Month: August 2019

Conquering Fears

Independent Thinking, please


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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

How awesome would life be if you’d actually put this frame of mind into action, unbelievably amazing.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to do so, of course. In the world, you are always going to act as the majority of people are acting. Call it psychic economy, it’s just natural, you cannot think about your actions the entire time, it’s impossible, there’s too much going on.

While you think that you are the conscious mind, the active player in your life, that makes every choice, in reality, you do very, very, little. The truth is that your subconscious is doing the job of ‘living’ almost entirely.

This automatic mode is good in the sense that you don’t want to find yourself deciding about every single thing that requires some sort of decision. For example, when you are choosing what clothes to buy or when you find yourself in a music festival wondering whose the better band, ‘following along’ is good, it saves you from having to figure everything out for yourself.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. But, the important stuff, such as your values, the things you find most important in your life, those do need to be questioned, and often.

The truth is that most of the time, we don’t really question anything. We just ‘follow along’.

Let’s put an extreme example so that you can better comprehend this ‘group psychology’, ‘herd psychology’ going on in your thinking, the masses.

At least 12 people were injured after a large crowd in New York City’s Times Square fled in panic on Tuesday night, when they mistook the sound of backfiring motorcycles for gunshots. MAHITA GAJANAN  AUGUST 7, 2019

Yes, you heard right, a motorcycle backfiring got 12 people injured.

The masses work in funny ways, we’d think that us humans, rational beings, would act as best as our brains permitted us in situations such as this one, but no. Unconscious unconscious, more primitive, parts of your brain light up and kiss good bye rationality. Rational thinking thinking is to slow for this type of situations. And in a life or death situation either you act fast or you perish.

 Like Le Bon, Freud says that as part of the mass, the individual acquires a sense of infinite power which allows him to act on impulses that he would otherwise have to curb as an isolated individual. These feelings of power and security allow the individual not only to act as part of the mass, but also to feel safety in numbers. This is accompanied, however, by a loss of conscious personality and a tendency of the individual to be infected by any emotion within the mass, and to amplify the emotion, in turn, by “mutual induction”. Overall, the mass is “impulsive, changeable, and irritable. It is controlled almost exclusively by the unconscious.”Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego 

In the NYC accident case, the predominant emotion was fear. Think about other circumstances in your life were you are just acting with the power of the herd, just ‘following along’. How much of your beliefs are actually yours? Not many.

If not many of your beliefs are yours, and, surely, not many of them are of any benefit to you,

Marcus Aurelius’s quote gains profound importance. If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but your estimation of it. Aurelius point here is that you have power over your mind, and your mind determines your reality.

Nothing exists outside of your mind. You can choose what perspective you are going to give to anything that happens. You can always choose to be either a victim or a champ in your life. You have the power to create the way in which you see reality.

Knowing this and applying it to your life will give you tremendous power. New possibilities and opportunities will emerge by the pure deed of changing your perspective, it’s all in the mind.

But.

And there is a but, it’s not going to be easy. You are hard-wired to yield your thought-processes to the pre-processed thinking of the masses and society.

Why do you think Marcus wrote so much in his diary?

Because he needed to remind himself, literally daily, that there are strong forces within him that are not on his best interests.

Society does not have the best plans for you, if you look at what is ‘normal’ , you’ll see that it is living a life full of social-media, greasy unhealthy foods and cheap content to consume until you die, fat, and paradoxically, empty as well.

Happiness, courage, wisdom, temperance, and deep meaningful relationships are not selling high on the market right now. These values, values that would make your life good and worthy are not going to be attained by following the group psychology that’s popular on our era.

You are going to have to go against the current and choose to see the world through the values that you know are better and you chose for yourself.

But there are going to be parts of your brain, motivated by the cheap thinking of the masses and marketing agencies and pessimistic friends and social media and whatever is trying to pull you back into the fake, unreal world that we have gotten into somehow.

“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

You have power over your mind, reclaim it.

If you take the reins of your thinking. If you become an independent thinker, you’ll realize that non of these dark forces have power over you. You’ll be free to pursue what’s really important.

Question your beliefs, at least the important ones, continuously.

This is a decision you have to make. If you don’t make it, it will be decided for you and trust me, you’ll not like the outcome of letting your life be decided by someone else.

a great complement to this read: The Pathway to psychological freedom

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

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

I’m always open to suggestions and am happy to answer any questions. stoicanswers@gmail.com

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How To Find Your Dream And The Time To Do It


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“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for in order to refer your self-improvement to him? — Epictetus 

Do you ever feel like you are wasting your time? I think we’ve all had that annoying experience. What are you waiting for then? 

