Honesty As Our Default - Day 66 - Deepstash

Honesty As Our Default - Day 66

  • All of us have used phrases like, "I'm going to be straightforward with you here... ", "I'll be honest with you... ", "No disrespect but..." Empty expressions or not, if you say you're being honest now, does that mean you usually aren't?
  • What if, instead, you cultivated a life and a reputation in which honesty was as emphatic and explicit as a contract, as permanent as a tattoo? Not only would it save you from needing to use the reassurances that other, less scrupulous people must engage in, it will make you a better person.

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MORE IDEAS FROM The Daily Stoic

  • There is only one thing that causes unhappiness. It's attachment. Attachments to a specific person, place, time, job or a lifestyle.
  • Attachments are what make it so hard to accept change. Once we have them, we don't want to let go. We become slaves to maintaining the status quo.
  • But everything is in a constant state of change. We have certain things for a while and then lose them. The only permanent thing is our reasoned choice. They are resilient and adaptable. The sooner we become aware of this the better. The easier it will be to accept and adapt to what does happen.

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  • The events that will transpire today are the same things that have always occurred. This moment right now, is a quotation of the moments that have come before and will come ever after.
  • This idea is expressed beautifully in the Christian hymn Gloria Patri. "As it was in the beginning, and now, and always, and to the ages of ages." This fact can have a calming, centering effect. No need to get excited, no need to wait on pins and needles. If you haven't seen this before, someone else has. That can be a relief.

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  • In undergoing the twelve step program, many addicts struggle most with step 2: acknowledging a higher power. Addicts often fight this one. At first they claim its because they're atheists or because they don't like religion. But later they realise that this is just the addiction talking.
  • You don't have to believe there is a god directing the universe, you just need to stop believing that you're the director. As soon as you can attune your spirit to that idea, the easier and happier your life will be, because you will have given up the most potent addiction of all: control

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The best and the greatest number of authors have asserted that philosophy consists of three parts: the moral, the natural, and the rational.

  1. The first puts the soul in order.
  2. The second throughly examines the natural order of things.
  3. The third enquires into the proper meaning of words, and their arrangements and proofs which keep falsehoods from creeping in to displace truth.

These three parts - have one aim. As different as they are, they have the same purpose: to help you live a good life ruled by reason. Not in the future, but right now.

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If you start something and right away feel yourself getting lazy and irritated, first ask yourself: Why am I doing this? If it really is a necessity, ask yourself: Whats behind my reluctance? Fear? Spite? Fatigue?

Don't forge ahead hoping that someone will relieve you or someone will explain you why what you're doing matters. Don't be the person who says yes with their mouth but no with their actions. Quality is much better than quantity.

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  • When someone has a strong opinion about something, it usually says more about them than whatever or whomever the opinion happens to be. This is especially true when it comes to resentment and hatred of other people.
  • A Stoic does two things. They ask: Is this opinion inside my control? If there is a chance for influence or change, they take it. But if there isn't, they accept this person as they are (and never hate a hater).
  • Our job is tough enough already. We don't have time to think about what other people are thinking, even if it's about us.

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  • We're all addicts in one way or another. We're addicted to our routines, to our coffee, to our comfort, to someone else's approval. These dependencies mean we're not in control of our own lives - the dependency is.
  • Our routines can be disrupted, the doctor can forbid us from drinking coffee, we can be thrust into uncomfortable situations. That is why we must strengthen ourselves by testing these discrepancies before they become too great.
  • Make yourself invulnerable to your dependency on comfort and convenience, or one day your vulnerability might bring you to your knees.

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"You can bind up my leg, but not even Zeus has the power to break my freedom of choice." - Epictetus

  • Great men like Epictetus, Stockdale, McCain etc., where put under chains.
  • None of these men broke. No one could make them sacrifice their principles. That's the thing - someone can throw you in chains, but they don't have the power to change who you are. Even under the worst torchur and cruelties that humans can inflict on one another, our power over our own mind and our power to make our own decisions can't be broken - only relinquished.

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I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent - no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you. - Seneca

  • There's a benefit for so-called misfortune. Having experienced and survived it, we walk away with a better understanding of our own capacity and inner strength.
  • So today if things look like they might take a bad turn, why worry? This might be one of those formative experiences you will be grateful for later.

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  • The stoics saw sports as both a fun pastime as well as a training ground to practice for the challenges one will inevitably face in the course of living.
  • Everyone has found themselves outmatched by an opponent, frustrated by some skill that we don't - height, speed, vision, whatever. How we choose to respond says a lot about who we are.
  • Do we see it as a chance to learn and get stronger? Do we get frustrated and complain? Or worse, do we call it off and find an easier game to play, one that makes us feel good instead of challenged?

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  • You deserve a vacation. You work hard. You sacrifice. You push yourself. It's time for a break. Hop a plane, check into a hotel, and head to the beach - but tuck a book under your arm. Make sure you enjoy your relaxation like a poet - not idly but actively, observing the world around you, better understanding your place in the universe.
  • Maybe your goal is to make enough money so that you can retire early. Good for you! But the purpose of retirement is not to live a life of indolence or to run out the clock, as easy as that might be to do. That is not life. It's not freedom either.

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  • Marcus Aurelius didn't want to be emperor. Epictetus lived his life like a slave. Our station in life can be as random as a roll of dice. Some of us are into previlage and others adversity. Sometimes opportunities, other times a lucky break, but to us it feels like a burden.
  • Whatever happens, our job is not to complain but to do the best we can to accept it and fulfill it. Is there still room for ambition? Of course! History tells us stories with bit parts turned into starring roles in future adaptations. But all this begins with acceptance - and a desire to excel at what we have been assigned.

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"Consider who you are. Above all, a human being, carrying no greater power than your own reasoned choice, which oversees all other things, and is free from any other master." - Epictetus

Your hidden power is your ability to use reason and make choices, however limited or small. Think about the areas of your life where you are under duress or weighted down by obligation. What are the choices available to you, day after day? Are you taking advantage? Are you finding the positives?

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"No one is crushed by fortune, unless they are first deceived by her... those who aren't pompous in good times, don't have their bubbles burst with change. Against either circumstance, the stable person keeps their rational soul invincible, for it's precisely in the good times they prove their strength against adversity." - Seneca

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How can people prove their words to be their own - by putting into practice what they've been preaching.

