How To Have The Right Kind Of Friends

“We forget that, although freedom of speech constitutes an important victory in the battle against old restraints, modern man is in a position where much of what “he” thinks and says are the things that everybody else thinks and says; that he has not acquired the ability to think originally — that is, for himself — which alone gives meaning to his claim that nobody can interfere with the expression of his thoughts.”
― Erich Fromm

Express yourself, totally and uninhibitedly.

Because if you don’t, how else is the people that you meet throughout your life find out if you are the right fit for them?

Too many times, we find ourselves molding to other people. Saying the things they want to hear and acting in weird ways that we believe are going to get us liked.

That is wrong.

The first thing that is wrong about this predicament is trying to be liked so much. That is a disease that is eating your creative instinct alive. Putting it in the basement and shutting the door. Don’t put it in the basement.

Stoicism is the art of living. In order for art to be art, it needs to be unique, it needs to express something that has never been expressed before. Epictetus said that freedom is the only worthy goal in life. There cannot be art without freedom, you need to clean your canvass before you can begin to paint. You do that by achieving freedom first. When you’re always busy measuring yourself against others, scheming your behavior, overthinking what you’re going to say, and above all, dependent on the outcome of what you do, you cannot really be free to express yourself.

Think of yourself as your Chef version, and your Assistant Chef version. When you’re in you Assistant Chef version, you aren’t into anything new, you’re just copying what others are doing, successfully on the surface at least. When you’re your Chef version, you are creating, experimenting, and putting your freedom to do to work.

Assistant Chefs don’t mess up as often as Chefs, they are just following instructions. Chefs mess up fairly often. How else are you going to do anything new?

The same is true with your approach to life, something’s not quite working fr you? Change it, just as you’d put more or less salt on your stew.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.”
― Epictetus

What isn’t under your control is other people liking you or not, so first, disregard that.

No Freedom, No Fun

I want to make something clear.

When people think about a philosophical life, they think about a restrained life. It is not, in fact, it’s all the opposite.

Life is only fun when you feel free to be yourself and you have people to share your freedom with.

It’s not easy, of course, you have to go against the current of people that want to be Assistant Chefs only. There are other Chefs out there, but you need to show that you’re a Chef yourself for them to find you.

This is how you find the right kind of friends.

First, you gain your freedom by becoming a Chef. Lose already the fear of being yourself by putting yourself out there and realizing that nothing too bad happens, other than a sour face here and there.

For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend’s parlour. If this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own, he might well go home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Second, you lose yourself in the process of discovery and self-creation.

If you ask an artist why do he does art, a true artist would tell you that for art’s sake. That’s what you want to achieve, to lose yourself in the possibilities of your life, to continuously practice and enforce your freedom.

Life is not a classroom where you get good grades and bad grades. That’s what we’ve been taught to believe. Get yourself out of the mental framework. The right kind of life, the one that’s natural, the one that’s fun, is the one of discovery and curiosity.

Don’t hide this part of yourself when you’re with other people. If you do, the right kind of friends won’t know and won’t be able to hang out with you.

Thanks for reading,

Ricardo Guaderrama

Subscribe and receive the Askesis (practice) e-book for free to further develop your practice of stoicism.

1 Comment

  1. Well done Ricardo. I would add only that one must first, at least for a while, serve as the assistant chef long enough to understand how the chemistry of the sauce is built. For without a good foundation, no structure will stand on its own.

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