“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Being at the cause means that you are an active role in life, a contributor, an actor, a fighter in the ring, the spectated not the spectator. It means to take responsibility for your actions and your desires. Whereas being the effect means that you are a passive entity that is going to be tossed about like the ping pong ball. This is the fundamental difference between the person that is truly living and the passerby of life.
Everything happens at the moment, we remember the past, we predict the future, but every action happens at the level of now. In order for you to become the cause, you need to understand that to be the cause you need to act and to do and to contribute and to talk and to be the spark that makes things happen. All of these things can only happen in the present moment and the only thing that you can really control in the present moment is your behavior. Being at the cause simply means that you are going to take control of your behavior and responsibility for what you want in life. Specifically, you are going to control your behavior in a way that is in harmony with your desires, not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, but right now.
Now, let’s talk a bit about those desires and their place in Stoic philosophy.
Desires, the indifferents
The desires can be called indifferents as well. The indifferents are all those things that lie beyond the realm of your control. Such as fortunes and cars, or fame. Money is an indifferent. We can influence our behavior to have more of it but we do not have absolute control in comparison to our attitudes and behavior. Should we disregard it because we cannot control it then?
No, it’s better to have a couple of bucks in the bank than to have none obviously, it’s better to be healthy than sick But nevertheless, none of them are more important than your character. Let me give you an example.
If someone asked you to give you any amount of money for your son, would you trade him? Let’s assume not, I hope not.
The point I want to make is that of category, your son is simply not in the same category of money, he is far more valuable, it’s the same with character and virtue. But rather, if they give you the same money for an old chair, well that is different, it’s a different category.
These are the indifferents, there are preferred indifferents, such as health, and there are dispreferred indifferents, such as sickness. It’s better to have one over the other, but in the end, they don’t rule over you, they don’t affect you, in all sense, you affect them because your highest good is character and that is always within your grasp.
How being the cause works
If you value your character above anything else, you are going to become a cause in the world naturally.
To be the cause you have to own yourself.
Knowing that there is no higher value than owning yourself, nothing above it. Just like the example of the categories I just gave you, you would not trade anything for your control and your virtue.
With this knowledge in mind, it’s time to act. What is within your desires that you would prefer? What would you want to get and that you’d stop acting as immortal thinking that you have all the time of the world to do it when in reality you could die today? Go after it now.
Whether you get what you want or not is not the issue here for you to become the cause.
The game consists not in whether you fulfill your desires or not, it consists on whether you are able to become free of them and because of this ‘gained freedom’, stop being afraid already of whether you get them or not and actually get to work on what’s really important, which is your behavior and your focus on the process.
Self-control, focus on the process and the active pursuit of what you want without being attached to the outcome is winning the game of life. You can do that right now, you don’t need anything else other than what you already have.
You know why? Because you are the cause, not the effect.
a great complement to this read: Why And How To Focus On The Present Moment
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