“The fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live.” – Epicurus
Courage: The Stoic Approach
Courage isn’t only about heroic acts in grand battles; it’s about the small decisions we make every day. The Stoics understood this. They knew that courage is deeply connected to living fully in the present moment and facing our tasks with determination and integrity.
For example, consider a writer facing a blank page every day or an entrepreneur taking the first step toward a new venture. These actions require the courage to confront uncertainty and potential failure. In the words of Stoic philosopher Seneca, “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
The Art of Living: Michel de Montaigne
Michel de Montaigne’s quote, “My art and profession is to live,” reminds us that life isn’t something we’re waiting for; it’s happening now. Living fully means engaging in the process, not just dreaming about the outcomes.
Take the process of learning a new language. It’s not about fantasizing about the day when you’ll speak fluently; it’s about the daily commitment to practice, to make mistakes, and to learn from them. It’s about finding joy in the gradual progress and the tiny victories along the way.
Embracing the Process
What does embracing the process look like in real life? Here are some examples:
- The Athlete: The relentless training, the early mornings, the discipline of diet and exercise. It’s not just about winning a medal; it’s about the growth and self-mastery that comes from the daily grind.
- The Artist: The countless sketches, the exploration of ideas, the rejection and revision. The final piece is a product of a lively, often challenging, creative process.
- The Student: The hours of study, the pursuit of understanding, the resilience in the face of failure. The diploma represents years of dedication and curiosity.
The fool, as Epicurus would call him, overlooks these daily practices, focusing only on the outcomes. But the wise understand that the process itself is where life happens.
Focus on the Process
Life is unfolding right now, in the process, in the courage to engage with it. It’s not about waiting for that superb and grand moment; it’s about finding meaning and joy in the journey.
So ask yourself: What can you do today to truly live? What small step can you take in your work, your personal development, or your relationships?
Embrace the process, summon your Stoic courage, and dive into the art of living. As Montaigne would tell you, life is an art. And the canvas is yours to paint.
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