Life as a narrow bridge
"The world is a narrow bridge and the important thing is to not be afraid" - Hebrew prayer.
The world we live in is uncertain and full of risks and it's easy to get scared and look down instead of looking forward. But if you peer over to the side of the bridge, you lose the motivation to continue, you freeze up and stop making good decisions.
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Don't let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don't try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, “Why is this so unbearable? Why can't I endure it?" You'll be embarrassed to answer.
"It's not that astronauts are braver than other people. We're just meticulously prepared."
There is no problem so bad that you can't make it worse.
And that's the difference between being scared and being afraid - the latter prevents you from improving your situations and it may even make things worse.
Astronauts face all kinds of difficult, very risky situations in space. And the margin for error is extremely tiny in those situations.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield says that the key in these difficult situations is to remind yourself that there are things you can to make the situation better.
What does help in a situation in which you are scared: training, courage, discipline, commitment and calm.
From all of the above, courage is held by the stoics as the most essential virtue.
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed effort to convert retreat into advance."
Stoicism is made up of conflicting writings, especially around God, determinism vs free will, happiness vs avoidance of pain etc. Today most Stoic fans are practicing a cafeteria approach: picking up the few useful bits, modifying others, discarding the rest.
But it’s important to know that this is what we’re doing. Because to the extent that we’re taking this approach, we’re not practicing Stoicism. We are abandoning it and relying implicitly on different (and often unidentified) philosophic ideas.
A good character cannot be developed without a proper understanding and implementation of all three Stoic disciplines, which are:
It is not outside forces that make us feel something, it is what we tell ourselves that create our feelings.
Many of us want to place blame and responsibility on external objects because it’s easy to do, but the truth remains that all conflicts start internally, in our minds.
The next time you run into an obstacle and feel resistance, don’t look at what’s around you. Instead, look within.
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