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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Psychology, Reflections, Stoic advice

Fortune is not to be trusted

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If you can meet with Triumph and Disasterfrederick
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
Rudyard Kipling
There shouldn’t be anything in yourself that you admire as much as your capacity to deal with reality on your own conditions.
The simple, greatest stoic teaching, to develop inner confidence in choosing to be content with concentrating explicitly on those things that are directly under your control.
It is painfully easy to derange ourselves into thinking that outer happiness and fame or fortune are worthier or feel better than a strong and imperturbable character.
It is only during dark times that you are reminded, painfully so, that strength of character is worth so much more than fame or success materially in life. Remembering the strength of character and a powerful will during this times is easy, you have no other option, it is during happy times which strength of character must be constantly reminded to be ready.
So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her, and gain
all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these
winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God. In the
Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt
sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents,
the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other
favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for
you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing
can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The great Theodore Roosevelt wrote to his brother in 1880: “My happiness is so great that it makes me almost afraid.” He had had a terrific year, he wrote a book attended public office and won his first public office. Fortune, sometimes smiles greatly upon us, at least once. In 1884 when his daughter was born, however, just two days after birth, his wife died from Brights disease and two hours later in the same hospital, his mother from Typhoid fever. He marked in his diary that grim day with a big X in his diary.
Life comes at you fast. You never know what is going to happen, all you can do is be prepared to face it. Later Roosevelt wrote:
“We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is theodore-rooseveltwhether we shall meet them well or ill.”
Theodore Roosevelt
Self-ownership must be practiced at all times. This is a constant practice.
With practice, anything can be attained, but there are few things as important in life as really owning our presence here on earth.
Remember that fortune will benefit or harm you at any moment, she is not to be trusted. Know this and you will be free.

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