Attitude

marcusaurelius“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Talk about starting a day with an attitude.

It’s important to know what attitude is and what it is not, however.

Recently I started reading the (to my surprise, quite stoic) book: The Subtle Art of not giving a Fuck by Mark Manson in which he discusses a term that can greatly aid you in correcting your thinking.

The feedback loop from hell

Remember the last time you were nervous about something? An uncomfortable chat 2700with someone? Maybe you had to address a difficult topic at your job or something similar? Ok, nobody likes to be nervous. We’d all want to be perfectly confident and secure of ourselves but the reality is that nervousness is a universal feeling that you will get from time to time as we all do. The problem here is not the feeling itself, but our wanting not to have that feeling,  which is what keeps feeding this perfectly normal feeling and converts it into a mountain of nervousness that shouldn’t be that big in the first place. This is the feedback loop from hell and it happens every time we don’t want to feel angry or sad.

The way out of this loop is to “not try” to eliminate the emotion. Trying to eliminate it will interrupt its natural cycle and will perpetuate it until you are fine with having it. This is how you stop the loop.

It’s especially difficult today when we are indoctrinated to “feel good” all the time, it’s culturally inappropriate to feel inappropriate, ironically.

You cannot decide “not to be angry”, you can only decide how you are going to respond to your anger and here is where attitude begins.

Attitude

Being ok with your emotions is not acting on your emotions. If everyone did this, many kingpeople would be punched in the face daily, trust me. Being ok with them is not to ignore them either, emotions are emotions are propositional content and you do not have to act on them, however, it is extremely useful to take them into account.

Knowing this you can focus on what you can control, which in this case is your attitude.

An attitude is a composition of manners and dispositions. 

Just like Marcus Aurelius knew, you are going to encounter many things throughout your day, some pretty and some not so pretty, you are going to feel bad and you are going to feel good. This does not change the fact that your attitude towards what happens to you should not be one inspired in the Stoic teachings.

An attitude of courage and responsibility, of compassion and magnanimity.

Your attitude is always under your control. And it will make you way cooler as well.


 

If you are interested in understanding emotion, stoically speaking, I recommend the book by Margaret Graver’s, Stoicism and emotion. How to be a stoic has excellent series as well, you can check it here.

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Problems are good

55aeaa8f002f4d047f5cfa5b06921ca4In life, you are going to be given a huge compilation of problems that you can choose to solve or not, but you are going to be given problems anyway.

The word “problem” has a negative sound to it. It shouldn’t, problems are just as part of life as breathing. They also present you with opportunity, in fact, opportunities are disguised as problems. Our problems show us the way.

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

― Marcus Aurelius

Don’t know where to go and what to do with your life? Don’t think positive, instead, think about what annoys you the most, what is it that you don’t like and want to change? That is where you want to go.

In Dante’s Inferno, the way out was at the very center of hell. Life is just the same. dantes-inferno-c1520-grangerProblems are not going away, they will wait for you to rise over them and become better because of it. 

Happiness isn’t something static, it changes, and it comes every time you solve a problem, you don’t want to run from them but solve them.

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

Eric Greitens talks about “The Frontline” in his book Resilience, which I highly recommend. I’ll let him explain it himself.

As a Navy SEAL, you understood the word “frontline” to mean the place where you met the enemy. The frontline was where battles were fought and fates decided. The frontline was a place of fear, struggle, and suffering. It was also a place where victories were won, where friendships of a lifetime were forged in hardship. It was a place where we lived with a sense of purpose.

But “Frontline” isn’t just a military term. You have a frontline in your life now. In fact, everyone has a place where they encounter fear, where they struggle, suffer, and face hardship. We all have battles to fight. Eric Greitens 

Do you know your frontline? I’m sure you do. Get on it.

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

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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.

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