Q & A

284 – Q & A – Daily Life, God, Difficult People, and Politics

Hello friends, my name is Erick Cloward and welcome to the Stoic Coffee Break. The Stoic Coffee Break is a weekly podcast where I take an aspect of Stoicism and do my best to break it down to its most important points. I share my experiences, both my successes and my failures, and hope that you can learn something from them all within the space of a coffee break.

So this week's episode is going to be a little bit different. I've been traveling quite a bit. I am now in Amsterdam. And so I put a post out on social media a couple of weeks ago. I guess about a week or so ago, that I'm going to do a question and answer episode. This is the first time I've done this, but I thought it might be interesting to give it a go.

So, I had some people on social media ask me some questions, I also asked some of my friends for their questions about Stoicism and just kind of about life and philosophy in general, and we'll see how this goes.

So the first question that I got was: What are some common mistakes people make when trying to practice Stoicism, and how can I avoid them?

So, the first mistake that most people think about stoicism is that stoicism is about repressing your emotions. That it's not showing any emotions when you are dealing with something that you're struggling with. And this is really not the case. Stoicism is about emotional awareness. It's about making sure that you are in touch with your emotions in a way that allows you to manage them better.

That you have control over your emotions and yourself rather than letting your emotions control you and this comes with, really working on your awareness about yourself awareness about the way that you think. The way that your emotions come because of the things that you think because remember when you are struggling with an emotion. Emotions are created by the thinking that you have, and that your thoughts are the things that lead to emotions and it also can create a feedback loop because emotions can impact your thinking.

So for example, if someone says something that you consider to be rude, it's your opinion of what they said that makes it rude. It's your opinion that causes the emotions that you feel about what they said. And by recognizing that it's your opinion that is causing the emotions, you get to choose how you let those emotions impact you and the actions that you take.

So that for me is probably. One of the most common mistakes that people make it when they start to practice stoicism, you're not cutting off emotions. You're just becoming more aware of them so that you can actually do something about them and manage them rather than having them control you.

So the next question is: How did you discover stoicism or what made you start studying it?

So, I first heard about Stoicism from Tim Ferriss. He mentioned the book, The Guide to the Good Life: The Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. And he said it was a book that changed his life. And Tim reads lots of books, makes lots of recommendations. And for me, when Tim says, hey, this is a book that changed my life, it caught my attention.

And I also was curious about the title. Or the subtitle, The Art of Stoic Joy. Because to me, I only knew stoic as somebody who is, you know, very rigid and very emotionless. And so stoic joy was something that I liked the contradiction, so I thought I'd give it a read. So I got the book, and I read through it, and there were a lot of good ideas in it, but it didn't quite click the first time.

And I knew that there was something more to it, because as I listened to Tim's podcast, I would hear again and again, hey, you know, talking about stoicism, talking about stoicism. So I got the audio book and for about two or three months, I listened to it on the way to and from work. It was like a 15 minute commute.

And I kept having a lot of these aha moments every time I would be listening to it. And it was at that point that it really started to click for me. And I just kept having these moments where I'd be like, wow, that is an amazing idea. I never thought of that. I never knew that the world worked this way.

So at that point, I bought the daily journal that Ryan Holiday has, and this was back in 2017. And just at the beginning of 2018, so I could write it in the new year. And I started journaling, and my New Year's resolution was to start a podcast. And I wasn't sure what I wanted to start a podcast on, I had all kinds of ideas.

And I figured since I was learning about Stoicism, I would just do a podcast on Stoicism and it was supposed to be just a practice podcast. I would just practice making a podcast and I would talk about Stoicism because I needed a topic to talk about. And then things kind of took off and here we are today.

Next question is: What is the best way to practice Stoicism on a daily basis?

I think there are a lot of ways that you can practice Stoicism, but there are a few things that I've always found helpful and I know it's going to sound like I'm repeating the same thing, but these are all things that. It'll allow you to practice Stoicism on a daily basis.

I think that reading something from the Stoics such as Meditations or writings by Epictetus and Seneca or Rufus Masonius are always, always something good to add to your day. If it's, if Stoicism is just something that you're getting into, Ryan Holiday's books are also a great way to get a good introduction if you find the ancient text a little bit hard to follow. I think there are lots of great books out there that can be incredibly helpful. And I even like to mix in things by like Buddhist writers like Thich Nhat Hanh.

Now, another thing that I talk about a lot is meditation. And even though I've kind of fallen off the wagon with this and have not been practicing it every day like I used to, gaining that awareness of your own mind is incredibly helpful for emotional awareness and emotional management.

So a few years ago, I challenged myself to meditate for 60 minutes a day for 60 days in a row. And it was challenging. It was something that was very, very hard. And I found that usually the first half hour to 40 minutes, my brain was just kind of like randomly firing off thoughts and thinking about all kinds of things.

