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The Reaper


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“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca

If, I’d ask you, what would you rather be, wise or stupid? poor or rich? healthy or unhealthy? Easy-going or an asshole? What would you say?

I believe it is pretty straight-forward that we all prefer a good life to a lamenting one, and yet, what keeps us from doing it? Why aren’t we all just doing it?

Ignorance is deadly, it is willful stupidity.

With time, it seems that we are the most ignorant. You cannot grab time, touch it, you cannot put it in your wallet either and I think that’s exactly how we act with it, as if it were free and abundant. It isn’t, time is your single most important resource.

I am always surprised to see some people demanding the time of others and meeting a most obliging response. Both sides have in view the reason for which the time is asked and neither regards the time itself — as if nothing there is being asked for and nothing given. They are trifling with life’s most precious commodity, being deceived because it is an intangible thing, not open to inspection and therefore reckoned very cheap — in fact, almost without any value.

Seneca

The thought of not having time can make you frantic. Memento Mori, can certainly make you feel manic. It’s like a person yelling: You fool! There is no time! You are going to die! Don’t you bloody care?! Ah! The end is near!.

I know, it feels like that. But it is not. Memento Mori is a stoic mind puzzle you have to go through and understand. When the stoics say that there is not time, they are not claiming something false or unimportant, all the opposite, they are disturbingly right.

But there is no time to be preoccupied about not having time either, there isn’t time even for that. That is the puzzle, and that is the stoic wisdom as well. How to enjoy something that’s not precisely enjoyable? ah, but that choice, remains in our control my friend, wonderfully so.

No activity can be successfully pursued by an individual who is preoccupied … since the mind when distracted absorbs nothing deeply, but rejects everything which is, so to speak, crammed into it. Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man; yet there is nothing which is harder to learn… Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.

Seneca

Things take time, it’s not so easy as to clicking in your phone and getting the rewards of life, instantaneously.

The rewards of life come with hard work, sweat and sometimes tears. And this you know I’m sure.

Anything worthwhile takes time and effort.

The world we live in

There is something wrong with our “social-digital world” and that is that we only see the rewards of life, constantly, daily. You only see the perfect engagement dinner, the trip to the beach, the smiling faces, you just see the rewards and you don’t see the entirety of life. Naturally, you start craving more and more the rewards and wonder, even subconsciously, why you are not living happily all the freaking time.

But you don’t even want this. Trust me, you don’t want the benefits without the work and it’s just terrible to think that the work and the other parts of life aren’t something to be enjoyed and lived fully.

Reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World:

“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” 
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World


Solving the puzzle

The stoic puzzle: there is no time to concern yourself for not having enough time, so live every day as if it were your last.

Hear this.

You harvest what you sow. Is that easy, and this may be one of the most important advice in life.

You don’t see what you sow immediately, it requires time. Therefore, this may get you thinking: isn’t there enough time?! I must harvest whatever there is then!

But no, because by doing this, you’ve missed the point, the pleasure of living is not in the harvest, but in the whole process. It doesn’t really matter if you’re not able to harvest what you plant, but on the process itself of not wasting your life preoccupied for the harvest, but in living it fully, joy and sadness, work and harvest, pleasure and struggle. It is in the entirety of it, and on how awoke you were to see it the entire time.

The decision remains yours, choose wisely.

“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, B

Want something else from Stoic Answers? Read: An antidote for the complaint.

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Business advice, Modern problems, Psychology

An antidote for the complaint


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There is one sport in which we all excel and must work really hard to be bad at it, that’s right, complaining. God, I’m good at it, and I’m sure you are as well.

It’s so easy to be good at it! It requires virtually nothing, it’s as if just by thinking it happens, no action or anything needed.

Gratitude, instead, is harder. If you found yourself hanging with the person you love for a day, and during the entire day, everything is amazing and lovely, but, at the end of the day, you get into a fight, you are only going to remember the fight I can assure you that.

This easiness to remember the negative is called “negativity bias”. It is a bias because it blinds you from seeing the whole picture. Gratitude gives you clarity because it helps you to notice not only the bad, which you are certainly going to notice, but also the good and with these, develop a clearer less biased picture of reality.

Epictetus used the word “Eucharistos” which means seeing to refer to gratitude. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Gratitude is a way in which you can see reality for what it is.

What can I do about this? What am I going to do about this?

Simple as that, the antidote for complaining is action. Complaining is describing reality without any proposition of action. The antidote is to catch yourself every time you sense the tiniest cue of complain and propose to yourself something that you can and are willing to do about it.

Or you can hire someone to play a small violin for you. Ha.

Ok, but no jokes around. Sometimes, we complain about things that are not so funny. Kids are born into poverty, you can get sick and a thousand calamities can befall upon you. But nevertheless, the stoic lesson remains the same. Focus on what you can control.

“Everything that happens is either endurable or not. If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining. If it’s unendurable… then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well. Just remember: you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so. In your interest, or in your nature.” – Marcus Aurelius

Practice, practice, practice.

Every time you find yourself complaining about something, use it as practice to offer a solution accompanied by action. You will get good at solving problems, because complains, rain like cats and dogs in our heads. You will make it a habit and you will make your life and everyone’s around better.

Just a simple antidote for complaining.

“Don’t be overheard complaining…Not even to yourself.”  — Marcus Aurelius, 8.9

Want something else from Stoic Answers? Read: Opportunity cost

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