Stoic advise

Stoic advise

Emotion Control

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We humans love power and feeling powerful, we admire stories of courage of people cliffwho face victoriously his enemies and challenges with the might of Hercules. We would like to feel, if we could, as the mighty cliff that faces the ferocious ocean without moving, without giving in just one bit. This is possible, we have that power within us. We have to understand though, what is that power and how to use it.

Stoicism is often depicted as a philosophy whose sole aim, is the suppression of emotion, popularly believed. It portrays a stoic as a piece of wood or iron, fearless but also emotionless.  This does not hold true for Stoicism. Stoics are, at the end of the day, human beings charged with love, fear and shyness too. Humans all to humans.

The aim of Stoicism is not to suppress emotion, is to live life as best as it can be lived.


“an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.”

There is no way in which we cannot feel emotion, emotion just arises.

If you happen to be at the subway in the middle of the night and someone pulls out a gun, you will be afraid, you cannot control not being afraid. The same thing happens with every situation in life. When you have an important meeting, you will feel anxious, asking a girl out? you will feel anxious as well.

What the Stoics argued regarding emotions is that you don’t have to suppress them, quite the contrary, you should act in ways that give you the would ones and avoid the negative ones.  You don’t have to feel guilty about feeling afraid or angry. The rise of emotion is something, just as thought, that isn’t under our direct control, and so this too becomes part of the indifferents.

Indifferents, all the things that are not under our direct control. We have to be carefully aware of what it is and what is not that is under our direct control. Emotions play a tricky part, because we are the ones feeling it, and we feel rulers of our emotions because we ourselves are literally feeling them, but in reality you cannot control the next thought or the next emotion that arises.

tumblr_inline_os6onoarwr1uk9lm5_500Emotion control

A practicing Stoic, however, has the capacity of applied reason. Volition, the capacity to exert our will. It is in the power to exert our own will where we can become like the unmoving rock in the middle of the waves. Emotion may rise, but it is subjected to our reason and cardinal virtues (wisdom, temperance, courage and justice).

Stoically, we have the capacity to disregard passions as indifferents, but still feel the whole sphere of emotion without restrictions, it is in that power, where we have emotion control.

Make sure that the ruling and sovereign part of your soul remains unaffected by every movement, smooth or violent, in your flesh, and that it does not combine with them, but circumscribes itself, and restricts these experiences to the bodily parts. Whenever they communicate themselves to the mind by virtue of that other sympathy, as is bound to occur in a unified organism, you should not attempt to resist the sensation, which is a natural one, but you must not allow the ruling centre to add its own further judgement that the experience is good or bad. (Meditations, 5.26)

You can feel fear, but act with courage anyways.

You can feel shame, but stand proudly anyways.

You can feel anger, but act with justice anyway.

Stoicism and action go hand in hand. A Stoic does not wait, he acts in spite of. The greater the challenges, the greater for the Stoic mind becuase it can practice its power to overcome it.

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their Michael_Zeno_Diemer_-_Ship_at_Seareputation from storms and tempests. ”
― Epictetus

The difference between a fool man and a wise man lies in the power to put everything that happens to him to the test of his reason and act accordingly.


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220px-Nietzsche187aWhat is it about freedom that is so appealing to us human beings? Why does Nietzsche spoke so proudly of “us, the free man”?

He said that god is dead, that we killed him, and if he is dead someone asks, who is making the rules? Nietzsche says: Nobody! and if nobody is making the rules, then anybody can make them.

The power to make, create your own rules, the ultimate power, lies in your hands. However:


There are a few men whom slavery holds fast, but there are many more who hold fast to slavery.


We are scared of freedom, we care too much.

We care about how we look, we care about what other people think about us and in doing so we hold fast to slavery as Seneca says.

To make your own rules is to choose what you yourself like and don’t like and be open about it, this is living virtuously and from truth. Your truth.

A free man has a great responsibility, most people scorn freedom. It is a heavy burden, to be free.

A free man must choose on his own accord what is best for him, but how the hell can he know what is best for him?

We can certainly look around and get an idea of what is best. We can learn from the great ones and take what we feel goes with us and simply not put attention to what does not resonates with us. But, the ultimate choice to be anything is ours.

What is deep inside us? what are we? What is it in us that wants to be free?Canada, into the Abyss.jpg

Maybe, precisely this is what Nietzsche was referring to when he said that if you stare long enough at the abyss, the abyss will stare back. Scary to know yourself so deeply and without filters, but it is in that innermost space where ultimate freedom  is. That thing in which we must put our hopes in, is the self (that thing that stares back from the abyss).

Not choosing voluntarily to be free has its consequences.

