Month: November 2019

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The Give No F’s Lesson Of Stoicism


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Life often gets stressful out of nowhere. You think you have everything in order, but Ah, the lovely driver behind you texting and drinking his pumpkin latte didn’t saw you stop, and delightfully crashed his car into yours. You’re ok, don’t worry, it was just a mild crash, but mild enough to stop you in the middle of the traffic to call the insurance company, plus having to call your sister because you were going to pick your daughter up from school. 

“The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness. ”
Michel de Montaigne

Really Montaigne? Really? cheerful in this situation? I didn’t do anything other than driving normally, and this idiot crashed and now my whole night is ruined!

Nevertheless, Montaigne’s declaration remains the same, a wise man is a cheerful man…

Tight deadlines

If you’ve never worked on a job that requires you to meet tight deadlines, man, you are losing a world of stressful fun. Nothing will teach you the art of stress management as good as a tight deadline. Just like in my car-crash example, you can do your job great, absolutely perfecto, and still, you’re going to find problems and dumb people on the way. Someone will not deliver during the weekend because of his brother’s wedding, getting mad drunk or maybe you will be the one that gets drunk and your mental capacity just won’t allow you to work on a Sunday.

Something always happens, always.

Either way, you still have to deliver the job. It’s frustrating and there’s a lot of emotion going around as you are working with human beings, but hey, there is only so much that you can do, and getting angry, sad, or fearful, just makes things worse. 

You can see someone is good at this type of work when his face shows the most beautiful no-fucks expression ever and makes things happen without the slightest encumberment of unnecessary emotion. Whistling “all my single ladies” while everyone around him is crashing down on the emotional train and losing their shit. 

That’s a man of wisdom, right there. 

Why? What is going on in this beautiful, wise, mind?

Basically, two things: Responsibility and Control. 

Responsibility first. 

Many things can happen, many things will happen, trust me. But still, you are alive and you are part of all of this madness, so, as much you affect everything around you, for the good, or for the bad, you are affected by everything around you as well.

 Now, at this crossroads, you have to decide between two mindsets

The first one is the not so helpful “it’s not my fault and someone should take care of this” mindset. You could do this, no one’s stopping you, but more often than not, no one is going to do anything at all, especially if everyone takes this mindset. 

If you are facing the consequences of an action, be that action yours or someone else’s, you possess the responsibility of the action. Whereas when you choose guilt or fault you cannot do anything and you still have the problem, thinking about the past and being inside your head doing nothing, responsibility gives you power to at least do something about it and not be left defenseless and useless. 

The wise man knows this, so he will never be helpless. There is always something you can do. Be better, be braver, be more resourceful. 

Which leads me to the second thing. 

Control

There is only so much that you can do. You cannot control people, you cannot control the weather. But you can control your reactions, such as choosing to whistle “all my single ladies” and solve whatever is needed to be solved. 

Worrying and guilt come when you know that you are not doing everything in your power to solve what needs to be solved. When you do, is as if a weight is lifted from your back. 

It’s that: “I did everything I could that was in my hands, let it come what has to come” mindset, it’s liberating. 

This mindset gives way to cheerfulness, as there will never be a time when you are not in control of yourself. You know what you can control, you know the difference, and plus that, you are responsible for you are not afraid of taking action and taking care of anything that comes at you, that big “bring it on”. 

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”
Epictetus

Try to take this to your job and life in general. You will be 10 times more effective, less stressed and happier. 

Thanks, 

Ricardo

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Lessons In Defeat


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Losing sucks, doesn’t it?

Courage is not an ability one either possesses or lacks. Courage is the willingness to engage in a risk-taking behavior regardless of whether the consequences are unknown or possibly adverse. We are capable of courageous behavior provided we are willing to engage in it. Given that life offers few guarantees, all living requires risk-taking.
Alfred Adler

I’ll never forget the first time I felt true defeat. It was back in elementary school, at the end of the school day while waiting for my parents to come and pick me up. I was talking with a friend on a bench at the patio when another kid I didn’t particularly like nor fear came to say hello to my friend. 

I remembered saying some shit to him and punching him in the stomach to prove my childish superiority. The wimpy kid didn’t think twice after my first punch, and punched me right in the face. A stream of blood began coming out of my nose, I couldn’t believe what just happened. I told him he would “get it” after I cleaned myself, and went running to the restroom. 

He didn’t “got it” afterward, my father arrived and I had blood in my shirt, so he found out what happened. My father was a big fighter in his time and he was proud of it, so naturally, he wanted his son to be the same. I felt I had lost so I felt like useless crap, that day was no doubt one of my very first shitty days. It was one of my first philosophical struggles as well. 

I have to ask, did you ever had a philosophy class when in elementary school? I remember I just had ethics, and don’t remember much of it to be honest. Now that I think about it, it’s astonishing how we educate our children with biology and trigonometry first as if they were so important. Don’t misunderstand me, they totally are. But being the human beings we are and being human being practicing first and foremost, living, shouldn’t the art of living, which is philosophy, be of paramount importance in the earlier ages? 

How do you deal with defeat being a kid? My fight, as of this moment, seems dumb and childish, but back then, for me, it seemed like the end of days, or at least it felt like it. I believed that losing equaled being a coward. I also believed that winning was everything and that my father wouldn’t love me or like me if his son was a loser. Losing was bad, losing was also cowardly in my head. 

Oh Seneca, Oh Marcus, where were you back then? But then again, neither Marcus nor Seneca will ever be greater masters than experience itself. 

I remember being afraid of losing, thinking that if I’d only knew, for a fact, that I was going to win, provided that I engage on a fight, I wouldn’t be afraid. But that’s not how it works, does it? I didn’t understand that the simple act of engaging, regardless of the outcome, was what made a man brave. 

Winning or losing, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the action of saying yes to life, regardless of what life throws at you. Similar to the martial arts, if you think about martial arts as the means to kick someone’s butt, you are doing it very wrong. Martial arts don’t teach only fighting, but living as well. Marcus Aurelius said that living is more like fighting than dancing and he spoke the truth. Judo, for example, comes to my mind. In judo, you use your adversary’s punches and energies against himself. Wouldn’t you say that you do the same with life? Using hardship and defeat to craft yourself into a better sword. 

20 years have passed since that titanic fight. You definitely become wiser, the perks of aging. 

Today I tell you don’t hesitate in teaching wisdom to your sons and daughters, the world needs them more than ever. They themselves need it and will learn it by life or by you, why not give them a hand from early on? And hey, don’t hesitate from grabbing a book or two yourself, it will make your life easier and fun and amazing as well. 

I have the perfect poem to end this post. 

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