happiness and sadness, gains and loss, life and death, just like the rest of us.

Your kid will arrive to a complex reality comparable in complexity only to himself. Just as yourself, he or she will have to stand and learn on his own. He will also have to figure out how to live a successful and happy life with all the hardships and wonders as well that accompany the experience of being a human being.

There are seldom harder bonds between human relationships than that of a father and a son. This bond is as strong as adamant steel and the relationship will greatly define the character and the inclinations the child will have as a person, being a parent is without a doubt one of the most important jobs on the world.

It is only natural to want the best possible life for your child and with this new desire, founded on fatherly love, the profound and ancient question of: what is the best life any ways? How can I give the best life to my child? Arises.

Wisdom

The single greatest gift you can give your child is the gift of wisdom. Wisdom is the hardest and also the most valuable treasure you come by in life.

“Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.” Epictetus

Wisdom unlike riches, will never leave you, it will keep providing you with a life of invaluable meaning and virtue. The central question of Stoic philosophy is precisely this one: How to live good life?

Your job will be as unique as your child and so your education will have to be just so.

But there is no need to worry as there are few things as rewarding as seeing your child grow I’m sure. All the advice posted on Stoic Answers serves for the purpose of education and refelction so don’t hesitate on searching for answers whenever you need them.

Specific to the father-son relationship. Let’s talk about control.

Control

It’s easy to forget that a child is not just your little boy or girl but a person as well, embedded with his own free will, character and desires. Although completely dependent on the first years of his life, he will develop himself, with your aid, to become an independent person.

It’s only natural to want the absolute best for your child and it can be frustrating not being able to make him understand and act as well as you wish and more importantly, know it is best based on your experience and your hard earned wisdom.

It can even come to a point where you start imposing your will over his decisions and not letting him or her decide for himself, on the stance that “you know what is best”, but it is more complicated than that.

There are obviously situations that mandate your intervention like stopping a child from crossing the street with cars and other dangerous situations. But the point I’m trying to make is, if your were to ask yourself: What is the best way for this kid to learn this lesson? This is active parenting as their is reflection that has to be made. And that my friend, is the hard part of transmitting your wisdom. So how does one goes about that?

Just as in every aspect in life, there are things that are under your control and there are things that are not under our control.

With children it’s just the same.

Imposition of values may work on the short term, but for the long term, if a kid doesn’t understand why something is valuable, he will not see the use of it and discard it or worse,he will actually rebel against the intrusions on his independence. The child can develop strong dependency as well of course. Either end, would be harmful for the child as he would have to learn on his own, and life hits hard when you don’t know the punch is coming.

Let him know about the punches! And let him know how to deal best with them. But most of all, let him fight on his own as there is no better lesson.

Thanks for being a Dad! Who knows, maybe you are raising the next Marcus Aurelius.

Complement this article with Maria Popova’s: Marcus Aurelius on What His Father Taught Him About Humility, Honor, Kindness, and Integrity

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism.

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Don’t forget to visit our shop, carefully curated. Shop

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.