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Sound minded


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“Throw aside all hindrances and give up your time to attaining a sound mind” 
Seneca

A sound mind, weird asset these days isn’t it?

And what is, precisely, a sound mind? According to the urban dictionary, it is: “To be mentally calm and self-confident in your actions.”

A sound minded person has in his possession clarity. A clarity similar to the one I’m sure you’ve felt at least once when you finally realize what it is that you need to do, Aha! moment. Like the one, Newton got after being hit by the apple and finding out about gravity, pure mental clarity.

So, it seems that a sound mind is something we should strive to have all the time, doesn’t it?

Indeed, a sound mind is a peaceful mind, a mind embedded with meaning and confidence, with an iron will.

So, the question arising now is: How does one go about in obtaining a sound mind?

Consequences

A sound mind provides you with the capacity to make better decisions.

A sound mind can be obtained with understanding. Understanding the situation and the decision you have to take, so first of all, you have to think a bit before doing anything. This, stop and think a bit, is the core requirement needed to achieve a sound mind.

Now that you’ve stopped to think for a bit, you need to know how to think properly.

There are consequences for each and every action you take. There is not just a consequence but several, I’d say infinite, consequences for every action because for every decision you take, it’s first consequence will ripple into thousands and thousands of them, and this is precisely the interesting part of it.

The next time you find yourself having to make a decision, think about this: First order consequences, Second order consequences, and Third-order consequences.

Let’s put an example so you can relate to it. 

Imagine that you are in the bar with your friends and you watch your clock. You realize that it’s already 10:25 PM. It’s already kind of late and you promised to yourself that you were going to take a run through the forest the next day, you want to train for that marathon you’ve always wanted to take. You already know what’s going to happen when you tell your friends that you are calling it for the night. Oh, come on! One more drink! What’s the worst that can happen! Plus Mike (your high school friend) is here and we haven’t seen him in a while! 

You know, you bloody well know, that another drink means that you are not going to run tomorrow, but right then and there you don’t know what to do, your mind is foggy, it’s hard to be sound minded in those type of situations. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen with not running tomorrow right?

Here is were the consequences come into play. Not going for a run and having one more drink, does not have immediate fatal consequences. The first order consequence would be that you wake up tired and a little hangover and therefore, a little less in shape for the marathon, but you can always run the next day right?. But, what about the second order consequence? Maybe the next day after that you are going to be too lazy as well and as you’ve already skipped the previous day, a second day of skipping training shouldn’t hurt either. Third, fourth, fifth consequences of that first decision? You did not run the marathon.

Anything makes everything, it’s all connected.

This is how you obtain a sound mind, by stopping to think for a bit of not just the first order consequence, which is almost always corrosive, but about the second, third and fourth. Now that you have more information, now that you have an idea of what it really means to take or not a decision, you can judge which one is better. You’ve acquired a sound mind.

Now that you have a sound mind, I’m sure you have a lot of thinking to do. But it is, indeed, a lovely day to practice Stoicism, isn’t it?

Want to read some more: The Reaper.

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“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” 
― Seneca

How do you begin setting up a business? Or learning Chinese or Japanese? How the bloody hell did Elon Musk built a space company after building Paypal without knowing anything about rockets?

You just do so.

Don’t get caught up in the trap of thinking too much before actually starting to do anything you’ve been thinking about doing.

I truly don’t believe there is even 1 person who knows exactly what they are doing all the time, life is just too complex and chaotic and our brains are not big enough for the task.

Our brains are great improvisers.

What would you do if you were thrown in an Island by yourself with a knife, a backpack and a bottle of water?

Well, after freaking out about your situation and calming down, the smartest thing you could do would be to scout. You’d need to know where you are and you’d also need to know what are the resources available.

From that point forward you’d maybe looking for Wilson and planning your way out of the island to get back home.

The same is true with everything else. Finding purpose? Scout. Where do you think you might find it? I’m sure you have at least a vague idea.

“Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.” 
― Alfred Adler

Go out, read the book, google the business industry you want to get into and research. By doing this you will start carving your path towards it.

And by the way, Elon Musk answer to how he started Space X was: “I started reading as much as I could about Rocket Science”

Courage

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
― Marcus AureliusMeditations

In the end, trying something new, starting a new project and almost everything venture related resumes in an act of courage. The courage to actually do it.

It’s common to say that you don’t do this because you don’t yet have this or you don’t do that because of that but if we take it to its core, it’s just a matter of courage.

The reason we repel doing something new is because we fear failure. Not really being able to do the thing we’ve been saying we are going to do is terrifying and so it feels better to just trick (supposedly) ourselves and others by saying that we can’t do it because of something. The thing is, this way of thinking is precisely what keeps us from doing anything, because that something is a lie, an excuse.

You have to realize that failure is needed to know the difference between what works and what doesn’t.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Marcus Aurelius

It’s not entirely hard to do something, that’s what your brain is for, but the actual decision to do it or not to will determine if you ever begin to live or not.

Realize that this decision is universal in your life, not just in one area.

The hardest part, undoubtedly is the start, conquer that first, answers will appear once you do.

Begin at once to live.

Want to read some more: Courage

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

Subscribe here

Don’t forget to visit our shop, carefully curated. Shop

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