The Real Source of Harm - Deepstash
The Real Source of Harm

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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MORE IDEAS FROM The Daily Stoic

The Smoke and Dust of Myth

Marcus Aurelius was reminded that no matter how much he conquered, no matter how much he inflicted his will on the world, it would be like building a castle in the sand—soon to be erased by the winds of time.

Eventually, all of us will pass away and slowly be forgotten. We should enjoy this brief time we have on earth—not be enslaved to emotions that make us miserable and dissatisfied.

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Accurate Self-Assessment

Most people resist the idea of a true self-estimate, probably because they fear it might mean downgrading some of their beliefs about who they are and what they’re capable of.

As Goethe’s maxim goes, it is a great failing “to see yourself as more than you are" and it is equally damaging to “value yourself at less than your true worth.”

We underestimate our capabilities just as much and just as dangerously as we overestimate other abilities. Cultivate the ability to judge yourself accurately and honestly. Look inward to discern what you’re capable of and what it will take to unlock that potential.

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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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“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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Cafeteria Stoicism

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.

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