I know, sometimes it’s hard to even know where to start, right? But no worries, I’ve found a great formula to figure that out and get you started. 

First things first. Anxiety about the future, not really knowing about what is to come, about having wasted your life in a meaningless job for years, anxiety about being anxious, will simply not do, trust me. 

What will do is action, taking responsibility for your life, right here, right now. This can easily be achieved if you realize that you will never have another moment like this one, this fleeting moment is never going to come back, so there is no other moment to do anything bu this one. This fact can either make you more anxious, or it can liberate you, as the realization implies that there is no need for anxiety. Anxiety vanishes away with action. 

But how can I make it go away if I don’t even know what I want? 

Fair question. You need to know what do you want so you can start working right? 

In life, there are Cooks and there are Chefs, bought can make great food but there is a difference between them. The Chef operates by creating while the cook operates by copying. What does this mean? Imagine that you are in a kitchen and you are a Cook. In this situation, you would grab the recipe book and get to work on something previously done. Instead, if you were a Chef, you would use the ingredients in the kitchen to make magic. The tomatoes, the potatoes, the garlic, salt, pepper, etc. Through trial and error, you can make something great, something that the cooks will want to copy someday.

Now, being a Chef is not easy of course. It’s way easier to be a cook, you just have to copy the Chef. Now back to you. Where are you a Cook and where are you a Chef in your life? How much of what you’ve done and are doing with your time now based on pre-designed recipes or recipes made by you? This is an extremely important question as there is nobody in the world like yourself. You, my friend, are one and the only kind of a Chef and the world needs those new recipes. 

You can be a Cook with the way you dress, for example, it doesn’t matter that much, but with your contribution to the world? That’s different, you should definitely be the Master Chef there. 

This is a life process of course. But the time to start figuring that out is right now. As in go and grab a pen and start thinking about it. 

What’s really yours?

If you want to dig deeper into this topic I recommend you visit this post from our friends from ‘Wait But Why’, you’ll understand this Cooks and Chefs concepts even better. I’ll wait here for the next part which is time, and how to use it now that you know what you want. 

Time 

Now that you have your plan and you are ready to work, let’s talk about how you’ll actually do it. 

There is plenty of money in the world, a lot. What is terrifyingly scarce is time. Time cannot be bought back, time cannot be stored, it is, with all certainty, the scarcest resource in the world. 

“People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” 
Seneca

Quite a struggle to deal with time. There never seems to be enough of it. Between your career, your family, your friends, your downtime, it all seems to vanish without you even noticing. 

But there is good news. The good news is that time can be managed. It can be managed to your benefit. If you have never written down where your time goes, man, you’ll be amazed. I warn you it will be a huge shock to know how much of it you are actually wasting. 

Now that you are a Chef in your life and that you know all the things you want to accomplish to squeeze that sweet, sweet nectar of a life well-lived, you need to know how to find the time to do it. 

Think of time as a resource, at every moment, you are using your most valuable resource, more valuable even than gold or diamonds (this is literally true), you are investing it. Do you consider yourself an intelligent investor? 

Fair if you didn’t know where to invest it, wasting it was a given, but now that you have the tools to put your time to work, there are no excuses. 

“What’s measured improves” 
Peter Drucker

If you have a lot of time in your hands, great! It’s time to get to work. But, if you have too little. You are going to have to measure it. With this, I mean that you are literally going to have to grab a small notebook and a pen and measure your daily activities and measure how much time it goes to where. Write how you are feeling as you this as well. You will not have the same levels of energies at 5 AM after a good night rest that after work at 8 PM. 

What’s not measured cannot improve. But if you measure it, and you get to work, you’ll conquer life.

Trust me, you don’t want to find yourself at the end of your life like this:

“Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.” 
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

By doing this, by writing down your self-made Chef recipes and measuring your day, and understanding yourself, you’ll be able to start cooking. You’ll know the why, the when and how. You’ll certainly make some very bad dishes, of course, but they are going to be your dishes and you’ll get better with time so the Cooks can start copying you. 

Now, let’s get busy cooking shall we?

a great complement to this read: The Pathway to psychological freedom

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

Subscribe here

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

I’m always open to suggestions and am happy to answer any questions. stoicanswers@gmail.com