Author: RicardoGuaderrama

Stoic advice

The more you give the more you get


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But the fact is, the same thing is advantageous to me which is advantageous to you; for I am not your friend unless whatever is at issue concerning you is my concern also. Friendship produces between us a partnership in all our interests. There is no such thing as good or bad fortune for the individual; we live in common. And no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility; you must live for your neighbour, if you would live for yourself.   Seneca

Solution selling

There is a term in the business world called: Solution selling.

Solution selling basically consists of concentrating your efforts and your capacities on the problems that the enterprise is going through and solve them. It can be slow sales to give or a new and more efficient management. By doing this you are not selling yourself and your amazing smile but an actual solution to an actual problem, needless to say, this strategy is highly valuable and will land you a job or a promotion more often than not.

Why do they need you in the job in the first place?

They need you to solve their problems, they need you to be a solution, not a problem.

Let me tell you a little secret.

This strategy not only works in business, but this is also true for every social relationship you have.

And no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility; you must live for your neighbour, if you would live for yourself.  Seneca 

What really matters in the end, genuine value

If you’ve been following the blog, you are probably by now really acquainted with Memento Mori. Death sets things in perspective, her cold silence speaks to you quite loudly about what you truly found meaningful and important at the end of all things.

When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow: when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great Day when we shall all of us be Contemporaries, and make our appearance together. Joseph Addison

jfsjb7rb5an11One common trait I believe we all share when thinking about dead is a spontaneous feeling of love and yearning to share more.

And what did he leave? He asked. 

He left it all, she answered.

Independence

You cannot give anything unless you are well taken care of yourself first.

You may think you are a grown adult, but, admit it, sometimes you act like a child, I certainly act like a child sometimes. One example is when you are mad at something not going your way or a person not acting as you wish. You become mad and angry about things not going precisely as you want in life.

If your self-worth and emotional stability change every time something outside yourself affects you, you are being emotional dependant.

Your emotional well-being dependant on things outside your control? Terrible sin.

We may think that we cannot be happy unless everything is going fine, but that way of thinking is a terribly wrong approach. Every time you think the problem is outside yourself, that thought right there is the problem.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed. Epictetus

Independence is free. Independence is a choice.

He who knows that power
is inborn, that he is weak because he has looked for good out of him and
elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought,
instantly rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs,
works miracles; just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man
who stands on his head. Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Once you know this basic truth, you are prepared to go to the next big thinking shift.

Gratitude

Gratefulness is one of the most powerful values.08n4n53gnun11.jpg

Gratitude makes you feel good.

It changes your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have. When you are grateful you open yourself up to share, whereas when you are ungrateful you close up by concentrating on what you lack.

When you are just thinking in your own utility, only on what you can get, you become blind to the needs of the others and less able to help them in their lives and thus less valuable.

The hungry don’t get fed

Open your eyes. 

When you are grateful, the world opens, your view changes radically. When your needs are met, you can prepare yourself to give, it is only from this genuine place that you can truly give.

Now you become able to actually understand other people and to think not in “me” terms but in the subjective experience of the other person.

By doing this you become able to offer and share solutions to their problems and become the most valuable person to them.

Win-win

Finally, think win-win. If you provide value, you will get value back, it’s how life works. People will open up to you and you to them, the paradigm will change into sharing, and this is in your power.

Know this truth. When you help other people, you are actually helping yourself. The more you give the more you get.

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Business advice, Conquering Fears, Modern problems, Psychology, Self development, Uncategorized

Opportunity cost.


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Suddenly, you wake up in the back of a car. You don’t know why you are there and you feel a bit disoriented, the driver drives calmly. You are wearing a dark suit. If this is a kidnap, it’s certainly a really weird one. Five minutes later the car stops at a mausoleum.

The driver opens your door and you ask him where the hell are you, he just smiles at you and points inside the mausoleum. There are trees, green grass and people dressed in black talking and walking inside. Now you are curious about what this is all about. You get down the car, feel the breeze on your cheeks, a bit of cold, and the tightness of your black tie, you loosen it up a bit and start walking inside. This is definitely a funeral, you can hear a young girl weeping silently beside you. Inside, members of your family and friends surround you but nobody notices you are there, you yell and everyone seems oblivious to your screams, what the hell is happening, you hurry to get to the coffin to see whose funeral this is and as you push the people around the coffin, you realize to your dismay, that the person inside the coffin is you.