  • There was a lot of borrowing among the philosophers. That's because they weren't concerned with authorship. More important, they believed that what was said mattered less than what was done.
  • You're welcome to take all of the words, feel free to tweak and edit and improve. Adapt them to the real conditions and put them into practice. Speak with your actions more than anything else.

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  • A good person is invincible, for they don't rush into contests in which they aren't the strongest. You will never compel what they set out for, nor trap them in what they would avoid. How can such a person not be invincible?
  • Don't try to beat the opponent where they are strongest. That's what we try to do when we are put on the spot. Or we say yes to everything that comes our way.
  • Discretion is the better part of valour. Think hard before choosing, and make yourself unbeatable.

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  • It's pretty obvious that one should keep away from the wicked and two-faced as much as possible. Marcus is reminding us to avoid false friends.
  • But what if we turn it around? We've all been frenemy at one point or another. We've been nice to their face - usually because there was something in it for us - but later, in different company, we said how we really felt. Ore we've strung someone along, cared only when things were going well, or declined to help even though someone needed us.
  • This behaviour is beneath us - and worth remembering the next time we accuse someone else of being a bad friend.

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  • Philosophy attracts introverts. The study of human nature can make you aware of other people's faults and can breed contempt for others. So do struggle and difficulty - they isolate us from the world.
  • But none of that changed that we are, as Aristotle put it, social animals. We need each other. We must be there for each other. We must take care of each other (and to allow others to care for us in return). To pretend otherwise is to violate our nature, to be more or less than what is means to be a human being.

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  • People tend to get ahead of themselves, thinking they've got it all figured out and are better than those that don't. It becomes so unpleasant when someone has to drop some knowledge on them.
  • But this is entirely avoidable. If the bubble is never inflated, it won't need to be popped. Overconfidence is a great weakness. But if you are already humble, no one will need to humble you - and the world is much less likely to have nasty surprises in store for you. If you stay down to earth, no one will need to bring you - often times crushingly so - back down.

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  • Cato the younger had enough money to dress in fine clothing. Yet he often walked around Rome barefoot. He chose this way because he was training his soul to be strong and resilient. He was learning indifference: an attitude of "let come what may" that would serve him well.
  • His training prepared him for any conditions, any kind of luck. If we undergo our own training and preparations, we might find ourselves similarly strengthened.

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  • Something happened that we wish had not. Which of these is easiest to change: our opinion or the event that is past?
  • The answer is obvious. Accept what happened and change your wish that it had not happened. The art of acquiescence - to accept rather than fight every little thing.
  • Stoics take us a step forward. Instead of simply accepting, they urge us to enjoy what has happened - whatever it is. A love of fate.
  • To wish for what has happened to happen is a clever way to avoid disappointment, but to actually feel gratitude for what happens? To love it? That's a recipe for happiness and joy.

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  • Anyone can get lucky. There's no skill in being oblivious, and no one would consider that greatness.
  • On the other hand, the person who perseveres through difficulties, who makes it to their destination through hard work and honesty? That's admirable because their survival was a result of fortitude and resilience, not birth right and circumstance.
  • A person who overcame not just the external obstacles to success but mastered themselves and their emotions along the way? That's much more impressive.
  • The person who has been dealt a harder hand, understood it, but still triumphed? That's greatness.

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"Here's a lesson to test your mind's mettle: take part of a week in which you have only the most meager and cheap food, and ask yourself if this is really the worst that you feared. It is when times are good that you should gird yourself for tougher times ahead, for when fortune is kind the soul can build defenses against her ravages. So it is that soldiers practice maneuvers in peacetime, erecting bunkers with no enemies in sight and exhausting themselves under no attack so that when it comes they won't grow tired." - Seneca

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Perfection is the enemy of Action - Day 4

We don't abandon our pursuits because we dispair of ever perfecting them.

  • Psychologists speak of cognitive distortions - exaggerated thoughts which include
  1. If you're not with me, you're against me.
  2. Because this wasn't a complete success, it is a total failure
  • This sort of extreme thinking is associated with depression and frustration. Perfection rarely begets perfection - only disappointment.
  • We're never going to be perfect. We're human after all. Our pursuits should be aimed at progress, however little that it's possible for us to make.

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  • "Live each day as if it were your last" is a chiche. Plenty say, few actually do it.
  • A better analogy would be soldiers who are about to leave on deployment. Not knowing whether they'll return or not, what do they do?
  • They get their affairs in order, handle their business, tell their children or family that they love them. No time for quarrelling and other petty things.
  • When ready to go - hoping to come back in one piece but prepared for the possibility that they might not. Let us live today that same way.

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  • Perhaps wisdom and happiness are like winning a medal in the Olympics. It doesn't matter whether you won just once or in multiple events, a hundred years before or just now and it doesn't matter whether you never compete again. You'll always be a medalist, and you'll always know what it feels like. No one can take that away - and it would be impossible to feel more of that feeling.
  • Perhaps today will be the day we experience happiness or wisdom. Don't try to grab or hold on to it. Enjoy it, recognize it and remember it. Having it for a moment is the same as having it forever.

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"If the breaking day sees someone proud, the ending day sees them brought low.

No one should put too much trust in triumph, No one should give up hope of trails improving.

God mixes one with the other and stops fortune from resting, spinning every fate around.

No one has has so much divine favor that they could guarantee themselves tomorrow.

God keeps our lives hurtling on, spinning in a whirlwind"-Seneca

  • No amount of prosperity, no amount of difficulty, is certain or forever. A triumph becomes a trial, a trail becomes a triumph. Life can change in an instant. Remember, how often it does today.

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"Being unexpected adds to the weight of a disaster, and being a surprise has never failed to increase a person's pain. For that reason, nothing should ever be unexpected by us. Our minds should be sent out in advance to all things and we shouldn't just consider the normal course of things, but what could actually happen. For is there anything in life that Fortune won't knock off its high horse if it pleases her?" - Seneca

We must prepare in our minds for the possibility of extreme reversals of fate. The next time you make a charity donation, consider that one day you may need charity yourself.

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  • Watching other people succeed is one of the toughest things to do - especially if we are not doing well ourselves. In our hunter-gatherer minds, we suspect that life is a zero-sum game - that for someone to have more, means that we might end up less.
  • But like all parts of philosophy, empathy and selflessness are a matter of practice. The stoics teach themselves to actively cheer for other people - even in cases where that might come at their own expense - and to put aside jealousy and possessivess. You can do that too.

