Stoic advice

Fear, Sneaky Bastard.

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I want to talk about fear. Courage is one of the cardinal virtues in Stoicism. It is very, very important. You see, a stoic must be willing and not only willing but also happy about facing anything that comes his way. As I write this words I smile cause I remember the attitude that a stoic should have, it gives me peace.

What is fear? I want to dissect it so we can understand it fully.

The dictionary says as follows:  distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined;

That definition is not enough.

Fear is the reason we don’t take action. Fear is the painful experience of knowing what Unnamed_Darkness.jpgneeds to be done and staying paralyzed. Fear is the slow killer of dreams. Fear hides behind our rationalizations. Fear laughs at us when we say we want to achieve something. It takes many forms, most of them to keep it hidden so we don’t know what is the reason we don’t act. Fear is the ultimate barrier. It separates us from other people and separates other people from us. It disguises itself as insecurity. Fear makes trust impossible. Fear makes humans vengeful and spiteful. Fear is the enemy of greatness and the best friend of mediocrity. Fear makes a man live a life in the shadows like gollum, too afraid to come to the light. Fear is treacherous and misguiding. Fear seduces man with petty excuses and tells him he cannot have the best. Fear makes a man undeserving. Fear makes a man crawl through the dirt like an animal, like a snake. Fear makes a man forget his greatness and justifies his inaction. Fear makes a man blame everyone but himself. Fear, the great enemy.

And still, I think that fear is not sufficiently described. When we go about our days, we don’t realize it but it is there, constantly. When we don’t clean, when we don’t do the best that we can, when we lie, when we fake our identities, when we don’t do anything about our dreams. Fear, sneaky bastard.

I’m too tired. I don’t feel like doing that today. Next time I see her, I’ll ask her number.

Sounds familiar?

1grima.pngThat is fear. Fear speaking behind curtains, just like Grima in The Lord of the Rings murmurs King Theoden behind his back. That is fear in our lives. Saying: it’s ok, we’ll do it tomorrow, today we are tired and all that familiar stuff.

The problem with fear is precisely this, it hides, and even worse, we don’t want to see it.

We can think of our lives as trivial and normal, but no! Believe me my friend, you are now, here, in the very battle of your life.

You and I are going to die, literally.

We all have our great war and greatness lies at the other side.

First we have to realize this. This is the great battle of our lives. That project you have Column_of_Marcus_Aurelius_-_detail1been thinking of? That girl you want to go out with? That city you want to visit? That book you want to write? Inner peace?  Those are the manifestations of your personal battle. Anything that you want to achieve, that is your battle.

Once the decision to be great is taken fear takes its true form. Fear stops being Grima and becomes Sauron. Fear becomes our greatest enemy. Fear stops being the advisor of mediocrity and becomes a great dragon. This is the moment when we must kill it, overcoming it and rising above it.

Once we know our fears we must face them to rise.

This is why courage is one of the cardinals virtues of stoicism, greatness requires courage. There are going to be many battles in our lives and so we need to be sure of what we stand for. As stoics, courage is our answer. Everytime we encounter fear, we act with courage.

Why do the stoics feel happy about everything, even our fears? Fears shows us our way. It shows us the obstacles to overcome for us to rise into greatness. As stoics, nothing is despised everything is embraced gladly.

From now on, listen. Listen very carefully. There is a voice inside each of us that knows. light_in_darkThat knows right from wrong, at least personally. That voice is courage. Fear wants to be the one talking, and if we let it talk enough, just like King Theoden, we will become dull and weak, like dirt creatures. Courage gives us light, who do you prefer Gandalf or Grima? Or for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, a lion or a snake?

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

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Psychology, Short mornings

Individuality and saying NO

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Living within society means living within a set of rules called culture. We have family Witan_hexateuchrules, government rules and  relationship rules. This are collective or personal, think about all the ways your family and your relationships are different but similar to other people. All rules create our understanding of culture. They are extremely subtle but nevertheless they are there and we follow them daily. The problem with these rules is that some help us and some definitely do not. When we are not conscious of them, our individuality is restrained.

What does it mean to be an individual?

I believe we all know deep down o what individuality is. Everytime we feel like our own, everytime we reject stuff in our lives that we don’t really care nor wifh for, the feeling of individuality springs and the joy of being our own emerges. Everytime we have the courage to say no to something internal or external.

This collection of rules is called culture. They are  set by people across time that believed that doing something in a certain kind of way would be convenient for what they were trying to do. It’s good to greet each other or say good morning, it makes our relationships better.

Culture is everywhere and it permeates every corner of human society.

We may think that we are individual acting independently but most of the time we are just doing what people before us thought was good.

Culture is good, culture is great, it gives us a road, it provides us with answers that 3.-Ciseri_L-Esule.jpgpeople before us had to figure out for themselves. The problem of culture arises when we don’t realize that culture is just a supposition of how things should be done . Nothing “should” be how it is but most of the times we fall in the trap that we “need” to do or act in certain ways because “that’s just how it is”.

It’s important to know that culture is constantly changing. We can see it with Rosa Parks  sitting at the front of the bus being a black woman, changing what could and could not be done forever. Culture is manufactured by us, by human beings.

Everyone is searching for happiness, we look for it as best as we can. Every “culture rule” we follow we do it because we think it will benefit us. The problem is that when we don’t know that the rules of the game are not set and static but can be effectively changed and molded.

Individuality and independence is the power to be a culture creator. An individual must know what culture is: a useful social contract on how to behave that can be accepted or not accepted and therefore recreated. This is why an individual has to learn to say no. Saying no, often, is not easy. We feel the urge to obey the government, our families or our partner because we feel safe within this social boundaries but if we do not learn to say no, we will never be true individuals that can actually say or do something that can help make the culture better. We would just become part of the blind masses.

225px-Magritte_TheSonOfManIf culture is manufactured, why not make it ourselves?

Once we realize what culture is we can decide, independently, what benefits us, what benefits others and what is just plainly stupid. Remember, people live within culture because it is a shelter. Being independent means not being afraid to go into the wild and claim new lands for ourselves.

To be truly independent is to know that the way we act must be consciously chosen by ourselves. Our fears, our doubts and everything about us must be consciously analyzed to see if it is helping us or hindering us, this act must be constant. If there is anything inside us that is not pushing us forward, we must let it burn and create something new that sets new standards for living a better life.

You may meet with scorn, but scorn is just fear of the new, fear of the truly independent individual  that is not acted upon but that acts independently and that refreshes culture as a plant must be watered everyday.

That is the importance of learning to say no and becoming an individual.

Donation for the cause

A stoic boldly leaps into life, he does not question himself whether to act or not, the decision has already been made, we want to help you become a stoic. Thanks for the support