Enjoy the painful process of learning

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”

― Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Book-and-pen-top-10-wallpaper-hd6There is nothing more fascinating about the human being than our ability to learn, knowledge is power, learning, therefore, is our ability for power attainment. You say you want to be powerful, let that phrase sink in.

I’m not going to lie, learning something, really learning something is hard. You may think that you just have to put in a few hours of work here and there and that should do the trick. But Honestly, I’ve spent several hours “learning” German and haven’t got anywhere.

Learning requires undivided concentration and strenuous effort, to give you an example, when you are reading in another language to learn it, you may have already experienced this before, you have to be constantly on the lookout for the words that you do know so they can give you a hint as to the words that you don’t know so you can start conceiving some coherence out of the text and decipher the meaning of the words that you do not know and the whole text in general. Attention and effort are mandatory.

Attention and effort are a rare commodity these days. I’d argue, honestly, that they are old booksyour most valuable commodity. We are being constantly bombarded by information. It seems as if everything is fighting against us when we try to work on something. Youtube will always, trust me, always have some video that you think is “productive” like TED or something, but in reality, if that video cuts your attention span from the actual work, it really just hindered you as you just lost time you could’ve spent in undivided attention for your work.

I can imagine Benjamin Franklin working on his book, or really, any other person before our cellphone and internet era, even though they didn’t have as much information as we do now, they had way much more time to work and to learn.

Today, this can be used as an advantage or as a disadvantage.

If you go through the pain of sitting down, turning your phone off and actually getting to work and learn what you love, you will get very far. This is because everybody is too busy watching cat videos and inspirational TED talks. Use it to your advantage, you will get ahead, fast.

Our age is the age of happiness. Everybody wants to be happy and comfortable all the time and as soon as we are not, we run as fast as we can for some comfort, be it in food or in scrolling down Instagram for a while. The pursuit of happiness is illusory. There is more fulfillment in mastery.

Do something that makes you proud, not something that makes you comfortable.

Knowledge is power, learning is the attainment of power.

You can complement this article with learners and non-learners which treats on another fundamental part of the process of learning.

 

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Walk the talk

I hadn’t really understood, in my heart, what Ryan Holiday meant with the title of his egobook: The ego is the enemy. I have to admit that I was hesitant of reading it when it first came out. The obstacle is the way, was fantastic so I did push myself to buy it and give it a go. At first, I couldn’t conceive the notion of having my ego as an enemy, the idea of having a war with my ego seemed like having a war with “me”, and if I had a war with “me”, then insanity would be just around the corner. It almost seemed as if you had to hate yourself, being yourself the enemy. Bit Schizophrenic isn’t it? Later I began to understand what the Ego is and realized that I could not rationally call the Ego “myself”.

Ryan defines the ego as “an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition.” The need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility—that’s ego.

The ego can be compared to a child inside ourselves. A winning and detestable child, desperate for attention and willing to do anything to obtain it. This child thinks the whole world revolves around him and demands all eyes to direct their attention to him. He acts for attention, approval, and validation and to assure his feeling of greatness. He also believes in his heart that he deserves it. He feels entitled to attention and therefore becomes mad when he does not get it (anxiety levels are soaring). This way of being, obviously, is prejudicial as it separates the person from reality.

If you think you deserve greatness, why would you have to actually work for it? When you are trying to prove you are smart, you are more concerned about appearing to be smart than on actually being smart and doing the things that make up for a smart person and that right there, is the problem.

The ego functions by searching for ways to assure himself that he is great. Our times are great for this indeed! All of our inner spoiled brats have to do is upload a photo of some nicely crafted Tacos on Instagram and get hearts and validation as if it were his! This reminds me of the following stoic phrase.

Don’t be prideful with any excellence that is not your own. If a horse should be 12_cabecera_1prideful and say, ” I am handsome,” it would be supportable. But when you are prideful, and say, ” I have a handsome horse,” know that you are proud of what is, in fact, only the good of the horse. What, then, is your own? Only your reaction to the appearances of things. Thus, when you behave conformably to nature in reaction to how things appear, you will be proud with reason; for you will take pride in some good of your own. Epictetus

Sorry, but no, you should not take praise in the Tacos picture.

This is why the ego is the enemy. The aim of the ego is validation, it does not concern with doing the work that will actually get him where it wants.

Facts are better than dreams said, Winston Churchill.

Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative—one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time. Ryan Holiday

God, exactly. Instead of trying to prove you are smart or brave. Focus on being smart andwittgenstein1 L brave, this can be achieved by action and by learning. Instead of trying to prove something focus better on growing and becoming something. No time in your life must be regarded as “someday”. All you have is right now. Every tiny action is in fact monumental. Walk the talk, my friend.

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

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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.

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GIFT A BOOK

Let’s use social media for something helpful, shall we? Help the world by spreading Stoicism, pay just $9 and gift a Mexico City person a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ll send you an email so you can write a personal message and the photo will be uploaded to the Stoic Answers page.

$9.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

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