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  • Self-improvement is a noble pursuit. Most people don't even bother. But among those who do, it's possible for vanity and superficiality to corrupt this process.
  • Our will shouldn't be directed at becoming the person who is in perfect shape or who can speak multiple languages but who doesn't have a second for other people. What's the point of winning at sports but losing in the effort to be a good husband, wife, father, mother, son, or daughter? Let's not confuse getting better at stuff with being a better person. One is a much bigger priority than the other.

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"That which isn't good for the hive, isn't good for the bee. That which doesn't harm the community can't harm the individual." - Marcus Aurelius

Just because something is bad for you doesn't mean it's bad for everyone. Just because something is good for you definitely doesn't mean it's good for everyone.

A good stoic understands that proper impulses, and the right actions that arise from them, naturally carry the good of the whole, which is the wise person's only good. Conversely, good and wise actions by the whole are what's good for the individual.

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  • Rubin Carter, the boxér was wrongly convicted of homicide and spent nearly 20 years in prison. He would say, "I don't acknowledge the existence of the prison. It doesn't exist for me." Of course the prison existed, and he was inside it. But he refused to let his mind be contained by it.
  • That's the power that you have too, in the midst of any and every kind of adversity, it is there. No matter what's happening to your body, no matter what the outside world inflicts on you, your mind can remain philosophical. It's still yours. It's untouchable - and in a way, then, so are you.

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  • The mind freed from passions is an impenetrable fortress - a person has no more secure place of refuge for all time. When we repeat an action so often it becomes unconscious behaviour, we can default to it without thinking.
  • Proper training can change your default habits. Train yourself not to get angry, and you won't be angry for minor reasons often. Train yourself on any habit, and you'll be able to unconsciously go to that habit in trying times.
  • Think about which behavior you'd like to be able to default to if you could. How many of them have you practised only once? Let today be twice.

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"There is no reason to live and no limit to our miseries if we let our fears predominant." - Seneca

"Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." - Roosevelt

The stoics knew fear was to be feared because of the miseries it creates. A tough situation isn't helped by terror - it only makes things harder. That's why we must resist it and reject it, if we wish to turn this situation around.

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  • Remember, the proper direction of philosophy - of all the things we're doing here - is focused inward. To make ourselves better and to leave other people to that task for themselves and their own journey. Our faults are in our control, and so we turn to philosophy to help scrape them off like barnacles from the hull of a ship. Other people's faults? Not so much. That's for them to do.
  • Leave people to their faults. Nothing in Stoic philosophy empowers you to judge them - only to accept them. Especially when we have so many of our own.

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"Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow if you will keep digging." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Today, we could hope that goodness comes our way - good news, good weather, good luck. Or we could find it ourselves, in ourselves. Goodness isn't something that's going to be delivered by mail. You have to dig it up inside your own soul. You find it within your own thoughts, and you make it with your own actions.

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"We are like pellets of incense falling on the altar. Some collapse sooner, others later, but it makes no difference."-Marcus Aurelius

  • Measuring ourselves against others makes acceptance difficult, because we want what they have, not what we happen to have. But that makes no difference.
  • Some might see this line from Marcus as pessimistic, whereas others see it as optimistic. It's really just truth. We're all here and we're all going to leave this earth eventually, so let's not concern ourselves with petty differences in the meantime. We have too much to do.

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  • At any moment, we may be toppled from our perch and made to do with less - less money, less recognition, less access, less resources. Even the "less-es" that come with age: less mobility, less energy, less freedom. But we can prepare for that, in some way by familiarizing ourselves with what that might feel like.
  • One way to protect yourself from the swings of fate - and from the emotional vertigo that can result - is by living within your means now. So today, we can try to get used to having and surviving on less so that if we are ever forced to have less, it would not be so bad.

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  • The guiding reason of the world - the Stoics called this the logos - works in mysterious ways.
  • There is a helpful analogy to explain the logos. We are like a dog leashed to a moving cart. The direction of the cart will determine where we go. Depending on the length of the leash, we also have a fair amount of room to explore and determine the pace, but ultimately what each of us must choose is whether we will go willingly or be painfully dragged. Which will it be?
  • Cheerful acceptance? Or ignorant refusal? In the end, they amount to the same.

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  • It's something to think about when you consider whom to work with and whom to do business with in life. If you provide a bad example or something illegal or unethical advice to your employees, associates, or your children, might they betray you or hurt you down the road? What goes around comes around, is the saying. Karma is a notion we have imported from the East, along similar lines.
  • Seneca paid a price for his instructions to Nero. As has been throughout the ages, his hypocrisy - avoidable or not - was costly. So too will be yours.

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"Meditate often on the swiftness with which all that exists and is coming into being is swept and carried away. For substance is like river's unending flow, its activities continually changing and causes infinitely shifting so that almost nothing stands still." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Life is a contant state of change. To get upset by things is to wrongly assume that they will last. To blame ourselves or others is grabbing at the wind. To resent change is to wrongly assume that you have a choice in the matter.
  • Everything is change. Embrace that. Flow with it.

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  • Whenever you suffer pain, keep in mind that it's nothing to be ashamed of and that it can't degrade your guiding intelligence, nor keep it from acting rationally and for the common good.
  • By the saying of Epicurus, that pain is never unbearable or unending, so you can remember these limits and not add to them in your imagination.
  • Remember too that many common annoyances are pain in disguise, such as sleeplessness, fever and loss of appetite. When they start to get you down, tell yourself you are giving in to pain.

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"Just as we commonly hear people say the doctor prescribed some particular exercises, or ice baths, we should in the same way say that nature prescribed someone to be diseased, or disabled, or suffer any impairment. Incase of the doctor, something is ordered to help aid someone's healing. But in the case of nature, what happens to each of us is ordered to help aid our destiny" - Marcus

  • When external events set in, we fight like hell if anything happens contrary to our plans. What if this was as good for us, as a medicine the doctor would've prescribed as part of our treatment? 
  • Well, what if? 

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  • Stoicism is not a religion. You're not obligated to save anyone - there's no risk of hell if a soul remains ignorant to the Stoic philosophy.
  • But now that you've learned a better path, you can be of service to others. You can share your wisdom or insight with a friend or stranger - remembering that behaviour is always a better example than a lecture.
  • Everyone deserves to benefit from "philosophy's principles" as Seneca put it. If you see someone who is in need of help, or has asked for guidance, provide it. You owe them that much.

