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.
Subscribe and receive the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism.
Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.
I’m always open to suggestions and am happy to answer any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org