“Escape from Freedom attempts to show, modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.”

Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom

Sounds eerily familiar doesn’t it?

When we don’t choose to make our own choices, they are going to be made by someone else.

Making choices is hard, it requires courage and a leap of faith must be made.

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”

Jim Morrison

Go lock yourself in your room, meditate, think about your life.

If you are quiet long enough what will happen is that you are going to begin to see all the chatter of your mind, most of it is not even yours, repeating the same old stuff.

audience-vieew.jpgIt’s not even original, it’s boring, everyone is thinking about the same things: work, my likes on facebook, money, looks, men, women.

It has become blatantly boring We need differences and variety. We need more clash of ideas, from this class comes the creation of new and better ideas. Authenticity will not be welcomed nicely, you can be sure about that, but you have to train yourself in your truth and in your willingness to be free, if freedom is what you want.  

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
― Ralph Waldo EmersonSelf Reliance

Of course, as previously said, this requires courage , face your fears of rejection, claim your freedom.

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”

Jim Morrison

“Freedom lies in being bold.”

Robert Frost

To finish this quick review on quotes on freedom, I’d like to remember Frederick Douglass.

I believe there are very few men who have as him tasted the sweet flavor of freedom more joyously.

Frederick Douglass, as you might already know, was an american slave and later frederick.jpgprominent writer during the 1800’s. He eventually gained his freedom, not without an  unimaginable terrible toil of years of wretched slavery and shameful experience . There is a particularly strong passage in his book Narrative that goes:

I therefore resolved that 1835 should not pass
without witnessing an attempt, on my part, to secure my liberty.
But I was not willing to cherish this determination alone. My
fellow-slaves were dear to me. I was anxious to have them
participate with me in this, my life-giving determination. I
therefore, though with great prudence, commenced early to
ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their condition,
and to imbue their minds with thoughts of freedom. I bent
myself to devising ways and means for our escape, and
meanwhile strove, on all fitting occasions, to impress them with
the gross fraud and inhumanity of slavery. I went first to Henry,
next to John, then to the others. I found, in them all, warm
hearts and noble spirits. They were ready to hear, and ready to
act when a feasible plan should be proposed. This was what I
wanted. I talked to them of our want of manhood, if we
submitted to our enslavement without at least one noble effort
to be free. We met often, and consulted frequently, and told our
hopes and fears, recounted the difficulties, real and imagined,
which we should be called on to meet. At times we were almost
disposed to give up, and try to content ourselves with our
wretched lot; at others, we were firm and unbending in our
determination to go. Whenever we suggested any plan, there
was shrinking—the odds were fearful. Our path was beset with
the greatest obstacles; and if we succeeded in gaining the end of
it, our right to be free was yet questionable—we were yet liable
to be returned to bondage. We could see no spot, this side of the
ocean, where we could be free. We knew nothing about Canada.

Our knowledge of the north did not extend farther than New
York; and to go there, and be forever harassed with the frightful
liability of being returned to slavery—with the certainty of
being treated tenfold worse than before—the thought was truly
a horrible one, and one which it was not easy to overcome. The
case sometimes stood thus: At every gate through which we
were to pass, we saw a watchman—at every ferry a guard—on
every bridge a sentinel—and in every wood a patrol. We were
hemmed in upon every side. Here were the difficulties, real or
imagined—the good to be sought, and the evil to be shunned.
On the one hand, there stood slavery, a stern reality, glaring
frightfully upon us,—its robes already crimsoned with the blood
of millions, and even now feasting itself greedily upon our own
flesh. On the other hand, away back in the dim distance, under
the flickering light of the north star, behind some craggy hill or
snow-covered mountain, stood a doubtful freedom—half
frozen—beckoning us to come and share its hospitality. This in
itself was sometimes enough to stagger us; but when we
permitted ourselves to survey the road, we were frequently
appalled. Upon either side we saw grim death, assuming the
most horrid shapes. Now it was starvation, causing us to eat our
own flesh;—now we were contending with the waves, and were
drowned;—now we were overtaken, and torn to pieces by the
fangs of the terrible bloodhound. We were stung by scorpions,
chased by wild beasts, bitten by snakes, and finally, after having
nearly reached the desired spot,—after swimming rivers,
encountering wild beasts, sleeping in the woods, suffering
hunger and nakedness,—we were overtaken by our pursuers,
and, in our resistance, we were shot dead upon the spot! I say,
this picture sometimes appalled us, and made us

“rather bear those ills we had,
Than fly to others, that we knew not of.”