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  • At 5'-3" tall, Muggsy Bogues was the shortest player to play professional basketball. Against all odds, he succeeded. He saw his height as his strength when others saw it as his weakness. In fact, small size has many advantages: speed and quickness, ability to steal the ball from unsuspecting players, to say nothing of the fact that players just underestimated him.
  • Could this approach not be useful in your life? What things do you think have been holding you back that, in fact, can be a hidden source of strength?

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"He was sent to prison. But the observation 'he has suffered evil', is an addition coming from you" - Epictetus

  • This is classic Stoic thinking, as you've gathered by now. An event itself is objective. How we describe it - that it was unfair, or it's a great calamity - is on us. Malcolm X went into prison a criminal, but he left as an educated, religious, and motivated man who would help in the struggle for civil rights. Did he suffer an evil? Or did he choose to make his experience a positive one?

Acceptance isn't passive. It's the first step in an active process toward self-improvement.

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  • Won't you be walking in your predecessor's footsteps? The ones who pioneered these paths aren't our masters, but our guides.
  • Traditions are often time-tested best practices for doing something. But remember, today's conservative ideas were once controversial.
  • Perhaps we have a breakthrough of our own. If these ideas are true and better, embrace them - use them. You don't need to be a prisoner of dead old men who stopped learning two thousand years ago!

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Whatever our case is today, let's align our minds along these four critical habits:

  1. Accept only what is true.
  2. Work for the common good.
  3. Match our needs and wants with what is in our control.
  4. Embrace what nature has in store for us.

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  • No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don't have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.
  • John D. Rockefeller believed that "a man's wealth must be determined by the relation of his desires and expenditures to his income. If he feels rich on $10 and has everything he desires, he really is rich."
  • Today, you could try to increase your wealth, or you could take a shortcut and just want less.

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  • Heraclitus would shed tears whenever he went out in public - Democritus laughed. One saw the whole as a paradise of miseries, the other of follies. And so, we should take a lighter view of things and bear them with an easy spirit, for it is more human to laugh at life than to lament it.
  • Like Democritus, we can make that same choice. There is more humor than hate to be found in just about every situation. And at least humor is productive - making things less heavy, not more so.

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  • This can be swiftly taught in very few words: virtue is the only good; there is no certain good without virtue; and virtue resides in our nobler part.
  • And what this virtue can be? True and steadfast judgement. For from this will arise every mental impulse, and by it every appearance that spurs our impulses will be rendered clear.
  • You become the sum of your actions, and as you do, what flows from that - your impulses - reflect the actions you've taken. Choose wisely!

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"Don't trust in your reputation, or position, but in the strength that is yours - namely, your judgements about the things that you control and don't control. For this alone is what makes us free and unfettered, that picks us up by the neck from the depths and lifts us eye to eye with the rich and powerful." - Seneca

  • Once Alexander's way was blocked by a philosopher. "This man has conquered the world. What have you done?" asked one of his men. The philosopher replied, "I have conquered the need to conquer the world".
  • This just means focusing inward on acquiring power rather than outward.

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"When you are distressed by an external thing, it's not the thing that troubles you, but only your judgment of it" - Aurelius

  • Franklin Roosevelt, widely regarded as one of America's greatest leaders, at middle age was diagnosed with polio after spending years preparing for presidency.
  • The "external thing" was that he was crippled - this was a literal fact - but his judgement if it was that it did not cripple his career or personhood. Though he was the victim of a then incurable disease, he wiped away - almost immediately - the victim's mentality.
  • Let's not confuse acceptance with passivity.

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  • According to Seneca, philosophy shouldn't have to accept what time or energy is left over from other occupations but instead we should graciously make time for those other pursuits only once our study is finished.
  • If real self-improvement is what we're after we why do we leave our reading until those few minutes before we shut off the lights and go to bed? Why do we block 8 to 10 hours to stay at office, but block out no time for thinking about the big questions? The average person manages to squeeze in 28 hours of television per week-but if asked about philosophy they'll say they're too busy.

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  • When a bad habit reveals itself, counteract it with a commitment to a contrary virtue. For instance, let's say you find yourself procrastinating today - don't dig in and fight it. Get up and take a walk to clear you head and reset instead.
  • Oppose established habits, and use the counterforce of training to get traction and make progress. If you find yourself cutting corners during a workout or on a project, say to yourself: "OK, now I am going to go even further or do even better."
  • Good habits have the power to drive out bad habits. And habits are easy to pick up - as we all know.

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  • Is the ship of Theseus the same ship after every wooden plank of it is replaced or is it a new one?
  • In Japan a Shinto shrine is rebuilt every 23 years. Is it one shrine, 1400 years old? Or sixty consecutive shrines?
  • Our understanding of what something is, is just a snapshot - an ephemeral opinion. The universe is in a constant state of change. Our nails grow and are cut and keep growing. New skin replaces dead skin. Old memories are replaced by new. Are we still the same people? Are the people around us the same? Nothing is exempt from this fluidity, not even the things we hold most sacred.

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  • Since the vast majority of our words & actions are unnecessary, confining them will create an abundance of leisure & tranquility. We must also confine unnecessary thoughts, too, so needless acts don't tag along after them.
  • What vanity obligates us to do, what greed signs us up for, what ill discipline adds to our plate, what a lack of courage prevents us from saying no to. All of this we must cut, cut, cut.

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Pragmatic and Principled - Day 1

Wherever a person can live, there one can also live well;

  • Abraham Lincoln is the most renowned politician of his time. Even at a profession like that, he was able to be compassionate, humble, open-minded and purposeful.
  • Principles and pragmatism are not at odds. Whether you live in the white house or in a jail or in a closed-minded small town, you can live well if you choose to. Plenty of other have! It's your principles that govern your way of life.

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"Let each thing you do, say or intend be like that if a dying person." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Here's the thing: you already have a terminal diagnosis. We all do. As the writer Edmund Wilson put it, "Death is one prophecy that never fails." Every person is born with a death sentence. Each second that passes by is one you'll never get back.
  • Once you realize this, it will have a profound impact on what you do, say, and think. Don't let another day tick away in ignorance of the reality that you're a dying person. We all are. Can today be the day we stop pretending otherwise?

