Psychology, Self development, philosophy, Modern problems

Two ways of living


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“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” 
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Living for today or living for tomorrow. Plain and simple. This is, at the core, a matter of courage, the courage to live and embrace life as it is or the lack of courage and hiding in a “better tomorrow” or “better times”. Bear with me.

Imagine a mighty mountain, a tall, white and insultingly big one staring right at you, daringly, from the distance, you can almost hear it saying: “Come and try if you dare”.

What is the goal of climbing a mountain? Getting to the top?

The top is where the glory is right?

No, no, no, no No! If you’ve ever climbed a mountain before and spent 12 gruesome hours in altitude, suffering through the cold cutting your face like little knives in the night and still keep going further even though the altitude is making you want to vomit just to get to the bloody top?

Hell no. Getting to the top is just a bonus, once you get there, you experience a blissful high and sense of achievement for about………. 20 minutes and then you have to get down, even more tired and suffer all the way back down, because you know, the summit is kinda like the middle of the trek. Then you get back on the car, open a beer and begin thinking how much you liked all that good suffering. Henry David Thoreau has a great quote for this feeling.

“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The reasoning here is that the goal was never the top, but the process. What happened inside of you as you got there. Your will to push, your will to bear, your decision to smile in front of all that tiredness, in front of your weary body, in front of adversity itself. The more adversity, the bigger your smile, the bigger the glory. Stoic Antifragility itself.

“My formula for human greatness is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not in the future, not in the past, not for all eternity. Not only to endure what is necessary, still less to conceal it — all idealism is falseness in the face of necessity — , but to love it…” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Living for today or living for tomorrow. Back on it.

Living for tomorrow equals not living in the present. Equals living in expectancy of something to happen to start living at all. This is what’s fashionable in the 21st century. When I marry, I’ll be happy. When I afford my dream wedding then I’ll be happy. Once I finally buy that black BMW then I’ll be able to prove who I really am! When I know how to do this or that or have that job then my life will be so much better.

“They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.” 
― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

The mountain is just an allegory for everything else. It’s the Sisyphean myth.

When I get to the top, then I’ll be happy.

Now, if you follow this line of reasoning. Living for tomorrow means that getting to point a to point b is what will make you happy. So, if this is the case, then shouldn’t you do everything in your power to get to point B as fast and efficiently as possible.

If this is the case you should just take a damn helicopter and get to the summit. If that’s what’ll make you happy. But it won’t, and you very well know will not.

“They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.” 
― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

This will simply not do because you don’t really want “just getting to the top”. What you want is to be the badass who got at the top.

Being, stick this word into your head.

What you truly want is to be “the new wearer of clothes”, you don’t really want just the “clothes”.

Ironically.

You can do this right now. But it is painful, it is painful because just like with climbing the mountain you have to face all its adversities, and your own shortcoming, just so it is in life and anything you want. Pain and adversity give human life meaning. They make your challenges real, they are the price you have to pay for greatness. It’s not all pain and adversity, obviously, it depends on the lenses through which you look at them. Think about exercise, your legs hurt after you are done, but they hurt in a good way. This is what you want to achieve.

Living for the now.

When you think about living in the present moment, you might think: What about my goals, must I shun them away? Just concentrate deeply on what I’m doing at every moment?

No. When you climb a mountain, you have a goal, getting to the top, but that goal is just there to give you a sense of direction of where you want to go.

One thing is to set goals and then doing what is needed and another very different is to daydream about something being done. Life is now.

“First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.” 
― Epictetus

If you live for today, you live for what is now, you are not waiting for something to happen, you make things happen. You don’t fantasize about the time when something’s done, you are too busy being and doing whatever it is you want to do today.

Life itself becomes a Dance, a Journey.

Every moment of the trip or the dance is an end in itself. Every step you take, every pain you endure, everything becomes an end in itself. Everything welcomes you to live now and not tomorrow.

Life becomes a piece of art, a piece of music, a dance. The end of dancing is not getting somewhere, it is dancing.

Living in the moment and for the moment gives your life a new perspective, it takes meaning away from that uncertain future and gives it to the moment which is in your hands right now, under your control.

What are you going to do with it?

A great complement to this read: Stoicism and Power

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Conflict and Truth


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“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” 
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Have you ever given thought to the complexity of ideas?

It’s not enough to have just a good disposition towards life, although that certainly is the first step that must be taken at the beginning of an examined and philosophical life, adding to that you must also be intelligent in your approach.

Ray Dalio’s company, Bridgewater, thrives on what he calls an “Idea Meritocracy”. This means that the company will be led and decisions are taken based on the most accurate, beneficial and efficient ideas happening in the organization.

But for this idea meritocracy to happen, there must be, quite obviously, a clash of ideas to measure which idea holds best against reality. This there is going to be conflict, a lot of it. The word “conflict” has a bad connotation, it seems it is something to be avoided. But, in an idea meritocracy, it is something that must be sought. Conflict will shine a light on ideas.

Now, it’s not just arguing for the sake of arguing, it’s more complicated than that. Conflict will not work correctly if it’s just an Ego fight to give an example. If two people are arguing about supposedly something but in reality they are just establishing superiority, nothing will be achieved but a winner and a loser and someone seeking revenge afterward.

Truth is what we seek.

So, it’s also more complicated than just having a good disposition.

Why? Because.

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” 
Oscar Wilde,

Holding conflict

Don’t you think we are used to avoiding conflict at all costs?

We fear it like the plague. This will not do if we are searching for the truth and to look at things in the face and know them for what they are as Marcus Aurelius quoted.

Whenever we stumble into conflict sometimes it’s easier to just give in to whatever point it is that is being argued, because sometimes, the point may be too small and insignificant to fight for. It may be something we are too lazy to clear out and so we just give in. This instances may not matter in the short term but put them all together and then you have a huge mess.

Assertiveness

Assertiveness is simply defined as the courage to speak your mind and face the consequences. You very well might not be right, in all cases, you could be blatantly wrong. But if you don’t speak up about what you think is right, you will never arrive at the truth because the other person might be assertive when you are not, and vice-versa, but then again, how do you know he or she might be right? He is no different than you.

Truth and progress must be constant work and this requires courage, on both sides. It takes the courage to speak up for what you think is right, but it also takes the courage to admit that you are wrong, which is I’m sure you know, harder.

Conflict, when done right, should be seen as an opportunity, not as something to dread. It simply means that there is something that could be done in a better way or something that should be stopped immediately. Conflict, when well managed, is good.

“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

A great complement to this read: Separation of tasks

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.