Frederick Douglass

I can’t imagine a harsher situation than that of this great man. Today, we feel that we are slaves to our 9-5 job or our situation but it’s quite helpful to know just how much power there is in a human being. Frederick eventually gained his freedom and lived to tell us about it.

Like him, claim yours. Everyone has a struggle but is precisely in the overcoming of our struggles where freedom lies.

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

― Winston S. Churchill

What is courage? When you think about this fundamental stoic value what appears on your mind? Is it an attitude? Is it a tool? Is it maybe a disposition of the mind?

First, let’s get a feeling of what courage is .

Rosa Louise McCauley better known as Rosa Parks, became a key part of the civil rosa parks.jpgmovement in the US because she was brave enough to sit in the white people section, she denied the unglamorous insults given to her telling her to move back to the black section. She ended in jail, but this small action gained her the nickname of “The first lady of the civil rights movement”. A great act of courage that suites just perfectly to what  Henry David Thoreau in Civil disobedience said: “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man (woman) is also a prison.”

The great Scipio, Publius Cornelius Scipio. A young roman consul that at the young age of paul ruebens.jpg26 commanded two roman legions and against all odds conquered Cartago Nova (now the city of Cartagena) a mighty and fortified city at the time.  What’s more impressive still is that he took control of the city with the two famous cursed legions. Legions that fled from the battle of Cannae and in doing so lost their honor. Scipio took them and gave them the opportunity to regain their honor by fighting and so they did by conquering Cartago Nova.

Later in Africa, he defeated the mighty Hannibal and gained the nickname “Africanus”. At such a young age he had the burden of defending the great Roman Empire against one of the most cunning and undefeatable roman enemies.

The two examples just mentioned exemplified the most admirable types of courage. A type of courage that sacrifices itself for the benefit of the group but there is also bravery in the dark side as well.

The movie Scarface, famously depicts Tony Montana as a bloody killer, you can definitely say he had another kind of courage, commonly called balls of steel.

Jack Donovan argues in his book The way of men  that courage or bravery is kinetic, it requires movement, it is a sort of force. You can certainly be very powerful physically, but if you don’t have the will to face something, you are not brave.

From the examples just mentioned, we can infer that courage need some sort of risk or danger to exist. The might of and act of courage is directly correlated with the level of danger or risk one must encounter.

Rosa faced jail, Publius faced the defeat of the Roman Empire and Tony is facing literally torture or death.

I believe we all know that state of mind, during those moments the mind goes quiet, the vintage-boxing (1)idea of not achieving something cease to matter, we are just ready and in “go”mode.

When I was younger and I got into fights, I got scared.

I remember rationalizing my fear saying to myself or my father when he asked, that I wasn’t afraid of the fight itself. I thought that if I just could assure myself victory, I would be fearless.

But that exactly there is the problem. The fact that you can lose is what gives you the opportunity to act with courage. If everything were assured, courage would not be needed.

Just as with this example, so is everything in life. We can prepare ourselves, sure, but at the end of the day, courage is making the decision to do anything in spite of the consequences.

The feeling of courage is majestic, it’s mighty.

The stoics know very well what this means, the power to be courageous is a decision that springs always from within. Courage is also one of the cardinal virtues of stoicism, it’s just a fundamental virtue to live.

I believe now we have a better understanding of what courage is don’t you think? But, what about the dark side of courage? What differentiates them?

Jack Donovan  argues that there are two types of courage. The first type is higher courage, this is the type of courage that will sacrifice himself for the group, you can say it is the most noble.

The second type is lower courage. This is the type of courage that is more personal and used in everyday life. This is the courage that will give us the push to assert our interests.

albert-camus-biblioteca_tonaEveryone wants to be good, but being good all the time will not take you very far in life as it is perfectly natural to have personal interests and ambitions. This is the type of courage that Tony Montana used to get what he wanted.

I know, that is a pathological level, but as with everything in life, there needs to be a balance between the higher and the lower.

Another way to understand courage is with the word “game”.

Sam Sheridan wrote in his book A fighter’s heart the concept of gameness which is: “the eagerness to get into the fight, the berserker rage, and then the absolute commitment to the fight in the face of pain, of disfigurement, until death.”

In dogfighting the dogs start to fight and when one of them seems to starts losing, they take them back outside the “scratch lines” if a dog returns voluntarily to the fight, that dogs is said to have game.

Having game or courage is a personal decision.

Marcus Aurelius obviously had game, I mean, he had to wage war against the barbarians MARCUS AURELIOUS HEADmost of his life, but he also had that higher courage that protected the whole Roman Empire.

Just imagine what Marcus Aurelius went through, this is why he is one of the mayor authorities in stoicism, he had to practice stoicism, literally everyday and in battle.