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  • At a Roman triumph, everyone would keep praising the victorious general. Only a few would notice the aide whispering into his ear, "Remember, thou art mortal." What a reminder at the peak of glory.
  • In our lives we can train to be that whisper. When there is something or someone we love, whisper that it is fragile and mortal. No matter how strong something feels, it never is. We must remind ourselves that it can break, die and leave us.
  • Loss is one of our deepest fears. Ignorance and pretending don't make things any better. They just mean the loss will be all the more jarring when it occurs.

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  • Remember, then, if you deem what is by nature slavish to be free, and what is not your own to be yours, you will be shackled and miserable, blaming both gods and other people.
  • But if you deem as your own only what is yours, and what belongs to others as truly not yours, then no one will ever be able to coerce or to stop you, you will find no one to blame or accuse you, you will do nothing against your will, you will have no enemy, no one will harm you, because no harm can affect you.

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"The person who does wrong, does wrong to themselves - making themselves evil" - Marcus Aurelius

  • The next time you do something wrong, try to remember how it made you feel. Rarely does one say, "I felt great!"
  • We feel a version of sickness when we lie, when we cheat and when we screw someone over. In that split second before your ill-gotten gains kick in, ask: How do I feel about myself?
  • Self-awareness and wrongdoing rarely go together. If you need a selfish reason to not do wrong - put yourself in touch with these feelings. They're a powerful disincentive.

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  • Alexandria, the city in Egypt, still bears the name of its founder, Alexander the Great. How cool it would feel to have a city named after you?
  • Here's a thought: it wouldn't be cool. Because like Alexander, you'll be dead. You'll have no idea whether your name lasted down through centuries.
  • Instead of wasting even a second considering opinions of future people - focus every bit of yourself on being the best person you can be in the present moment. On doing the right thing, right now. The distant future is irrelevant. Be good and noble and impressive now - while it still matters.

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"Don't lament this and don't get agitated." - Marcus Aurelius 

  • There's that feeling we get when something happens. It's all over now. All is lost. What follows are complaints and pity and misery - the impotent struggle against something that's already occurred. Why bother? We have no idea what the future holds. We have no idea what's coming up around the bend. It could be more problems, or this could be the darkness before the dawn. 
  • If we're Stoic, there is one thing we can be sure of: whatever happens, we're going to be OK. 

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Try praying differently, and see what happens: instead of a 'way to get rid of him,' try asking for 'a way to not crave his demise.'

  • Prayer has a religious connotation, but in life we all find ourselves hoping and asking for things.
  • We want divine intervention so that our lives will magically be easier. But what about asking for fortitude and strength so you can do what you need to do? What if you sought clarity on what you do control, what is already within your power? You might find your prayers have already been answered.

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Stick with just the facts - Day 3

Don't tell yourself anything more than what the initial impressions report.

  • It's been reported to you that someone is speaking badly about you. This is the report - the report wasn't that you've been harmed. I see that my son is sick - but not that his life is at risk.
  • So always stay within your first impressions, and don't add to them in your head - this way nothing can happen to you.
  • As Nietzsche put it, "to stop courageously at the surface" and see things in plain objective form.

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  • Today, see if u can go without blaming a single person or thing. Someone messed up your instructions - it's on you for expecting anything different. Your stock portfolio takes a big loss - what did you expect making such a big bet?
  • Whatever it is, however bad it may be, see whether you can make it a whole day laying it all in your reasoned choice.
  • Start where u need to. Even 1 minute without playing the blame game is progress in the art of living.

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"But I haven't at any time been hindered in my will, nor forced against it. And how is this possible? I have bound up my choice to act with the will of God. God wills that I be sick, such is my will. He wills that I should choose something, so do I. He will that I reach for something, or something be given to me-I wish for the same. What God doesn't will, I do not wish for." - Epictetus

  • And so it goes will all our ventures. No matter how much preparation, how skilled or smart we are, the ultimate outcome is with God or fate or luck or whatever you want to call it. The sooner we know the better.

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  • Philosophy isn't a parlor trick or made for show. It's concerned with facts that shapes and builds up the soul, gives order to life, guides action, shows what should and shouldn't be done - it sits at the rudder steering our course as we cruise through uncertainties.
  • The idea of idly discussing some issue - of believing or arguing two contradictory ideas - is an absurd waste of time, energy and belief. Philosophy is not a fun trick. It's for use - for life.

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"Hecato says, 'I can teach you a love potion made without any drugs, herbs or special spell - if you would be loved, love." - Seneca

  • Love. Love. Love. Why? Because, as the Beatles put it, "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Not just in politics, not just in tolerance, but in our personal lives.
  • There is almost no situation in which hatred helps. Yet almost every situation is made better by love - or empathy, understanding, appreciation - even situations in which you are in opposition to someone.
  • And who knows, you might just get some of that love back.

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No one does wrong on purpose.

  • The clearest proof of that hypothesis? All the time we did wrong without malice or intention. Remember them? The rude behaviour because we haven't spelt in two days. The time you acted on bad information, got carried away, forgot, didn't understand. The list goes on and on.
  • This is why it is important not to brand off people as enemies. Be as forgiving of them as you are of yourself. It may work wonders in your relationships.

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Start where the world is - Day 2

Do now what nature demands of you. Get right to it if that's in your power. Don't wait for the perfect timing.

  • There is plenty that you could do right now, today, plenty of small steps, were you to take them, would help move things forward.
  • Don't excuse yourself from doing them because the conditions aren't right or because a better opportunity might come along soon. Do what you can, now!
  • And when you've done it, don't overblow the results and always keep it in perspective. Shun both excuse and ego, before and after.

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  • The way we nervously worry about some looming bad news is strange. By definition, the waiting means it hasn't happened yet so that feeling bad in advance is totally voluntary.
  • The pragmatist, is too busy to waste time on such silliness. Think about it. Best case scenario - if the news turns out better than expected, all this time wasted in fear. Worst case scenario - we were miserable for extra time, by choice.
  • Let the news come in when it does. Be too busy working to care.

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  • The first person you meet today - passing acquaintance or friend - no matter the context - positive or negative - is an opportunity for kindness. For both of you. You can seek to understand who they are, and what forces might be acting on them. And you can treat them well and be better off for it.
  • The same is true with the second person you encounter, and the third. Of course, there is no guarantee that they will return the favor, but that's not our concern. As always, we're going to focus on what we control: in this case, the ability to choose to respond with kindness.

