Self development

Conquering Fears, Self development

On life navigation

1 Comment

“Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.” 
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

I think it is fair to say that we all are scared of becoming another statistic for this quote. Nothing to proof our long lives but our age.

A life of regret sounds scarier than a life filled with dangerous but rewarding experiences.

I used to be, or still am really concerned with living a vain life, a normal and boring life, filled with nothing but expectations and the constant pleasing of people. Specially because, what does living a full life even mean?

My ex-girlfriend used to ask me the question, what do you want out of life? I became mad every time she asked because to be honest, I didn’t had a precise answer, making money and marry, I guess? Please, that’s a canned answer.

I’ve come to realize that their are many things that I want out of life, just as you I’m sure, but I was to scared to actually say it out loud. I want to write a book, I want to develop my business career, have a Master’s, maybe a kid,I want to write a song. The immensity of possibility that we have is just endless.

I’ve come to realize that we are adventurers my friend, in all the heavy sense of the world.

Imagine your life as the ocean. The ocean is filled with treasures and paradisaical islands, it is filled with sharks and storms and Bermuda’s triangles as well. Navigating through the ocean is not easy, but there is hardly anything more rewarding that reaching home as Odysseus did after 10 years of being lost and facing all the challenges imaginable.

But my life is not Homer’s Odyssey you might say, but in this sense you are very wrong, because your life is just an adventure as the Odyssey, but different and unique to you and your situation. Full of trials and monsters and treasures. Presented as tax forms, business plans to be made and fail, bureaucracy, and all the obstacles you need to overcome to achieve your dreams. You are already here, and you are all in because you are going to die.

How are you living your life? Really? afraid of the monsters that might bite you if you set sail? If so, you will never get to your treasure islands, you will stay safe and boring and with nothing to prove your long life but your age.

There are many islands my friend, the fun is not so much in the treasures you’ll definitely get if you brace yourself for the adventure, but in the man/woman you’ll become by doing so, that is the true reward.

We are adventurers, we are explorers. You live a full life by responding to the calling, just start.

What do you like? What islands are you able to see from where you are? Do you see the dangers? The storms to come? Choose where you want to go and prepare to sail through the scary ocean, you might get lost, you might get bitten, but you will live and there is nothing else as good as living a full life. A unique life.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.” ― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

If you haven’t checked out Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic, I encourage you to do so, extremely good content.

Want something else from Stoic Answers? Read: Get your hands dirty.

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

Subscribe here

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.

Conquering Fears, Modern problems, Self development

Freedom Oh dear Freedom

No Comments

Freedom is good, right? Who could possibly deny that freedom is something everyone should aim to? The free world, the one simple value revolutionaries are willing to die for.

If I’d ask you, what does it mean to be free, do you have a good answer? If not, how can you possibly claim that you are a free man or woman?

Freedom is the core subject of Epictetus writings. Not strange at all, given his condition of slavery. Who would be better to talk about the subject than him, knowing it first-hand?

Our master is anyone (or anything I might add) who has the power to implement or prevent the things that we want or don’t want. Whoever wants to be free, therefore, should wish for nothing or avoid nothing that is up to other people. Failing that, one is bound to be a slave. Epictetus

The only truly free man, according to the Stoics, is the philosopher. Hard claim isn’t it? Any knowledgeable person is a slave then, you can only be free through philosophy. And why, precisely, is that? Why do only philosophers are granted the beautiful gift of freedom?

Two types of freedom.

Negative freedom is,roughly, a matter of which doors lie open to you, it is concerned exclusively with opportunities;positive freedom is a question of whether or not you can go through the doors,whether you are master of your life. Pravin Raj (original idea by Isaiah Berlin, Two concepts of Liberty)

The free person knows his choices and knows his alternatives, he has the knowledge of what freedom truly entails, therefore he is wise.

A slave-minded person will judge all the possibilities and alternatives he has and get mad because he is not free to choose anything he likes, this is negative freedom, the freedom you do not have control upon, therefore he will always be a slave to circumstance.

This reminds me of Erich Fromm:

“Modern man lives under the illusion that he knows ‘what he wants,’ while he actually wants what he is supposed to want. In order to accept this it is necessary to realize that to know what one really wants is not comparatively easy, as most people think, but one of the most difficult problems any human being has to solve. It is a task we frantically try to avoid by accepting ready-made goals as though they were our own.” 
― Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom

Isn’t this our predicament? Being free is not for the faint-hearted. A free person must develop independent thinking, he must be free entirely.

This is why courage is one of the stoic cardinal virtues, you will need courage if you are willing to be a free man.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.”
― Epictetus

Are you willing to be free? The path to freedom begins inside and ends inside, where you have control. Practice, practice, practice. Know the difference between what is under your direct control and what is not, this is the first step for living a stoic life, and the first step to achieving freedom.

Are you ready to be free?

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

Subscribe here

Become our Patreon and enjoy the patron only benefits! You can find more on our Patreon page. Thanks a lot for reading and I hope stoicism makes your life better, I’m sure it will.

Want to further your knowledge? Complement your reading with Stop the courting.

Support Stoic Answers

Help us spread stoicism around the world