Month: October 2019


How To Enjoy Life, Right Now


In the grand scheme of things, life is similar to the lighting and fading of the tail of the firefly. We talk and talk about “living life fully” and yet we are always on the go, always working, preparing food, eating food, going out, getting drunk, being hangover, and then repeat it all over again. Not that there is anything wrong with any type of life. This could be your life , and you could be loving it, if that’s your case, awesome. But if not, why not? Most of the time, it’s just escapism. 

Do you enjoy life? How often do you have “fun”? 

 But what is “fun” anyway? How can you have more enjoyment? Right now? 

“There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent.”
Michel de Montaigne

Fun and enjoyment work like a muscle, you can exercise them, you can get better at them and have them doing anything, but the exercise is not like the one you are used to practicing in the gym. One simple way of realizing it and getting the idea of what the exercise is all about is to get up, put some music, and get to the dance.

A couple of months ago, I discovered dancing in my room alone. I don’t remember why I put a song and just tried to dance it. Maybe I was bored, but I’m so happy I did because I discovered a whole new world. The first time I did it, to be honest, I felt stupid. I danced as if people were watching me or as if I had to act as if people were watching me. I felt stiff, even alone, I felt as if I needed to dance in a “cool way”. The more I danced and forcefully tried to enjoy my song, the more I realized I had to let myself go, let my self enjoy as if I had to drop something to be able to do so.

Dancing is more about letting go than having “good moves”.

All of this happened in my room! Alone! It made me realize just how much I cared about appearing “cool”. I had to drop that, that was getting in my way, I was getting in my way. That’s the exercise dancing gives you. It shows you how to enjoy music and life in general by letting yourself go, by dropping what’s getting in your way. You cannot enjoy anything when you are thinking about how you look, you have to let go and engage with the flow of the music.

Dancing and Stoicism

Dancing and Stoicism are scientifically proved to reduce depression and anxiety. At the same time, they increase life satisfaction and well-being. Why might that be?

Because bought liberate you. Bought teaches you how to be free. Kind of like dropping a bag of rocks from your back. 

“Freedom is the only worthy goal” — Epictetus

The main precept of Stoicism is to teach yourself how to focus solely on that which is under your control, which is yourself and your responses. 

There is a common misconception among beginner stoics, they confuse control for influence. I can, for example, influence what I am going to have for breakfast, but I can’t control that I’m going to eat it or get everything I need from the store. My roomie may be hungover and eat it before I wake up. I can only control my actions toward my goals. 

When I’m dancing, I cannot control if other people will like my smooth moves. But, then, you shouldn’t care about that, because in doing so, you are choosing (voluntarily) to put those petty concerns above yourself having fun. 

Stoic freedom is more about learning how to let go. 

“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

How to put this into practice

The way to practice this is to strengthen your release muscles, your “letting go” muscles. The easiest way to do it right now is by dancing. Give it a try, can you enjoy it? If not, why not? Do you feel dumb? Stifled? GOOD! Because that is where you need to practice. Don’t try to control it. Control the fact that you can learn to let go that which doesn’t serve you. 

Don’t try to think your way out of it. Letting go works in the body and the mind in conjunction. Feel it in your stomach, arms, legs, feel it in your whole body, learn to release those stressed muscles and the mind will follow. That’s letting go. That’s the path to freedom and focusing on what you can actually control, which is your response. 

It’s the same for everything else, dancing just highlights it. 

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

― Bruce Lee

Having fun yet? 

One last thing, I’m curious. Which other areas of your life have you experimented with something similar to this? Do you have better techniques? Don’t forget to comment below. 

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Don’t Try To Be, Be.

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There is a right way and there is a wrong way to act in the world. Bought with respective consequences. 

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” — Marcus Aurelius

Wrong-way: Appearing and trying.

Correct way: Being and doing from being. 

The difference between these two is the mind frame (mindset), the place where you are coming from. When you are simply trying, you haven’t made a decision yet. You don’t believe you can be whatever you are trying to be or do. The actions you take are coming from a place of insecurity, of permission-seeking attitudes, outcome dependent, and not self-reliant. 

You come from a place where belief is lacking so you conform yourself with at least “appearing good”, again, not depending on yourself making it happen but on the outcomes and the approval. Your concern is in the wrong place. 

When you decide something, you stop “figuring out” how to do it, you just do it. Don’t try to be, be. Don’t appear, be. Focus on your mind-frame, focus on the only thing you can control, yourself.

The Mind-frame

During my university years, my favorite class was geopolitics. The class was as interesting as it was hard. It was the first time a professor asked us to think for ourselves instead of answering directly from the textbook. I loved the class and I still hang with my professor from time to time.

One day in class, I hit a wall hard in my learning journey. The professor asked something and I rose my hand as quickly as I could to answer. At the time, I was deeply concerned about being smart but still was too young and dumb to know better, so naturally, I confused appearing-smart from actually being-smart. 

With my hand up high, I began thinking that I hadn’t really put any attention on the question. In my youthful snobbishness, I thought I could pull it of. 

I could not. 

I answered dumbly with what seemed to me to be a smart answer. Everyone sighed as in “yeah, yeah we all know you are smart” way and I fell silent feeling stupid. But that is what happens when your interests are in appearances and your ego-enhancing and not in the world itself. You become dumb, you focus on the wrong things. While trying to sound smart, I was actually making me dumber. 

You can only be smart if you are willing to look stupid and stop caring about it. You can only be willing to be stupid when you rely on yourself and not on other people’s approval. That’s the path to freedom and real action in the world. 

It’s only a mighty big man that doesn’t care whether the people whom he meets believe that his big; but the smaller the fellow is, the bigger he wants to appear. George Horace Lorimer

Fixed vs Growth

It is the belief of a small mind to believe that his identity is fixed and not evolving and anything but static as everything else in existence. 

Carol S. Dweck debates this in his eye-opening book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The difference between the fixed and the growth mindset. 

The idea is fairly simple. If you have a fixed mindset, you will believe that you are either born being smart or you are born being dumb. Inside this mindset, there is no becoming better, so you focus your attention on trying to appear better. As you know by now, this is the dumb man’s game. 

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”

You may look stupid asking. But trust me, in the end. You’re going to be smarter. 

In comparison, a person that has shifted to growth understands that the mind is constantly morphing itself depending on what it is asked to do. He knows that he might not be as smart today, but if he constantly works and focuses on the right things, he will inevitably be smarter tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. 

So why concern about appearing smart when you can actually make yourself smarter? Smart happens at the moment, on the level of being. 

How to apply this yourself.

The shift from fixed to growth begins when you stop relying on others for approval and recognition and you start relying on yourself. When you live for others, you can’t even really know what you would like to know or be. 

Stop searching for recognition and approval and you’ll find out what your genuine interests are.

When you’re on the constant lookout for recognition and approval, you are like a little kid that acts on the “good boy, bad boy” basis. If people approve of you, you feel good and keep doing whatever it is you are doing “good”. When you are “bad”, you do the same thing, only backward. 

Like in my class, my search for approval and recognition was impeding me from growing and knowing more. 

Stop searching for empty treasures. The real treasure lies within you. Stop trying to hear yourself outside yourself. 

person standing in front of body of water


Today, I want you to voluntarily be dumb. Ask every dumb question. Ask, ask and keep asking. Think about the things that you know you could do better but you are too ego-invested to investigate or ask other people. 

Do this until you don’t care if you look dumb or smart. Do this until your only care in the world is your growth. Remember, your growth is the growth of other people as well. 

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.