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  • The person sitting next to you on the plane, the one who is loudly chattering and knocking around in your space? In these situations, you might feel it takes everything you have to restrain yourself from murdering them.
  • It's funny how that thought comes into our heads before, you know, politely asking them to stop, or making a minor scene of asking for a different seat. We don't just want people to be better, we expect it to magically happen, that we can simply will other people to change, with our angry stare.
  • Although when you think about it, it makes you wonder who the rude one actually is.

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"Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue." - Zeno

  • You can always get up after you fall, but remember, what has been said can never be unsaid. Especially cruel and hurtful things.
  • So it's always better to think twice before you say something which makes you regret a lifetime. Cruel words are like double-edged swords. It's going to hurt both sides. Choose wisely.

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You've endured countless troubles - it's enough already!

  • How many things you fear have actually come to pass? How many times had anxiety, jealousy or frustration lead you down a bad road?
  • Letting our reason rule the day might seem like more work, but it saves us quite a bit of trouble. Your brain was designed to do this work - to separate what is important from what is senseless, to keep things in perspective. You only need to put it to use.

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  • It's easy to blame our circumstances. One person curses that they weren't born taller, another that they're not smarter, with a different complexion, or born in a different country. It'd be hard to find a single person - who doesn't think they're deficient in atleast some way.
  • But there are positive qualities that you can develop that don't depend on genetic accents. You have the choice to, be truthful, dignified, endure, be happy, be free, avoid trafficking in gossip, be gracious.
  • And honestly, aren't the traits that are the result of effort and skill more impressive anyway?

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  • It can be beneficial to reflect on what you used to accept as normal! Consider your first paycheck - how big it seemed then. Today, as you've become more successful, these conditions would hardly feel sufficient. In fact, you want even more than what you have now. Yet a few years ago those small you had, they felt great.
  • Remember today that you'd be okay if things suddenly went wrong. Your actual needs are small. There is very little that could happen that can truly threaten your survival. Think about that - and adjust your worries and fears accordingly.

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  • A sign on President Truman's desk read, THE BUCK STOPS HERE. As president, he knew that good or bad, there wasn't anyone he could blame for stuff other than himself.
  • As president of our own lives - and knowing that our powers begin and end with our reasoned choice - we would do well to internalize this same attitude. We don't control things outside that sphere, but we do control our attitudes and our responses to those events - and that's plenty. It's enough that we go into each and every day knowing that there is no one to pass the buck to. It ends with us.

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"Leave the past behind, let the grand design take care of the future, and instead only rightly guide the present to révérence and justice. Révérence so that you'll love what you've been allotted, for nature brought you both to each other. Justice so that you'll speak the truth freely and without evasion, and so that you'll act only as the law and value of things require." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Two words for life: persist and resist. But what principles should determine what we persist in and what we ought to resist? Marcus supplies that answer: reverence and justice. In other words, virtue.

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"If someone is slipping up, kindly correct them and point out what they missed. But if you can't, blame yourself-or no one." - Marcus

  • To be able to see that if a friend is unreliable, maybe it's because they don't know what's wrong or because we haven't tried to help them fix their flaw. If an employee is underperforming, just talk to them to figure out if they lack any support. If someone is being annoying, try talking to them about the problem with their behavior, or ask yourself: Why am I being so sensitive?
  • And if this doesn't work, try letting it go. It might be an isolated incident anyway.

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  • Turn your mind away from the things that provoke it. If you find discussing politics at home leads to fighting or your siblings choices bother you, why don't you stop making these choices your concern?
  • It's not a sign of weakness to shut them out. Instead, it's a sign of strong will. Try saying, "I know the reaction I typically take in these situations, and I'm not going to do it this time." and then follow it with: "I'm also going to remove this stimulus from my life in the future as well."
  • Because what follows is peace and serenity.

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  • When you set your mind to a task, do you always follow through? It's good if you do. But don't let yourself become a prisoner of that kind of determination.
  • Conditions change. New facts come in. Circumstances arise. If you can't adapt to them - if you simply proceed forward without adjusting to this new information - you are no better than a robot. The point is not to have an iron will, but an adaptable will.
  • It's not weak to change and adapt. Flexibility is it's own kind of strength. In fact, this flexibility combined with strength is what will make us resilient and unstoppable.

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We go through our days responding and reacting, but it's better to really pause and ask: Is this the kind of thing the person I would like to be should do?

The work of living is to set standards and then not compromise them. When you're brushing your teeth, choosing your friends, losing your temper, instructing your child, or walking your dog - all of these are opportunities.

Now I want to do good - that's an excuse. But I will do good in this particular instance, right now. Set a standard; hold fast to it. That's all there is.

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  • In the hiring process, most employers look what jobs the candidates have held in the past. This is because past success can be an indicator of future success. But is it always?
  • Of course not. This is why character is a far better measure of a man or woman. Not just for jobs, but for friendships, relationships, for everything. Heraclitus put it as a maxim: "Character is fate."
  • When you seek to advance your own position in life, character is the best lever - perhaps not in the short term, but certainly over the long term. And the same goes for the people you invite in your life.

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  • After all you've read, it night be tempting to think: This stuff is great. I get it. I'm a Stoic. But it's not that easy. Just because you agree with the philosophy doesn't mean the roots have fully taken hold in your mind.
  • Fooling with books so you can sound smart or have an intimidating library is like tending a garden to impress your neighbours. The seeds of Stoicism are long underground. Do the work required to nurture and tend to them. So that they - and you - are prepared and sturdy for the hard winters of life.

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Robert Caro has written that "power doesn't corrupt, it reveals." In some ways, prosperity - financial and personal - is the same way.

  • If your mind has developed a certain cast - the habit of panicking, then it won't matter how good things get for you. You're still primed for panic. Your mind will still finds things to worry about, and you'll still be miserable.
  • That's why it's foolish to hope for a good fortune. If you were to hope for one thing, you could hope for the strength of character that's able to thrive in good fortune. Or better, work for that kind of character and confidence.

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"But the wise person can lose nothing. Such a person has everything stored up for themselves because they invest well" - Seneca

  • Some people put their money in assets - stocks, bonds, property. Others invest in relationships or accomplishments, knowing that they can draw on these things just as easily as others can draw funds from a bank account. But a third type, Seneca says, invests in themselves - in being a good and wise person.
  • Which of these assets is most immune to market fluctuations and disasters? Which is most resilient during trials and tribulations? Which will never abandon you?