You are already dead and nobody seems to notice that you are standing there, watching your cold and motionless body. It seems, that the gods granted you the gift of watching your last appearance on earth.

GraveyardThe procession begins and you sit there, watching your family, your friends and the people who knew you.

The time for the speeches come and a member of your family goes up.

 

 

What does he say? What are his memories with you? Are they happy? Is he glad he was your kin?

Now, your best buddy.

Now a co-worker.

What do they say? How do you feel? Are you happy? Are you proud?

What did you leave behind?

Ah, the magic of Memento Mori. To put things in perspective, to sweep away what isn’t important and to give place to what really matters, what really matters in the end at least. Death is always near, always walking, sleeping, always at our side but we keep forgetting.

“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire” 
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On the Shortness of Life 

Opportunity cost

You are always choosing. Even when you think you aren’t choosing, you are choosing not to choose.

Many times, most of the time, you don’t even choose for yourself but you are letting something or someone choose for you. Ignorant, ignorant of your power, you let yourself be guided by other people’s agendas, blind to the opportunities and the possibilities presented for you. Every time you neglect a good opportunity, you incur in a cost, opportunity cost.

How?

By letting the things that are not under your control choose for you.

For example, Facebook or Instagram. Imagine you’ve arrived at your house after a long and arduous day of work, you don’t even think about having dinner, you feed the dog, put pajamas on and get straight down to bed. There are two things on your bedside table, a book you’ve been reading for a month that will make you fall asleep in 10 minutes top, and your phone. You grab your phone and open Instagram, just for a while (you say to yourself), 1 hour later you are still awake scrolling down the endless flow of pictures and memes. The next day you are tired and cranky and find yourself cursing damn Instagram as you open it again.

That right there is slavishness. The decision was made not by what is best for you but by the instant gratification you got out of your phone. That decision has a big opportunity cost as well, the opportunity cost was your proper rest, happiness and productivity for the next day. All that in the simple and non-threatening choice of scrolling down on Instagram, just for a while before sleeping.

1210979-7“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca 

When you choose to do something, you have to be aware that you are spending your most valuable asset, time. We don’t think of time as an asset and that is wrong, very very wrong.

Your life is composed of moments, millions of them. Each and every moment you have control over how you are going to respond to what you are doing, to what happens to you and your dispositions towards it.

The better the choices you make at each moment, the higher the probabilities that you will find yourself smiling at the end, at your funeral.

Making choices, the right ones.

It’s easier to make bad choices than right choices.

At the moment it’s easier to “go with the flow” and let tiredness or laziness or feeling, in general, decide whether you finish your job or not, whether you grasp opportunity, whether you open facebook or a book, whether you go out with your friends and socialize or stay watching Game of Thrones for the 5th time.

It’s easier to fall into slavish choices because they seem to be more palpable in comparison to the better choices which seem far away in the future. Nevertheless, you have to become aware of the opportunity cost at the moment, the opportunities are presented alongside the slavish choices every time, but conscious effort is needed, otherwise, you’ll become blind to them.

Your awareness of the opportunities determines how much of your life is really under your control. A true stoic is aware of the costs of his choices and so makes his decisions accordingly.

Therefore, learning to ask yourself about the opportunity cost of your decisions becomes paramountly important.

Once the decision to make informed choices is made, a universe of possibilities will open. A universe you were blind to before. Open your eyes and see.

The present moment

“But life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.” 
― Seneca

additional_f105d867a9d07dffb5271c52e342d908e7950e26-8All we have is the present moment.

There is no other place or time where you can make choices or anything else. Just right here, right now. The power to figure out the best course of action is under your full control right now. Not in the past, not in the future, but right now.

It might seem that the little choices in life don’t matter much compared with the years you are going to live. But in reality, they do, first, because you don’t know when you are going to die, it could be tomorrow or in an hour. Second, because every single choice you make determines everything in your life, it’s all connected.

The sad thing would be to be at your funeral and know that you had the power, in your hands, and you chose not to take it, letting slavishness take control and choose to be dead long before your funeral.

Don’t let that happen. Think about how much time is wasted in pettiness, all that time could be used investing in a great life and gratitude instead.

Choose the path of greatness. Choose to see opportunity, open yourself up towards possibility. There is where true control is, in your choices.

“You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.” 
― Seneca

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism. 

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Support Stoic Answers

Stoic answers is committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious stoic contemporary thinking. No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the great ancient Stoics and contemporary knowledge, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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