“Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue — if you care for yourself at all — and do it while you can.” — Marcus Aurelius. Does being a Stoic mean you can be apathetic? Does not reacting mean that you just give up? Because Stoicism is about controlling your response, it can easily seem that you just let things just happen and don’t take action. But to be a true Stoic, you are the opposite of apathetic. You are effective. By taking the time to choose your shot, you don’t waste time or energy on the things you can’t control.
“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 Have you ever thought about how much energy and effort we as humans put into seeking comfort and avoiding challenging things? So many things that we spend money on in our lives revolve around making things easier or more comfortable. Part of human evolution has been to seek comfort. We try to make things easier for ourselves. But in doing so, are we robbing ourselves of a chance to grow? In our search for convenience, do we end up weakening ourselves?
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” — Theodore Roosevelt When you find yourself in a challenging situation, how much time do you spend wishing things were different than they are? Do you get stuck in thinking how it’s not fair? What if instead of wanting to things to be other than what they are, we worked with what we have? What kind of change could you have in your life and in the lives of others if you instead focused on what you could do? How much time and frustration would you save yourself? Today I want to talk about how taking action, even if it’s just a small one, can help get you on the path of moving through challenges.
“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.
I have a card in my office that I look at from time to time. It says, “Win or learn, then you never lose.” I have it sitting on my desk as a daily reminder that I when I feel like I’m failing at something to remember that I’m really just learning something.
“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.
“A person’s worth is measured by the worth of what they value.” – Marcus Aurelius. Every human being is worthy because they exist. You were not put here to live for someone else. You are here to realize your full potential, and if you are living for others, you are not following your path.
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.
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good person should be. Be one.” – Marcus Aurelius On this podcast I talk a lot about being responsible for for your own actions and thoughts, but what does that really mean? How do you actually accomplish this?
“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.
“To achieve freedom and happiness, you need to grasp this basic truth: some things in life are under your control, and others are not.” – Epictetus There are things that we can control, and things we can’t. But how do we deal with things that we can’t control, but have a big impact on us?
“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.
“If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it.” — Marcus Aurelius One of the hazards of being alive is the fact that we’re never going to please everyone. We’re going to have people that will not like what we do. People are going to criticize whatever it is we’re doing. And in the 21st century, this is nowhere more apparent than in social media. This weeks episode is about how to be your best online.