Stoic advice

Modern problems, Reflections, Self development, Stoic advice

Get your hands dirty


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I love this quote: Getting straight to business. 

When I’m cleaning my house I like to start with the dirtiest part. If the obstacle is the way, well, then, the biggest obstacles should be addressed first right? Like the restroom or the kitchen.

It’s so obvious.

An old fashioned bedroomIf you start with the hardest part, everything else will be easier but often the dirtiest parts are what we avoid the most. We are afraid of getting our hands dirty, but we all know that we must do it eventually.

I have a problem with positivity.

It repels the negative aspects as if they were the plague, ruining our relationship with the negative, which can be in fact, really beneficial. Let me give you an example.

A dirty house is not pretty, at all, in fact, it can go as far as to become repugnant.  We could say that a repugnant thing is totally negative, but, it also indicates what needs the most work. The more hideous a house is, the more it is yelling to be cleaned, the more it is yearning to be worked upon.

The house, obviously, is an analogy for your life.

We tend to hide from the negative, from the dirt in our lives by focusing on “being positive” instead of addressing the obvious wrecks that need to be addressed and cleansed. We tend to avoid those hard conversations that need to happen, also debt or going to the doctor for the general checkout afraid something not so good is going to appear on the tests. This is just plain dirt in our lives.

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

― Marcus Aurelius

The negative is good because it lets you know where you need to work on. I say is better to get your hands dirty and instead of being positive about life, use the negative as a compass, focus on what you can control and get to work. When I’m cleaning up a mess, I’m not smiling, I’m just working, and after I’m done I feel so much better.

I’m not claiming positivity is inherently bad. It can be amazing if you don’t use it to hide from the negative. 

What you focus on expands

True. If you focus on where you want to go, you are going to get there but you must act do not forget that to get there, you have to get your hands dirty. Make that call, clean that room. Be uncomfortable. And use positivity the right way, have a good old grin while you’re cleaning yourself up.

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Self development, Stoic advice

Stoicism and quotes


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Let’s imagine something. Let’s suppose that you are in love with The Lord of the rings b38796464b768a6d6eb6de7e8a9175d1and The Lord of the rings IV is coming up this week (hypothetically speaking). You have been waiting for an entire year for the movie to come out and finally, you are going to watch it on Thursday, amazing.

Thursday comes.

You grab your jacket, grab your keys, start the engine and head to the theater. When you arrive, you buy your favorite chocolate bar, popcorn, and a drink, god everything’s perfect for the night.

The movie begins and suddenly you feel a popcorn banging in your head, you look back and you see nothing. The movie goes for about 10 min and you feel another popcorn banging in your head. You turn back and see a bunch of kids laughing, ok, now you know what’s going on but you’ve been waiting for such a long time to see this movie that you just let it go and hope the kids will choose another target.

Bang! three popcorns and a nut, ouch! the nut actually hurt. The kids are laughing uncontrollably and you have lost a whole scene thinking about those annoying kids throwing popcorn at you.

Bang! Ok, that’s enough, you get up head to the offices and call the cinema personnel, the kids are thrown out of the theater and you watch the remainder of the movie, annoyed, you get home angry and go to sleep cursing those little rats.

Let’s continue imagining.

Now, Imagine Marcus Aurelius sitting in his desk, at the front of the Marcomannic wars MARCUS AURELIOUS HEAD.jpgin what is today modern Serbia, writing his meditations (he wrote most of them during this period), and going through his usual affairs.

Suddenly, a  general calls to the door, Marcus could tell the distress on his voice, he calls him in and notices and can almost smell the pestilence of panic in the general’s face, something is wrong, something’s really, really wrong.

The general tells him that they suffered a terrible defeat, lost thousands of men and the barbarians are crossing the Alps to invade Italy for the first time in centuries. They got ambushed. Marcus takes a big breath, grabs the book he had in his hand just a second ago and reads:

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” 
― Marcus Aurelius

There is a plague of motivational quotes everywhere. In the office, hanging on our houses or being used as marketing to sell you something on Pinterest. There are so much, that they get forgotten 10 seconds after we read them.

It’s quite easy to read one and feel motivated, feeling a short dose of good feelings and motivation. This is a wrong use of them.

The exercises recommended in stoic quotes, to give an example, are all but easy.

Take the quote above, for example. If you read it in the morning, before the chaos and the stress of work and life hits you, it’s quite nice. But the quote demands of you to act and to apply its wisdom in the harshest of situations, and that is the moment when you must remember it and actually practice it.

The kids at the theater are just one tiny example of how easy it is to lose your cool and focus on what is under your control. It is precisely in those moments when you are able and must practice stoic wisdom.

Such an innocent example as well. But don’t be naive, life is very creative when it comes to testing your will. Be prepared, always.

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

Complement this blog post with the power of responsibility. 

Subscribe here

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

 

Support Stoic Answers

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.

$5.00