And then the last, you know, 20 – 25 minutes would be where I kind of find some peace and I could watch my thinking in a much more relaxed way. But I found that doing that exercise really helped me to have an overall ability to manage my thinking better. So it, it kind of did a big reset. Like my brain worked through a bunch of stuff and so my anxiety levels overall are much lower. And I find that when I need to, when I'm feeling anxious about something, I can just stop, take a deep breath and I'm able to manage my thoughts quite a bit better.

And so it's something that I'm working on getting back into every day. Probably do it a bit shorter than that, but if you can, I highly recommend doing that exercise. It's hard. It's very, very hard, but I found that from that point on, I was a lot more in control of how I could think about things. Another thing to understand about meditation is it doesn't mean that you just have to sit quietly in a room for 30, 60 minutes, whatever.

It can be just walking out in nature and paying attention to your thinking. It can be just taking a moment on the bus and just pay attention to your thinking. And just taking some time, even just 10 minutes a day to just sit down and allow yourself to be bored and to pay attention to your thoughts. And the goal of meditation, at least for me, is to not necessarily relax, but to become much more aware of what my brain is doing, what my brain is thinking of. And it's a, it's a very valuable skill because it's hard to manage your thinking if you're not aware of what you're actually thinking.

And the last way that I recommend, again, these are all simple tools that everybody talks about. So for me, I find that sitting down and writing in my journal is a good way to get everything that's kind of stirring around in my head. It's also a meditative practice for me.

So sometimes when I'm feeling anxious about things or I'm unclear about what I need to get done in my life, I just sit down and do a brain dump. And just whatever comes to my mind, I just start writing it down. And it takes what's spinning around in my head and puts it down on paper so one, it's easier to see and two, it's much easier just to be able to organize those types of thoughts.

So if meditation isn't your thing, maybe try journaling. I think that either of those two practices will really help you to become aware of your own thinking, which is a big part of how you can practice stoicism in your daily life much better.

So the next question I got is an interesting one, but I think I'll, I'll address it. And the question is: Is “God” a pronoun, the name of an all powerful man, or is “god” an ancient word meaning the totality of an infinite universe, and why?

So, this is an interesting question, and not something that is really particularly answered by Stoicism, so this is just my opinion on it, and, for me, I would tend to fall on the second option.

So, I think that god is just a way to try and explain why there is something rather than nothing. And because this is such a mysterious area, people from the beginning of time have tried to understand where we came from, why we're here, and where do we go when we die. And the truth is, we don't know.

I mean, we do know that there has to be something at the beginning. There has to be something that created everything that exists. There is some kind of force, a creative force that exists, otherwise there would be nothing. But to assume that it's some old guy with a beard or to ascribe or assume that we know what this person wants us to do or believe is not something that I just, that I can’t follow.

I mean, we tend to anthropomorphize things that we don't understand. And throughout history, people have claimed to know what this all powerful being wants us to do. And usually it's what that person wants us to do.

So the next question: How can I develop a stoic mindset when it comes to dealing with difficult people or situations?

I think the most important thing you can do is to not take anything personally, even if it is. When you can put some distance between you and what the other person is saying or doing, then it gives you choices. And if you're constantly being reactive to what someone else says or does, then you're not the one that's in control.

They are.

So one of the easier ways to do this is when you can recognize that what the other person is saying or doing is just their perspective. It's just their opinion. Just because someone said something doesn't mean that it's the truth. And if it is the truth, well, you should be open to it. You should be open to taking in things that are factual, even if they are uncomfortable.

I think the bigger part of this is that if someone can get you easily stirred up, well, that's your problem and not theirs. Yes, they may be an asshole and they may say stupid or mean things, but it's your opinion of what they're saying that gets you stirred up. It's the thoughts in your mind that create the emotions you feel, and those emotions drive your actions.

If you can simply take in the things that they are saying is just that, that they are words that are coming out of their mouths, then you can be curious about what they are saying and think about it. And honestly, I think that being curious about what others are saying And why they are saying it is one of the fastest ways to not let others get under your skin.

An example of this where I failed recently was when I was a podcast guest just a couple of weeks ago. Now, the podcast host was a pretty hardcore Catholic who had some very hardline views on some things that I disagreed with, and I found myself getting very defensive and things got a little bit heated.

It was still civil, but I was definitely riled up. And I was not really trying to understand his point of view or to be curious about why he believed the things that he did. And after the interview, I had some time to sit and think about how I didn't live up to my stoic ideals. I realized that I hadn't been curious, but I just wanted to prove that I was right, or at the very least prove that he was wrong.

And it was certainly a learning space for me, because I want to be curious. I want to try and understand others, even if I don't agree with them. And while I feel like I failed, I also feel like I learned something for the next time I talk with someone like him.

