“Don’t set your mind on things you don’t possess as if they were yours, but count the blessings you actually possess and think how much you would desire them if they weren’t already yours.” — Marcus Aurelius When we think about things that we want in our lives, we also need to think about the thing that we already have, and appreciate those things. It’s easy for us to get stuck in the mindset of only focusing on the things that we don’t have in our lives. We focus on what we are lacking as a person and where we consider ourselves as failures. We can get too focused on all the material things that we don’t have and want.
“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” —Marcus Aurelius For people who live in a Guess Culture, learning to ask for what we want is particularly challenging. It can feel uncomfortable, produce anxiety, and in some instances can upset the “way things are supposed to be done”. But learning to be a better asker can help improve communication with those around you, and remove a lot of stress from your life.
“Don’t be ashamed to need help. Like a soldier storming a wall, you have a mission to accomplish. And if you’ve been wounded and you need a comrade to pull you up? So what?” — Marcus Aurelius The Stoics teach us that we’re part of the human community, that we’re here to help and support our fellow humans. None of us can survive just on our own. Even understanding this basic principle, why is it so hard to ask for help?
One thing that fascinates me about humans is our desire to find the easy way to do almost anything. So many of the things that we think of as necessities in our modern lives are simply things that make our lives easier. None of these things are good or bad. They are simply tools to accomplish things in a shorter span of time. But just like everything, it comes with a cost. As we get used to the comfort and ease these tools bring to our lives, it gets easy to become complacent.
How often do we complain about the things that we don’t like about in life? There are so many things to complain about in life. The Pandemic. The government. Politics. Our relationships. Money. Even the weather. We can all find things to complain about. Complaining about something wishes things to be other than they are.
“It is our own opinions that disturb us. Take away these opinions and resolve to dismiss your judgment about an act as if it were something grievous, and your anger is gone.” — Marcus Aurelius Practicing stoicism is not about repressing emotions. It is not about pretending you feel nothing. It’s about understanding how your mind works, so that you can use it to benefit you and those around you. It’s about finding balance and equanimity. It’s recognizing that you have control over what you think, feel, and do. If you are swayed by every little thing other people say, or frustrated by outside events, you will be at the whims of your emotions.
“Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.” — Epictetus One of the core tenants of Stoicism is understanding the things we control and the things we cannot control. Clearly seeing things we do and don’t have control over is a skill that can impact every aspect of our lives. It can help lower our stress and help us make better and faster decisions. It can save us energy by focusing on the important things in our lives and letting go of the rest.
Change Your Perspective, Change Your World “It is not so much what happens to you as how you think about what happens.” – Epictetus Often times we struggle with our own perspective can color how we view ourselves and our lives. What would it take for you to change your perspective? In todays episode, we look at the story of one man who got a second chance at life, and how a shift in his perspective made all the difference.
“A number of our blessings do us harm, for memory brings back the agony of fear while foresight brings it on prematurely. No one confines his unhappiness to the present.” — Seneca. How different would your life be if you could live without fear? What kind of person would you be and what actions would you take if you weren’t afraid? Fear is a powerful force in our lives. It can be the driver of action or inaction. Because it taps into the hard wiring of our lizard brains, it pushes us into reacting in ways that are more basic and instinctual. In todays episode we talk about where fear comes form, and how to manage it.
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.” – Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius warned us worrying about the opinion of others is a waste of time. But, if we live with other people and are social animals, shouldn’t we worry about what others think?
“Equanimity is the voluntary acceptance of the things which are assigned to thee by the common nature.” – Marcus Aurelius How often do we hold ourselves back because of our inner critic? What if instead we practiced self acceptance, and treated ourselves like we treat a good friend – with honesty, kindness, and forgiveness? The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one of your life.