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Inwardly, we ought to be different in every respect, but our outward appearance should blend in with the crowd.

  • Diogenes the cynic was a controversial philosopher who wandered the streets like a homeless person. It's tempting to take philosophy to the extremes, but who does it serve?
  • Outward transformation - in our clothes, cars and in our grooming - might feel important but it's superficial compared with the inward change. That's the change that only we know about!

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  • You have two essential tasks in life: to be a good person and to pursue the occupation that you love. Everything else is a waste of energy.
  • How does one do that? Stoics makes it simple enough: say no to distractions, to destructive emotions, to outside pressure. Ask yourself: What is it that only I can do? Try to do the right thing when situation calls for it. Treat other people the way you would hope to be treated. And understand that every small choice and tiny matter is an opportunity to practice these principles.
  • That's it. That's what goes into the most important skill of all: how to live

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"Don't allow yourself to be heard any longer griping about public life, not even with your own ears!" - Marcus Aurelius

  • It calls to mind a motto of British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli: "Never complain, never explain." He said this because, like Marcus, he knew that the burdens of responsibility were immense. It's so easy to complain about this or that, or to try to make excuses and justifications for the things you've done. But that doesn't accomplish anything - and it never lightens the load.

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"Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe. For in a sense, all things are mutually woven together and therefore have an affinity for each other - for one thing follows after another according to their tension of movement, their sympathetic stirrings, and the unity of all substance." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Over and over again, the stoics reminded themselves of the interconnectedness in life. Today, take a moment to remember that we are woven together and that each of us plays a role (good, bad and or ugly) in this world.

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"I'll never be ashamed to quote a bad writer with good saying." - Seneca

  • Seneca was looking for wisdom, period. It didn't matter where it came from. This is something a lot of people seem to miss. Who cares whether some bit of wisdom is from a stoic, epicurean or anyone? What matters is whether it makes your life better.
  • What wisdom or help would you be able to find today if you stopped caring about affiliations and reputations? How much more could you see if you just focused on merit?

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  • We're going to get caught off guard from time to time. Not just by a terrorist attack or a financial panic - but also minor, unexpected occurrences. Your car battery dies, you don't feel well suddenly. These situations may throw us into confusion and disarray.
  • That's perfectly OK! It happens. A line of infantry men will face withering attacks. Musicians will experience technical difficulties. It just matters that they get into position as fast as possible.
  • The same is true for you today. The order and peace might be interrupted by a new scenario. Get a hold of yourself and find your way back.

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  • Stories about lottery winners tend to share one lesson: suddenly coming into a great deal of money is a curse, not a blessing. In just a few years, many lottery winners are actually in worse financial shape. They've lost friends, got divorced, and their lives have turned into a nightmare as a result of their good fortune.
  • And yet the most common response from a cancer survivor, the person who went through the thing we all dread and fear? "It was the best thing that ever happened to me."
  • Funny how that works out, isn't it?

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  • Dancing is a popular metophor for life. One must go along with the music, feel and follow and flow with the partner. But the fact is nobody ever gets up on stage and tries to tackle a dancer. The dancer never gets choked out by a rival.
  • For a wrestler, on the other hand, adversity and the unexpected are part and parcel of what they do. Their sport is battle, just like life. They are fighting their opponent as well as their own limitations, emotions, etc.
  • Life, like wrestling, requires more than graceful movement. We have to undergo hard training and cultivate an indomitable will to prevail.

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  • One of the striking things about history is just how long human beings have been doing what they do - living, dying, loving, fighting, crying and laughing. 
  • Popular books perpetuate the belief that, things are really different now. This irony is that people have believed that for centuries. 
  • Strong people resist this notion. They know, things are the same as they've always been and always will be. You're just like the people who came before you, and you're but a brief stopover until the people just like you who will come after. The earth abides forever, but we will come and go. 

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  • Have you ever been to physical rehab? It's not a fun place to be. It turns out that healing hurts. The experts know where to exert pressure so that they can strengthen where the patient is weak and help stimulate the areas that have atrophied.
  • Stoic philosophy is a lot like that. Some exercises will touch one of your pressure points. It's nothing personal. It's supposed to hurt. That's how you'll develop the will to endure and persevere through life's many difficulties.

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  • Epictetus shows us the themes of tolerance and acceptance. Cleanthes and Euripides evoke destiny and fate as concepts that help ease acceptance. When one has a belief in a greater power, then there is no such thing as an event going contrary to plan.
  • What happens to us can seem random or upsetting, when in fact these events make perfect sense when our perspective is zoomed out, even just slightly.
  • Let's practice this today. Pretend that each event - whether desired or unexpected - was willed to happen, willed specifically for you. You wouldn't fight that much would you?

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"Doesn't the light of a lamp shine and keep its glow until its fuel is spent? Why shouldn't your truth, justice, and self-control shine until you are extinguished?" - Marcus Aurelius

Seneca writes that, "we mortals are lighted and extinguished." Whether the wick of your lamp is being lit for the first time, after a long period of darkness, or even right before the proverbial big sleep, it makes no difference.

Here is where you are right now, and it's as good a place as any to let virtue shine and continue to shine for as long as you exist.

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  • A Zen master who had a beautiful cup would repeat to himself, "The glass is already broken." He enjoyed the cup and used it, but in his mind it was already broken. And so one day when it actually did break, he said, "Of course."
  • Devastation - that feeling of shock - is a factor of how unlikely we considered the event. No one is wrecked by the fact that it's snowing in the winter, because we've accepted (and even anticipated) this turn of events. What about the occurrences that surprise us? We might not be so shocked if we took the time to consider their possibility.

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  • It's most easy to prove that so-called pleasures, when they go beyond proper measure, are but punishments.
  • Stoics don't say, "Stop doing this, it's a sin." Instead they say, "Don't do this because it will make you miserable. They don't say," Pleasure isn't pleasurable." They say," Endless pleasure becomes it's own form of punishment."
  • Its not that this or that is bad, it's that it is in their best interest to do it in a different way.

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  • "Hard winter training" is the notion that there is no such thing as part-time soldering (or part time anything for that matter). In order to achieve victory, one must dedicate every second into preparation and training.
  • The same is true for us. We can't do this life half heartedly. There's no time off. There aren't even weekends. We are always preparing for what life might throw at us - and when it does, we're ready and don't stop until we've handled it.