Courage, a magnificent virtue that is available to all but attained by the few.

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We are blind

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There is a chapter in Seneca’s book Letters to Lucilius in which he speaks about blindness and its cure. 

Seneca tells the story about what he called one of his wife’s female clowns. Harpaste (the name of the clown) was  funny  because she was blind, but she also was sure that she could see, and so she kept asking her attendant to change her rooms to another one because that one was to dark, funny story. But what is really funny is that most of us are blind to our faults and vices and that is why it is so hard to get ahold of virtue, the sole good.

For what else are you
busied with except improving yourself every day,tumblr_inline_os6onoarwr1uk9lm5_500
laying aside some error, and coming to understand
that the faults which you attribute to circumstances
are in yourself? 


This should be our sole aim, no doubt.

If we only knew in our heart that the most intense power is already within us, why do we go then living lives of vice? Because we do not know we are sick, we don’t see our faults.


In the cave allegory of Plato (image above), everyone is chained inside a cave, there is a fire inside the cave, and the only things visible inside the cave are the shadows that form from the fire. A man sets himself free breaking his chains and goes outside the cave, he is amazed to see what the world is really like, so then he comes back and tells everyone about the true world, but he is deemed as a mad man by the people that has only seen the shadows their whole lives. The same thing happens with virtue and vice, vice is easy, we fall into it and we don’t even know it. Virtue is difficult, we have to exert ourselves to get a grip on it and accept that we are not perfect and never will be, which is a hard thing to accept, but nevertheless virtue is also seeing the world in the most beneficial way possible, we are no longer waiting to live, with virtue we begin to really live.

The people inside the cave blame their circumstances to everything but themselves, how 225px-Magritte_TheSonOfMancould they do otherwise? They are blind. How can they even know there is anything they can actually do something about?

It’s easier to blame than to take responsibility. And by doing this we remain blind to our powers. Seneca further says.

I am not extravagant, but mere living
in the city demands a great outlay. It is not my
fault that I have a choleric disposition, or that I have not settled down to any definite scheme of
life; it is due to my youth.” Why do we deceive
ourselves ? The evil that afflicts us is not external,
it is within us, situated in our very vitals ; for that reason we attain soundness with all the more difficulty, because we do not know that we are diseased. 


We can blame our families, money, people, our life situation and basically everything, but we have to understand that the fault is never outside but on our estimation of it. Once you become aware of this, you can actually start doing something about it.

This  reminded me of the shadow and projection concepts form Carl Jung.

It’s relatively hard to know why or when we are being mischievous for most of the time2b251e6a2578ab43f87a2ff5b86e4496--gustav-jung-carl-jung.jpg we are blind to them, but a good exercise to practice is what Jung called the projection of the shadow. A quick overview, the shadow is a part of ourselves that has been repressed in our subconscious because we believe it is socially unacceptable and so we hid it inside, but nevertheless it still acts from the dark places of our mind. The idea of a shadow projection is that we put the blame of something we don’t like in ourselves unto something or someone else. An example  is every time you get frustrated by the behavior of someone, if it makes you react with disgust or anger, you yourself are guilty of the very same thing that makes you mad. This is hard to comprehend and difficult to accept, but very true. This is why Marcus Aurelius said:

The best revenge is to be unlike the one who performed the injustice. – Marcus Aurelius

Just as Seneca knew so long ago what needs to be worked is not in the thing or the person, but in us. This is the paramount self enlightening psychology of stoicism, everytime something or someone makes us mad or angry, we have to fix that disposition on ourselves. Projections can be used for us to become a little less blind, they show us what we have to work in ourselves.

You must not deny the shadow however, you have to incorporate it. If you get angry easily you have to pay attention to that part of yourself and analyze it, and incorporate it into your self, that way you get the power and force of being angry which is quite useful, but you are no longer blinded by it, you control it and use it to your benefit.

If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against… Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.

Carl Jung 

Stoicism shows us to deal with everything correctly, from the inside out, it is our dispositions that we can control, not what is outside and if we need to take heed in turning our vices into virtues as Nietzsche famously said:

Once you had passions and called them evil. But now you have only  your virtues: they grew out of your passions.You set your highest goal in the heart of those passions: then they became your virtues and joys. And though you were of the race of the hot-tempered, or of the lustful, or of the fanatical, or the vengeful; in the end, all your passions became virtues, and all your devils, angels. Once you had wild dogs in your cellar: but they changed at last into birds and charming singers. Out of your poisons you brewed soothing ointments for yourself; you milked your cow of sorrow – now you drink the sweet milk of her udder. And nothing evil grows out of you any longer, unless it be the evil that grows out of the conflict of your virtues.

