Month: June 2019

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

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Conquering Fears, Modern problems, philosophy

Where Are You Putting Your Attention ?


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“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” 
― Marcus Aurelius

There is nothing, absolutely nothing you can experience outside the realm of your consciousness. Everything you are capable of thinking and feeling happens inside your mind. Due to this, human experience is entirely subjective, it will inevitably vary depending on who you ask, not two humans will experience the same things.

If you cannot experience anything other than through the lenses of your mind. Logically, we can infer that every experience will be tainted by your subjectivity, that is, tainted by your persona, by your feelings, your past stories, and the opinions and prejudices that give structure to your sense of reality.

Whenever you experience discomfort about a something, it is not that something is uncomfortable in the ultimate instance, but rather, by your subjective estimate of it, your mind decides if it is comfortable or uncomfortable, of benefit or of harm.

Meaning is not found in what happens, because what happens has no meaning in itself, it’s just phenomena happening in the universe. Meaning is only formed in relationship with a person, but meaning is not attributed from phenomena to persons, meaning is attributed from persons to phenomena. It is not what happens to you, but how you see it and what actions you decide are best what determines the quality or lack of it in your experience of reality.

This is interesting.

Think about two persons losing their jobs. The first one, let’s call him Bob, is terrified. He does not know how he will manage to survive without income. Plus, he has a family and he needs to pay his little kid’s tuition next month, as well as rent and food. He hasn’t been able to save a lot because the job didn’t pay well. Bob is going out of his mind, but can you blame him, wouldn’t you be going crazy as well? Stressful situations aren’t pretty, we all know that.

The other guy, Karl, lost his job as well as Bob, but Karl has a smile in his face. He looks as if he’s just given a promotion instead of getting fired. But Karl just finished reading The Communist Manifesto (pun intended) and now that he is without a job he feels free, emancipated from the dictatorial, time-sucking job he was in. He is now thinking about all the new possibilities that have just opened in his life, later in the afternoon he is gleefully searching for the communal communities he read about in an article where he can go and live another life.

The same thing happened to bought people, but their estimate of it makes all the difference.

The video I’m going to show you next is hard as it feels like a big slap in the face, it does explain the point brilliantly though.

Consciousness and data

Let’s dig deeper.

Your experience is directly determined by the focus of your attention. Attention, your ability to direct focus and process the infinite types of information you encounter day to day. A human attribute that happens to be as well, under your control.

We are not omnipotent, you cannot know everything there is to know in the infinite of the universe. Your attention is limited, obviously, and can only process a certain amount of data at a time.

We now know how much data can be processed by the mind and the logic that follows is pretty interesting.

The amount of data a human being can process is 126 bits of information per second, or 7,560 per minute, or almost half a million per hour. Over a lifetime of seventy years, and counting sixteen hours of waking time each day, this amounts to about 185 billion bits of information.

The question that arises is: where are you locating your attention, and therefore, how many of those bits are being used appropriately?

Everything you will ever experience will be determined by the allocation of your attention. In the end, you will possess, theoretically speaking, a movie in your mind that could be downloaded, however, that movie will show the contents of where you located your attention throughout your life.

The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of your experiences, the quality of your experiences is determined by the focus of your attention, and this my friend is under your direct control.

Where are you directing your attention day to day? Are you even in control, honestly?

If you stumble into a problem, the problem is not something outside, but something inside yourself, it is real, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the thing itself that is a problem, the problem is your estimation of the situation. 

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems” 
― Epictetus

The problem, I repeat, is never outside of yourself. Outside, things just are, it is within the realm of your mind and subjectivity that a problem becomes a problem. Now, you can either let your attention slide to the usual focus on the problem and its consequences or you can direct it consciously towards a more beneficial state of mind in which you are under control. How you see it and what you will do about it. That remains under your full control. 

Reclaim your most basic, powerful and divine power, the power over your mind. It’s yours.

A great complement to this read: Choices

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

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