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  • I was shipwrecked before I even boarded... the journey showed me this - how much of what we have is unnecessary, and how easily we can decide to rid ourselves of these things whenever it's necessary, never suffering the loss. - Seneca
  • The stoics weren't being hypothetical when they said we ought to ACT with a reverse clause and that even the most unfortunate events can turn out to be for the best. The entire philosophy is founded on that idea!

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  • It is essential for you to remember that the attention you give to any action should be in due proportion to it's worth, for then you won't tire and give up.
  • If you give things more time and energy than they deserve, they're no longer lesser things. You've made them important by the life you've spent on them.
  • And sadly, you've made the important things - your family, your health, your true commitments - less so as a result of what you've stolen from them.

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  • Let's say someone has treated you rudely. It's natural to think: Oh that's how the world works, or One day it will be my turn to be like that.
  • But the proper response - indeed the best revenge - is to exact no revenge at all. If you meet other people's dishonesty with dishonesty of your own, guess what? You're proving them right - now everyone is a liar.
  • Instead, today, let's seek to be better than the things that disappoint or hurt us. It's awful to cheat, to be selfish, to feel the need to inflict pain on our fellow beings. Meanwhile, living morally and well is quite nice.

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  • Hope is generally regarded as good. Fear is generally regarded as bad. To a Stoic, they are the same - both are projections into the future about things we do not control. Both are enemy of this present moment that you are actually in. Both mean you're living a life in opposition to amor fati.
  • It's not about overcoming our fears but understanding that both hope and fear contain a dangerous amount of want and worry in them. And, sadly, the want is what causes the worry.

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  • The stoics give us a marvelous concept: the Inner Citadel. It is this fortress, they believed, that protects our soul. Though we might be physically vulnerable, our inner domain is impenetrable.
  • But history teaches us that impenetrable fortress can still be breached, if betrayed from the inside. The citizen inside the walls - if they fall prey to fear or greed - can open the gates and let the enemy in.
  • This is what many of us do when we lose our nerve and give in to fear. You've been granted a strong fortress. Don't betray it.

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  • A virtuous person does not jump to hasty judgements about other people. A virtuous person is generous with assumptions: that something was an accident, that someone didn't know, that it won't happen again. This makes life easier to bear and makes us more tolerant. Meanwhile, assuming malice - the most hasty of judgements - makes everything harder to bear. 
  • Be deliberate and accommodating with your assumptions about other people and you'll find, as Marcus says, calmer dead and fairer weather. 

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No Time For Theories, just Results - Day 5

When the problem arose for us whether habit or theory was better for getting virtue - Musonius thought habit to be more effective.

  • There is no time to chop logic over whether our theories are correct. We are dealing with the real world here. What matters is how you're going to deal with this situation right in front of you and whether you're going to able to move past it.
  • Although theories are clean and simple, situations rarely are!

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  • What's the meaning of life? Most of us struggle with this question. Rarely do we find much in the way of direction. But that's because we miss the point. As Viktor Frankl points out, it is not our question to ask. Instead, it is we who are being asked the question. It's our lives that are the answer.
  • No amount of travel or reading or clever sages can tell you what you want to know. Instead, it is you who must find the answer in your actions, in living the good life - by embodying the self-evident principles of justice, self-control, courage, freedom, and abstaining from evil.

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  • The notion of original sin has weighed down humankind for centuries. In reality, we're made to be good to each other.
  • You were born good. All of us have been made by nature, so that we can live free from error and nobly - not that one can and another can't, but all. You were born with an attraction to virtue & self-mastery. If you've gotten far from that, it's not out of some inborn corruption but from a nurturing of the wrong things and ideas. As Seneca has pointed out, philosophy is a tool to strip it all away - to get back to our true nature.

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  • The founder of the universe, who assigned us to the laws of life, provided that we should live well, but not in luxury. Everything needed for our well-being is right before us, whereas what luxuries requires is gathered by many miseries and anxieties. This is the pragmatic instead of the moralistic approach to wealth.
  • There is no rule that says financial success must mean that you live beyond your means. Remember: humans can be happy with very little.

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"Yes getting your wish would have been so nice. But isn't that exactly why pleasure trips us up? Instead, see if these things might be even nicer - a great soul, freedom and honesty, kindness, saintliness." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Marcus reminds us that pleasure hardly stand up to virtue. The dopamine rush from sex is momentary. So is the pride of an accomplishment or a hearty applause from a crowd. These pleasures are powerful, but they wear off and leaving us wanting more.
  • What lasts longer (and remains more within our control)? Wisdom, good character, sobriety, and kindness.

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  • We could look at the upcoming day and despair at all the things we don't control: other people, our health, the outcome of a project once it leaves our hands.
  • Or we could look out at that very same day and rejoice at the one thing we do control: the ability to decide what any event means.
  • The second option offers the ultimate power-a true and fair form of control. While you don't control external events, you retain the ability to decide how you respond to those events.
  • This includes the difficult one in front of you now. You'll find, if you approach it right, that this trump card is plenty.

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  • When people say change is good, they're usually trying to reassure themselves. Because instinctively we view change as bad - or at least we're suspicious of it.
  • The Stoics want you to do away with those labels altogether. Change isn't good. The status quo isn't bad. They just are.
  • Remember, events are objective. It's only our opinion that says something is good or bad (and thus worth fighting against or fighting for). A better attitude? To decide to make most of everything. But to do that you must first cease fighting.

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RELATED IDEA

“Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only they truly live. Not

satisfied to merely keep good watch over their own days, they annex every age to their own. All

the harvest of the past is added to their store. Only an ingrate would fail to see that these great

architects of venerable thoughts were born for us and have designed a way of life for us.”

—SENECA

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The Real Source of Harm

The Stoics remind us that there really is no such thing as an objectively good or bad occurrence. Situations require our participation, context and categorization in order to be "bad".

Our reaction is what actually decides whether harm has occurred. If we raise our voice because we feel we’re being confronted, naturally a confrontation will ensue.

But if we retain control of ourselves, we decide whether to label something good or bad.

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Stoicism

Stoicism, a 3rd-century philosophy from Athens and later Rome,  is a pragmatic, realistic and practical way of addressing life's problems.

Whether we are overworked, stressed, or struggling with our lives, we all can take help from the principles of stoicism.

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