Friedrich Nietzsche

So there it is, the task for freedom, the task that will give us our sight back so that we know ourselves for the first time and become the  giants that we really are.

No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”Amor-Fati-1024x680
― C.G. Jung

To end the article I’ll leave you with a quote from Seneca and I sincerley hope that you’ll find the strenght to turn your vices into virtues and live freely.

We should
therefore proceed to the task of freeing ourselves from faults with all the more courage because, when
once committed to us, the good is an everlasting
possession ; virtue is not unlearned. 


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Character, our inner citadel.

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What is character?

Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men tumblr_inline_os6onoarwr1uk9lm5_500and weak men create hard times. 

Character, as defined by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a reserved force that acts by presence, and without means.

There are many roads in life, the most difficult and worthy of them require a certain kind force and attitude, a spectacle of fortitude that only a few manage to comprehend and to embody.

This is character, the powerful attitude available to anyone but attained by the few.

To comprehend character we must comprehend first gravity and trees, yes, trees.

Gravity is a roman word that comes from the latin gravitas, the romans used it to describe a man with a strong personality. A man that similated an immovable force, like a strong, unshakable pillar. 

You can see it in the face of a man that is dead serious about something.

Character is a superb business quality as it gives assurance to a man’s purpose, a man of gravity will stand for what he believes in and fight for what he wants, character is synonym with self-assurance and confidence.

Emerson also compares character with self-sufficingness.

Winston_Churchill_fbSelf-reliance is a core characteristic of a stoic character. Let us not forget that character must be independant, it must stand alone.

This solid foundation that is character can be comprehended and explained with the inner citadel  concept in stoicism.

The Inner Citadel is a fortress around your innermost self, so that externals, meaning  all the things we cannot control, are powerless against our higher sense of will and reason.

The power to do this, to put things to the test of our will and become unmovable is what constitutes a man of character. It is a virtue that must be practiced at all times.

To illustrate this idea better, Aulus Gellius describes it just perfectly.

These representations of the soul, which the philosophers call phantasiai, by which a person’s spirit is momentarily moved, at the first glimpse of the thing which presents itself to the soul: they do not depend upon the will, and are not free. Rather, by means of some kind of force which is peculiar to them, they throw themselves upon people, in order to be known. Assents, by contrast, which are called sunkatatheseis, by means of which these representations are recognized and judged, are voluntary and take place through human freedom. This is why, when a terrifying sound is heard-whether it comes from the heavens or from the collapse of some building, or whether it announces some kind of danger, or anything else of that nature it is necessary that the soul of the sage, too, be also slightly moved and constricted and terrified; not because he judges that some form of evil is present, but because of the rapid and involuntary movements, which usurp the proper task of the mind and of reason. The sage, however, does not give his assent immediately to such representations which terrify his soul; he does not approve them, but brushes them aside and rejects them, and it seems to him that there is nothing to fear from such things. This is the difference between the sage and the foolish person: the foolish person thinks that things are as they appear to the first emotion of his soul-that is to say, atrocious and frightful, and the foolish person approves by his assent these first impressions, which appear to justify his fear. But the sage, although the color of his face was briefly and rapidly altered, does not give his assent, but maintains the force and solidity of the dogma which he has always had about such representations: that they are not at all to be feared, but they terrify people by means of a false appearance and an empty terror.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that if we are capable of fear, we will readily find terrors.727-architecture-interior-old-dirty

In ultimate instance, character is a decision. Is that final freedom of which Viktor Frankl writes in A man’s search for meaning. The inner freedom of choosing to face everything that happens with a stout heart. This inner freedom that is the ultimate power to choose how we are going to face life, with virtue and courage or with fear and cowardice.

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The single most important stoic decision.

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There is a famous and quite accurate stoic comparison of our lives with a donkey and a cart that says: Our way through life is like being a donkey tied to a cart. The cart is going to go where it is going to go, nothing to do about that. The donkey is tied, so it has to follow as well. The donkey has two options, follow willingly and therefore reducing annoyances for him and everybody in the cart or forcibly, therefore increasing trouble for him and everybody else.

This is a profoundly important lesson. Life can be lived in fear or in love and by love I mean courage, temperance and basically everything that is good and noble in a human being. You can say that you can live your life with virtue or with vice, the dark side or the way of the Jedi. Think of it however you like, but those are the two basic ways of being.

“Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant.”

― Seneca

There is a price to pay for everything in life. Think of any situation in your life that you Michael_Zeno_Diemer_-_Ship_at_Seadon’t like. If you want to get out of it, it is possible, but a price must be payed. Inaction is a form of action as well and a price must be payed for inaction.

