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Self development, Stoic advice

Stoicism and quotes


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Let’s imagine something. Let’s suppose that you are in love with The Lord of the rings b38796464b768a6d6eb6de7e8a9175d1and The Lord of the rings IV is coming up this week (hypothetically speaking). You have been waiting for an entire year for the movie to come out and finally, you are going to watch it on Thursday, amazing.

Thursday comes.

You grab your jacket, grab your keys, start the engine and head to the theater. When you arrive, you buy your favorite chocolate bar, popcorn, and a drink, god everything’s perfect for the night.

The movie begins and suddenly you feel a popcorn banging in your head, you look back and you see nothing. The movie goes for about 10 min and you feel another popcorn banging in your head. You turn back and see a bunch of kids laughing, ok, now you know what’s going on but you’ve been waiting for such a long time to see this movie that you just let it go and hope the kids will choose another target.

Bang! three popcorns and a nut, ouch! the nut actually hurt. The kids are laughing uncontrollably and you have lost a whole scene thinking about those annoying kids throwing popcorn at you.

Bang! Ok, that’s enough, you get up head to the offices and call the cinema personnel, the kids are thrown out of the theater and you watch the remainder of the movie, annoyed, you get home angry and go to sleep cursing those little rats.

Let’s continue imagining.

Now, Imagine Marcus Aurelius sitting in his desk, at the front of the Marcomannic wars MARCUS AURELIOUS HEAD.jpgin what is today modern Serbia, writing his meditations (he wrote most of them during this period), and going through his usual affairs.

Suddenly, a  general calls to the door, Marcus could tell the distress on his voice, he calls him in and notices and can almost smell the pestilence of panic in the general’s face, something is wrong, something’s really, really wrong.

The general tells him that they suffered a terrible defeat, lost thousands of men and the barbarians are crossing the Alps to invade Italy for the first time in centuries. They got ambushed. Marcus takes a big breath, grabs the book he had in his hand just a second ago and reads:

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” 
― Marcus Aurelius

There is a plague of motivational quotes everywhere. In the office, hanging on our houses or being used as marketing to sell you something on Pinterest. There are so much, that they get forgotten 10 seconds after we read them.

It’s quite easy to read one and feel motivated, feeling a short dose of good feelings and motivation. This is a wrong use of them.

The exercises recommended in stoic quotes, to give an example, are all but easy.

Take the quote above, for example. If you read it in the morning, before the chaos and the stress of work and life hits you, it’s quite nice. But the quote demands of you to act and to apply its wisdom in the harshest of situations, and that is the moment when you must remember it and actually practice it.

The kids at the theater are just one tiny example of how easy it is to lose your cool and focus on what is under your control. It is precisely in those moments when you are able and must practice stoic wisdom.

Such an innocent example as well. But don’t be naive, life is very creative when it comes to testing your will. Be prepared, always.

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Complement this blog post with the power of responsibility. 

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Modern problems, Self development, Stoic advice, Uncategorized

Enjoy the painful process of learning


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“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.

 

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

Subscribe here

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.

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.

$10.00