Psychology

Modern problems, Psychology, Stoic advice

Attitude


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marcusaurelius“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Talk about starting a day with an attitude.

It’s important to know what attitude is and what it is not, however.

Recently I started reading the (to my surprise, quite stoic) book: The Subtle Art of not giving a Fuck by Mark Manson in which he discusses a term that can greatly aid you in correcting your thinking.

The feedback loop from hell

Remember the last time you were nervous about something? An uncomfortable chat 2700with someone? Maybe you had to address a difficult topic at your job or something similar? Ok, nobody likes to be nervous. We’d all want to be perfectly confident and secure of ourselves but the reality is that nervousness is a universal feeling that you will get from time to time as we all do. The problem here is not the feeling itself, but our wanting not to have that feeling,  which is what keeps feeding this perfectly normal feeling and converts it into a mountain of nervousness that shouldn’t be that big in the first place. This is the feedback loop from hell and it happens every time we don’t want to feel angry or sad.

The way out of this loop is to “not try” to eliminate the emotion. Trying to eliminate it will interrupt its natural cycle and will perpetuate it until you are fine with having it. This is how you stop the loop.

It’s especially difficult today when we are indoctrinated to “feel good” all the time, it’s culturally inappropriate to feel inappropriate, ironically.

You cannot decide “not to be angry”, you can only decide how you are going to respond to your anger and here is where attitude begins.

Attitude

Being ok with your emotions is not acting on your emotions. If everyone did this, many kingpeople would be punched in the face daily, trust me. Being ok with them is not to ignore them either, emotions are emotions are propositional content and you do not have to act on them, however, it is extremely useful to take them into account.

Knowing this you can focus on what you can control, which in this case is your attitude.

An attitude is a composition of manners and dispositions. 

Just like Marcus Aurelius knew, you are going to encounter many things throughout your day, some pretty and some not so pretty, you are going to feel bad and you are going to feel good. This does not change the fact that your attitude towards what happens to you should not be one inspired in the Stoic teachings.

An attitude of courage and responsibility, of compassion and magnanimity.

Your attitude is always under your control. And it will make you way cooler as well.


 

If you are interested in understanding emotion, stoically speaking, I recommend the book by Margaret Graver’s, Stoicism and emotion. How to be a stoic has excellent series as well, you can check it here.

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

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philosophy, Psychology, Self development

The present moment, willingness for action


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Staying in the present moment is hard.

It is hard because it’s complex and contradictory. You will suffer, but you will also enjoy life, and all in the present moment, always.

2700It’s easy to be in the present moment when we are enjoying ourselves, hell, you don’t even notice you are present when you are having fun, that is why time simply flies.

When we are experiencing discomfort, however, it’s easier to let our minds shelter themselves in the comfort of  “when this happens or passes, then I’ll be good/happy/safe”. In illusion, it seems to be a better place to dwell, the imaginary mind.

Dwelling in imagination, more often than not, brings more pain and more discomfort.

Living in the present moment all the time gives you the ability to work with reality as it is without wishful thinking, it will permit you also to be pragmatic and intelligent in your decisions as you will not be self-deceived by what you “wish were true” and instead with what is true in real life.

Living in the present moment may not be fun all the time but why do you want comfort all the time? Isn’t it better to “suck the marrow of life”? To live fully and with courage, to live without regret, knowing that you stood there, in rain or sun, in fortune or misfortune?

Merely “focusing in the present moment” is hard as I already said. The Buddhist philosophy has a lot to say in this manner and Stoic philosophy can be aided with some of its practices.

Buddhist advice for staying in the present moment

“Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, “Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?” You’ll be embarrassed to answer.

Then remind yourself that past and future have no power over you. Only the present—and even that can be minimized. Just mark off its limits. And if your mind tries to claim that it can’t hold out against that…well, then, heap shame upon it.” Marcus Aurelius 

The stoic advice for living in the present moment is: “just focus on the present moment”,Cy_Med “focus on the task at hand”. This is not enough in my opinion.

The mind is always thinking about something, always, that is its job.

It’s hard to focus on the present moment if you have no training at all to do so, it may be the best practice, but how can you become good at being in the present moment, no matter what?

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. Buddha

Become aware of your breath.

When you become aware of your breath, you automatically shift your attention at something that anchors you to the present moment. We are breathing all the time, every second of our existence we breathe and this is why it is so helpful to remind us of being right here, right now.

Meditation is just practicing focus. But you need something to focus on and the breath, being there all the time, is the perfect anchor for the present moment.

Each time you realize that you are not putting attention on your breath anymore, you just shift your attention back to it.

This way, you can practice staying at the present moment all the time. Training your mind to become better at “dealing with the task at hand” as Marcus proposed.

Action and courage to live.

Living in the present moment is not for the weak and the faint-hearted. It requires courage. It requires the courage to accept and deal with everything that is existing at the moment. Being bored or being exited, it doesn’t matter, we should always be with existence as a whole.

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

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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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