Can you see where I’m going?

Know that there is always a price for everything. This goes for the way you live your life as well. If you live in vice, in protection mode, the price that you have to pay is literally hell. Not in the afterlife, but right now.

The opposite is true as well. If we choose to be led by fate willingly and live our lives from love, courage and temperance. Life will be a whole lot easier and much more rewarding. Jordan Peterson explains this in 12 Rules for Life:

Your nervous system responds in an entirely different manner when you face the demands of life voluntarily. You respond to a challenge, instead of bracing for a catastrophe. You see the gold the dragon hoards, instead of shrinking in terror from the all-too-real fact of the dragon. You step forward to take your place in the dominance hierarchy, and occupy your territory, manifesting your willingness to defend, expand and transform it. That can all occur practically or symbolically, as a physical or as a conceptual restructuring.

To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the to please God, in the ancient language).

This is the single most important decision you can make at every moment of your life. Choose wisely. Who knows, maybe you’ll start leading the cart yourself if you start pulling.

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Stoic mind Organization

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How does one achieve an organized mind? First, let’s see what Marcus Aurelius says about this.

“You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: Everything random, everything MARCUS AURELIOUS HEAD.jpgirrelevant. And certainly, everything self-important or malicious. You need to get used to winnowing your thoughts, so that if someone says, ‘What are you thinking about?’ you can respond at once (and truthfully) that you are thinking this or thinking that.”

Marcus Aurelius


Thinking is not easy. Just as I’m writing this I am struggling to correct my train of thought so that I can be clearly understood. I hope I’m successful in my intention. I want to talk about two bad habits we all inccure into when we think.

#1 Self absorption

There is a difference between doing something and “trying to do something”. When we are actually  doing something we enter into the famous and thoughtless flow state. When we are merely trying to do something, the ego comes into play and it becomes a very, very strong obstacle to  do what we intend to do.

The ego becomes a heavy burden and makes us care about what is not even important. Being self-absorbed is a terrible habit. My first glimpse of this bad habit was while I was still in university and I raised my hand to answer some question in a geopolitics class. This was a hard topic and to think about a solid answer is hard, but what made it even harder was thinking about how I looked while answering the question.

What made the task hard was choosing the words and the attitudes to “try to appear smart”. When you are at the ego mode of doing stuff you do not care about doing the right things and do them correctly. You are to busy monitoring yourself to maintain an image that you deem important, shooting yourself in the foot because you are not doing what needs to actually be done. This is the difference between trying and being. When you “are” something, there is no ego, there is just right action and a comforting silence in our heads.

#2 Not being clear on your purpose

You can tell the size of a man by the size of his problems. 

You are quite unique you know. You are quite random as well. There is not one single 51a7fb95d69a284ee9eeb72a27644eb7--photography-art-night-photography.jpgperson in the entire universe (really) that has experienced the same stuff you have. This is your most valuable asset. You are valuable not in how similar you are to others but in how different. This concept is extremely important, to define your purpose clearly you need to do the highest possible good. This is contribution. What do you like the most, what are the unique ways in which only you can contribute?

Think about this, you may think that you have to scorn the things that you like to not be egoistic (like maintaining your hobbies just as “hobbies” and keep working at something you hate). But by not giving the world the gift of your specific set of traits and abilities you are actually priving us of the best stuff you can offer. If we do not like our job or life situation and we keep at it as if we were being forced, we are just reenforcing us being egoistic and afraid. This is where the bad habit #2 comes into play. We have to contribute by being the best possible self we can aspire to be, be that writing, dancing or fixing cars. This is why you have to be clear on what you want so you can be it and become absorbed in the process and  not in how you look while doing stuff you don’t even like.

If you correct these two bad habits, you will have an organaized stoic mind. You will live in the present and you’ll enjoy more life generally as you are doing what you and what everyone of us needs you to be doing, contributing. Farewell.

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Stoic advise

Unconquerable men.

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I have to admit that as I write this words a painful hangover accompanies me. And because of it, I felt the need to sit sat down and write to remind myself and hopefully you as well some important stoic lessons.

37It’s easy to say that living with virtue is the supreme good but what about health and wealth? Are those things not needed? Have you ever been sick or hungover? Has it ever happened to you that you want to do something, like going to a trip for the weekend and not being able to do so because of work? Have you ever been furious cause no matter how hard you try to do something, a thing happens and you are no longer able to do it? Have you ever been mad for not having a better house or car or cellphone? Have you ever been angry for not being as handsome or pretty as you’d like?

