Author: RicardoGuaderrama

Conquering Fears, Modern problems, philosophy, Reflections, Self development

Stoic Paradigms


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“Those who never change their minds, never change anything.”― Winston S. Churchill

paradigm.- a framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by a community or a person.

Knowledge and understanding are always evolving, just like everything else.

Today I want to talk about your understanding of stoicism. Stoicism helps anyone in the sense that it functions as a pair of glasses through which you can see reality more accurately.

“I was blind and now I see.”

That’s exactly how I felt the first time I read Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and I have to say that I got hooked like a drug addict. I had never thought about myself or reality in the way the stoics narrated in their different teachings.

It completely changed and replaced my paradigm, my way of thinking, from blaming outside circumstances to working on the only thing I could work really on myself. I thought that my understanding of stoicism was going to be complete after reading Seneca’s and Epictetus’s work. I was blatantly wrong. Obviously.

Stoic, beginning

Maybe you will relate to this. When I first started practicing stoicism, I felt I had to take a serious posture and attitude towards life, soldierly-like. Life was serious and I had to be “realistic” about it, no time for jokes. Hard to think about joking with concepts like:

  • Memento Mori: realize that you are going to die and live each day with that thought in your head.
  • Premeditatio Malorum: Rehearse them in your mind: exile, torture, war, shipwreck. All the terms of our human lot should be before our eyes.”— Seneca

Stoicism can feel pretty negative and terrible when you first start studying it. But, to be honest, I think most of us arrive into stoicism knowing that life is not all roses, it feels very real and it makes absolute sense. Life is not all colors, during life, we are going to suffer a lot.

So, in this sense, stoicism seems to be a kind of painful acceptance to the facts of reality, a kind of surrender to our situation.

But was that all? A serious life without jokes? Certainly not.

Understanding paradigms

Stephen Covey narrates in his book “The 7 habits of highly effective people” with tremendous accuracy how our understanding of stoicism works.

It’s impossible to know reality completely. Understanding the immense complexity of the university is simply impossible. There are many things you don’t know and there are far more other things that you don’t know you don’t know. Therefore, it’s pretty conceited to think that what you know at any given point in your life is how things really are, they are certainly not. Our paradigms are the maps we use to navigate through reality and they are almost always wrong. We can only hope to be less and less wrong with time but know this, perfection is unattainable, and that is good. In fact your maps, your paradigms can be tremendously wrong, to the point of not being able to take you where you want to go.

The same is true with your understanding of Stoicism. There are many ways, paradigms, maps with which you can understand stoicism. Funny hey?

Stoicism, moving forward.

If you keep reading and practicing stoicism, you will stumble into a new and a better understanding of it. This evolving understanding will never stop, just like the quest for perfection never will either. You can only come closer and closer to better truths.

Stoicism can be related to a disgustingly tasting spoonful of medicine. It certainly tastes horrible, but you will feel better afterward, medicine is what the sick need.

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

You see life, to be fully lived, needs to be seen through better and better glasses. Life will require you to update your views constantly.

Stoicism can feel heavy at first, too much “real, oh too real” information to deal with. But once you accept your reality and situation, you are free again, free to move in the more accurate version of reality you now possess in your hands, without wishful thinking.

Free to love as much as you can, free to laugh as much as you can and adding to all that, prepared for any future adversity you will encounter.

You will meet it with a light heart and a light mind. Look at the eagle, makes it look easy right? That’s the paradigm you want.

“He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.” ― Epictetus

Want to read some more: Liberty or death

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Modern problems, Uncategorized

Stoicism and Power


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What comes to your mind when you hear the word power?

Among the most common words, you might say money, status, and fame. But those things are not “power” itself, those are consequences of power. So what is real power then?

Power should be thought about more as a verb than a noun. Having power is having the capacity to exert power. Power is the capacity to observe reality and yourself within it and then decide on your own terms what you want to make happen and then actually do it. That is exerting your power.

Keeping this in mind, right now, you have the capability of exerting power within your own reality, you are your only constraint if you decide not to. Doing this and knowing this makes you powerful right now, literally. Power is not money, success or fame. Power is a decision made from moment to moment, it is the decision to act and not be acted upon, and exerting it will liberate you, will give you freedom.

Possibilities within people’s realities differ, obviously, some people might be capable of some things while others are not, be it circumstance, ability or the place you were born. We need to remember that this is always within a specific point in time, reality is always changing as well as you and your relationship to it. This doesn’t change, however, the nature of power, power is always personal and available at any moment, regardless of any circumstance.

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.” – Epictetus

The act of consciously choosing what is best and what is worst for you within the options that are under your control makes you powerful.

Say you want to be rich. What can you do right now that will make it so? Remember, being rich is a consequence of power, riches don’t make you powerful, you make yourself so, richness extends possibilities to further exert your power. A rich person, most likely, exerted his power in that direction and by doing so, made himself or herself rich.

Everyone’s situation is different, agreed. But that doesn’t determine the ability of a person to decide which road he is going to take in his own life. When you let the things that are not under your control decide what to do or not do in your life and at the same time, neglect the things that do are under your control. You are giving away your power to someone or something else.

Philosophy, freedom and, power

Real freedom and power can only be found through philosophy. This is because only through philosophy you can begin to comprehend at least in some part, the nature of reality, just like the true nature of power. Only through reflection can you begin to better understand life and act accordingly.

Power is indifferent, you can use power for reasons you are not even really aware of.

For example, the idea of success. Is the idea of success you have truly yours?

You can do everything in your power to fulfill an ideal that is not even yours, just to find yourself in your deathbed thinking that everything you did was not really something you wanted but something you thought was going to look great in the eyes of others and by then it is going to be too late.

That is not being free, that is being manipulated by an idea that hasn’t been tested by your reason, your simple greatest human faculty. The philosopher asks why. It is only by putting things in the scrutiny of your reason that you can find out what is truly valuable and then use your power in the way that you see fit.

Any fool can make a rule and any fool can mind it – Henry David Thoreau

This process of reflecting can never stop as we are continually evolving. But you have to know that to be truly free and powerful, you need to accompany your actions with your reason.

True power is in your hands, right now. Rule or be ruled and remember.

Freedom is the only worthy goal. Epictetus

Here is some : Fuel for excellence.

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