Modern problems

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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

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Conquering Fears, Modern problems, Self development, Stoic advice

Curiosity


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“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

A few years ago, a professor I  really admire told me one thing I’ll better never forget. He said that the day your curiosity dies, you could consider yourself dead.

Yeah, you can actually be dead and still breath and appear to be a normal human being.

If I’d told you that I’m going to give you all the money you’d need to buy anything you want for the rest of your life, also every personal quality, like courage or equanimity, everything you thought you’d ever need, right now, would you take it?

There are two kinds of people in this world.

boatThe heroes, the explorers, the adventurers, and the dreaded and despicable, Philistines.

There is just one difference between the two of them, and that is curiosity. 

Let me tell you a little story.

When I was young, in elementary school, I wanted to build a spaceship. I couldn’t picture in my mind the impossibility of the project coming to life, I thought I just needed to make a good plan, gather knowledge, resources and get busy working on it. I mean, if somebody else has done it, why can’t I?

When I encountered my friends and invited them to my darling little project, I was found with two groups, the ones that thought it possible who said why not, and the second group who started laughing and shaming the ones that said why not.

Not caring about the annoying laughter, I gathered the good fellas and we started planning the trip to space. We divided goals and work but unfortunately, we didn’t finish it. One thing I can tell you, we had a terrific time.

Later, in high school, I got my first chemistry class. Around that time, the big questions started roaming through my teenage head and I started to feel immense wonder and curiosity about life, I remember I used to think for the first time: Why the fuck am I here? What is this? Who am I, like really?

One day, during the chemistry class, we started talking about the matter, and what it is made of. We started talking about the body and how the body is made of organs and how every organ is composed of cells, and how every cell is composed of tiny organelles like the mitochondria and the Golgi apparatus.

By that moment, I started questioning myself how far could you go?

My intelligent professor stopped at the organelles of the cell to move to another topic. I 1_am3GIZPbuUdquqevVFQqUgraised my hand and asked him what were the organelles made of, he told me that they were made of even tinier particles named DNA and RNA, amazing. I then asked him what were those things made of, he proceeded to tell me that they were made of atoms, obviously, I asked him what were those things made of and at this point, I could see the anger rising in his face, and he asked me if I was mocking him.

I answered no nervously, and he told me to shut up, literally.

I’ll never forget that moment. His insecurities interfered with my sincere curiosity, what a great man.

I’m older now, I can smell philistines from miles. They are petty and scornful, they irradiate bitterness and negativity, they are pestilent with fear, and they hide in what is “socially acceptable”, they are quite boring, but in the end, they are just scared creatures. They usually tell you why you can’t do something: There is a lot of competition, you are too old, you are too young, you know, the usual uninspiring shit. Do you know of any philistines?

“Why does man accept to live a trivial life? Because of the danger of a full horizon of experience, of course. This is the deeper motivation of philistinism, that it celebrates the triumph over possibility, over freedom. Philistinism knows its real enemy: freedom is dangerous. If you follow it too willingly it threatens to pull you into the air; if you give it up too wholly, you become a prisoner of necessity. The safest thing is to toe the mark of what is socially possible.” 
― Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

It’s easier following the norm and what is socially acceptable, it’s easier to kill yourself while still living if you get me. It’s easier to become a copy of a copy of a copy.

oyg9xsvbj9l11Understandable though, there is a reason why the philistines choose this easier road. It’s already established and easy to follow and especially, one it is one in which you will not get lost.

In comparison, the adventurer that follows his curiosity is bound to get lost or hurt and surely,  of being mocked by the Philistines and his dreaded “I told you”.

There is no safe road in life, take the road of the philistine and you’ll be dead inside in a while, take the road of the adventurer and you will get lost and hurt but at least you will live.

The books of history don’t mention any philistine.

The philistines choose to follow the comfort of a normal life. The adventurer chooses challenges and struggles, sweat and dirt.

When a person gets asked, what do you want?

It’s easy to say you want money, great sex and all the usual, what’s harder is to ask yourself what are you willing to suffer for? What challenge is so great and admirable that are you willing to take your chances? What ignites your curiosity the most?

“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, On the Shortness of Life.

Really, it’s just a simple decision. The decision to follow even the tiniest spark of curiosity you have within you.

what pain are you willing to sustain? what price are you willing to pay?

When you go out on an adventure, you don’t know what you are going to find, that is why it is an adventure. That is why you become an explorer, but you have to start, meaning is found in the act of discovery, of chasing one’s curiosities. There are going to be terrible monsters of the mind of the world and of the soul, but you will actively look to defeat them and become better for it.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 
― Theodore Roosevelt

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Complement this blog post with the power of responsibility. 

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