But more deeply, have you ever been impatient or just feeling down for not having the life-situation you’d wish to have. I mean I am having one of those not so pretty situations right now, my hangover is pretty annoying and i do wish for it to end and living with virtue is hard when fortune is not on your side, but this is why the stoics scorned fortune and now that I write about it I begin to understand why.

We must scorn fortune because it is not ours, fortune belongs to itself. It’s not up to us to decide what happens to us, but it is for us to decide how to act and use what fortune gives us. That power, the power of virtue (to act from within) is what’s rightfully ours.

Here’s a short story from the letter to Lucilius from Seneca that exemplifies what I’m trying to say:

For Stilbo, after his country was captured and his children and his wife lost, as he emerged from the general desolation alone and yet happy, spoke as follows to Demetrius, called Sacker of Cities because of the destruction he brought upon them, in answer to the question whether he had lost anything : ” I have all my goods with me!” There is a brave and stout-hearted man for you ! The enemy conquered, but Stilbo conquered his conqueror. ” I have lost nothing ! ” Aye, he forced Demetrius to wonder whether he himself had conquered after all. ” My goods are all with me ! ” In other words, he deemed nothing that might be taken from him to be a good. We marvel at certain animals because they can pass through fire and suffer no bodily harm ; but how much more marvellous is a man who has marched forth unhurt and unscathed through fire and sword and devastation ! Do you understand now how much easier it is to conquer a whole tribe than to conquer one man ?

This is how a man becomes unconquerable, nothing can be taken from him, he is the chess-1.jpgconqueror not the conquered. A stoic man has literally nothing to lose, and everything to win. There is just upside.

I know it sounds hard and I really do hope that neither you nor I have to ever go through situation so harsh as the one seneca just narrated but nevertheless we have to understand just what it means to be truly stoic.

For practical matters, this way of being is unquestionably the best way of being we can aim for. Think about it, most people are angry because they don’t have what they want download (1)(and will never be, cause they’ll just want something else). Even worse, instant gratification has made our culture exponentially worse in this matter. Men has become the more anxious as we are getting instant gratification all the time and we are being programmed to want stuff tirelessly. We are being constantly bombarded with food (not necessarily good for us), an with sex in every advertising that makes us anxious of things that we don’t even know we needed. It has come to a situation in which  needs are literally being manufactured for us. But we have to remember:

The good that could be given, can be removed.


I’m not saying we most live in a cave and use nothing and want nothing. But to better explain it, let us see what Seneca has to say about this.  

“On the other hand,” he says, “nothing is needed by the fool, for he does not understand how to use anything, but he is in want of everything.”

The wise man needs hands, eyes, and many things that are necessary for his daily use ; but he is in want of nothing.

The Supreme Good calls for no practical aids from outside ; it is developed at home, and arises entirely within itself. If the good seeks any portion of itself from without, it begins to be subject to the play of Fortune.


Practically speaking, if our actions spring from within, anxiety will vanish and we will start to enjoy everything more (the process). A finished painting is a beautiful thing, the artist that makes it admires it and feels quite happy about it but if you ask him what does he enjoyed the most, he will certainly tell  you that the most enjoyable was the work itself, painting it.  

download (2).jpgIn this case, stoically, you admire the man you are and the man that becomes, value is not place in fortune or in external things but to the capacity we already have which is our power to live accordingly. Stoically, we begin to develop a sweet taste for the work and for our powers more than for our gainings and what fortune gives us. Our inner wealth is what will always be the most important to us.

I want to finish with this passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson Self Reliance. Farewell.

“The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man. For him all doors are flung wide. Him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire. Our love goes out to him and embraces him because he did not need it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson,

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Stoic advise


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We are all guilty of this slavery-inducing act: seeking validation.71+lnM2yVAL._SL1136_

I say slavery-inducing because that is what it is. We become slaves to other people opinions and we cannot live our lives correctly and free because of this disgusting vice.

It’s not wrong to receive praise but it is how it affects you however what matters , Seneca says:

You can tell the character of every man when you see how he gives
and receives praise.


A person that is looking for praise is ignorant. Virtue is the sole good . We cannot be free unless we come to accept that the only good we are ever going to have is  within from the very beginning (the power to act correctly, live with virtue).

The search for praise is expecting others to approve of us so we can approve ourselves. It’s just that, it is like asking for permission to be ok with ourselves and our acts (and so they become false). So, there are different ways in which we can receive praise, one is correct and the other is not. If we do it for the wrong reasons, we will feel as if we need praise, as if we need it to feel complete.

The good news is that you don’t really need it or even want it, think about it!

Why would you want something you already have yourself! It’s your opinion the one that matters as no one else rules over your life but you.

Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.1_am3GIZPbuUdquqevVFQqUg.jpeg

– Lao Tzu

This is no easy task however. I bet you that if you post something on instagram you will be concerned of how many likes you are getting. We live in a culture of praise. Everyone is looking for applause and it has become an addiction. The sick thing about the situation is that we are looking everywhere for praise, even from people we don’t know or even like.

How mad is he who leaves the lecture-room in a happy frame of mind simply because of applause from the ignorant ! Why do you take pleasure in being
praised bv men whom you yourself cannot praise ?


Now, Living correctly is done silently. You only need your own approval so as Seneca says:

Let philosophy be worshipped in silence.For what is baser than philosophy courting applause ? Does the sick man praise the surgeon while he is operating ?tumblr_neyqf51MMC1qmbg8bo1_500


Stoicism is very practical, it can be practiced all the time. Amor fati, love everything that happens, live in the moment, be courageous. All this virtues are accessible to you right now and there is no need for them to be approved, they don’t seek nor need approval to be practiced , so what are you waiting for to live correctly and proudly?
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Stoic advise

Virtue is the sole good


What is the ultimate goal? When is it that you finally “made it”? Is it maybe when you finish school? When you marry? When you have children? When you retire? Please think, when is it that you’ll say: I’m complete, now I can start living as intended, as it is supposed to be. When is that time coming?

Let me tell you a secret, that moment is never going to arrive.

It may seem as so, when we get success or a great relationship or something but just as trainthat came, another thing will come after that will promise us the same thing: completion.

We are never going to be complete, we are never going to be perfect. We will never have our life in complete order. Change will do what it does best, change everything. If your relationships are great but you become too comfortable, they will start fail. If your business is doing great and you stop putting attention to it, it will too surely fail. If you don’t take care of your body, daily, you’ll die quicker.

Does this sounds a bit to harsh? A bit to real? Well, It’s better to be informed. What then, is worthy?

Virtue is the supreme good. I want to make something clear.

_84010986_zeno-chest-976What do you understand for virtue? In our times, virtue can sound lame right? Like, there are so many cool things out there constantly appearing on facebook and instagram. Friends at the beachor hot women everywhere on instagram. Our friends are marrying and the photos show just pure joy and love. Dan Bilzerian riding a tank with a chick on his side. We see perfect lives everywhere, everywhere we look it looks like people has made it. And what does virtue offer? how in the world can virtue be the supreme good? This is a very, very, good question.

When we see all this amazing stuff in social media we fall into a trap, the trap of completion. This trap tells us that when we have achieved, the success, the marriage, that trip or anything else, then we’ll be complete. The secret is as we already know, that there is no completion, that is a game we are never going to win. Even getting all that stuff will not be fun and we will not be able to enjoy it if we remain in that state of mind.

If we are never going to be complete while pursuing all that amazing stuff, what then? We have to realize that how we are right now, with imperfections and everything, is enough. We have already arrived. There is no more running. Virtue is the only good and you have it right now. You don’t need to wait to have all that stuff, and you can be who you want to be right now. This is why virtue is the sole good, this is what being virtuous means. Being a virtuous man means not getting played with the game everyone is playing like mindless rats running the endless circle.

What is the answer then? Not wanting anything and just being content with a smile all the time? not pursuing anything?

Not at all. We can have all that stuff but we do not longer seek it to feel we are enough or complete. We focus more on the process, on the journey than in the goal itself. Only then can we start truly living. Only then can we be free to do what is actually important, not being limited by some worldly thing but being able to grab all those things from the abundance of our soul. All those things become a bonus, not an end to pursue. This is Freedom.

Once we start truly living, we see life for what it is, magnificence. Such an infinitesimal universe-explosion-star-flowersprobability that we are blessed to have.

For this reason I am all the more angry that some men claim the major portion of this time for superfluous things,—time which, no matter how carefully

it is guarded, cannot suffice even for necessary

things. Seneca

Once we realize that our life is now and not in some other place in the future, our time becomes precious. We realize that it is now that we live, not at some other point in time. This knowledge is essential. What is important now? To live as fully as possible.

Bring it to pass that I shall cease trying

To escape from death, and that life may cease to escape from me.


We have to accept death in our lives. It can be today, or it can be tomorrow or ten years from now. But we have to accept that there is no time, there is no time to waste, waiting for something to truly start living.

It is not everywhere that death shows himself so near at hand ; yet everywhere he is as near at hand.


Those amazing projects you have in mind? The time is now.

That girl you want to ask out? The time is now.

“If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Only when you accept death, you will stop escaping life.

Open your eyes to infinity. Accept that you are enough as imperfect as you are right now  and strive forever to perfection. This is what being a human being is all about.

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