Next question: Who would Marcus Aurelius vote for?

Oh boy, this is going to be a thorny one, which is why I saved it for last. I'm assuming that the person who asked it is referring to the presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. And right now politics in the U. S. and in plenty of other countries is very divisive. But let's not fool ourselves.

Divisive politics is nothing new in the world. It just feels very amplified because of social media and the fact that we have so much more news available to us that we didn't have until the last 25 years or so. So let's walk through this and think about how we should choose our elected leaders. When we think about Marcus Aurelius and how he tried to govern, we see a leader who was unselfish, who was principled, he was thoughtful and patient.

He tried to be a leader who served those that he governed. He did his best to govern in a way that benefited as many people as possible, not just those who were on his side. He was not there for his own enrichment or glory. In fact, he sold items from the palace to help pay debts that needed to be paid.

He didn't live lavishly, but he lived plainly in order to focus on the job of running the empire. He was faithful to his wife, even though there were rumors that his wife had had affairs outside of their marriage. A good example of him trying to live up to his stoic principles was when Marcus was emperor, there was an attempted coup by Avidius Cassius, who was actually a trusted friend and a loyal general to the emperor.

And this betrayal was a major test of Marcus Aurelius stoic principles. Because he was faced with a very difficult situation that could have led to a lot of anger and revenge. However, Marcus demonstrated his commitment to Stoic principles by showing mercy and forgiveness to Cassius instead of seeking retribution. Which would have been the normal thing for most other emperors at that time.

So with that said, you have to ask yourself, which of the people running for office is doing their best to live up to these principles? Which one is trying to serve the whole nation and not just those that follow him? Which one speaks out about trying to find ways to bring us together and find things that we have in common rather than trying to create divisions between us?

If you look at what each of them actually says and does, and not just what you hear on partisan news channels, then I think you'll find a pretty clear distinction between them. The question is, are you willing to seek out that information, or are you just sticking to the news channels that say the things that you like to hear? Have you picked a side?

Now, I'm sure a lot of you were disappointed that I didn't directly choose a side, but I think that's part of the problem. There are no sides. I think a big problem is that politics has turned into nothing more than rooting for a side like you would for a football game. And people want their side to win.

I want the person who will be the best leader for all of us to win. I want the person that is doing their best to serve all of us. Not just someone who is seeking power for their own glory and to pour down favors onto those that they consider to be loyal to them. So when you look at the candidates, there's a few things I want you to think about.

Do you filter everything that happens from one party through a negative bias? Do you look at the politicians for the things that they do and actually say or do you gloss over it and simply follow it because it's your side? Now understanding your own perspective on it can be very, very helpful because then you can look at somebody for the things that they actually do and the things they actually say and see if it lines up with you.

I mean, personally, there are people on both sides of the political aisle because in the U. S. that's pretty much what we have is two sides, that when they do something good, when they put in legislation, when they say things that try to bring us together, I support that. I don't have a side that I choose and go, yep, I'm just going to follow this one blindly.

I will criticize people on the political party that I generally follow when they do things that are really stupid or when they do things that aren't helpful. And I'll do things such as when there's somebody on the other side who does good things, I'll praise them and support them because I think that it's not about which side.

It's about how do we govern in a way that is beneficial to the most people. And while we may disagree on that, we need to be able to come together and actually talk about that and be willing to listen to people and understand their point of view. And I think that's the hardest thing, is that we get stuck in this way of thinking that other people think just like us.

And if we don't understand where someone is coming from and what their values are, what's important to them, they may choose a candidate who is just saying the things that they want to hear. Even if that candidate isn't standing up for the principles that we truly believe in.

Now the Stoics have four virtues, and I think that that's probably one of the best places to start to pick out a political candidate, and the four virtues are wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. Is the political candidate you're looking at wise? Do they take in science? Do they take in learning? Do they take in experience and try to apply it in a way that, again, helps the most people? Are they courageous and willing to stand up for their beliefs and their principles even when they're getting knocked down pretty hard for those things?

Are they in search of justice or are they looking out for vengeance or revenge? And lastly, are they moderate? Are they willing to listen to people on both sides? Are they willing to have the self discipline for themselves to not let their baser emotions, their baser impulses come out and lash out angrily at their opponents, but that they do their best to reach across and try to treat their opponents with respect and compassion and try to govern and not just rule? And I think that's really probably one of the best things that you can filter any political candidate for.

So that's the end of this week's episode. Like I said, this is something new that I'm trying out. If you have any questions that you want to send to me, I will probably do another episode like this and hopefully you will have some good questions for me to answer about stoicism, about how to look at the world through a stoic perspective, how to apply stoicism in your daily life.

I think there are a lot of things you can do and the more detailed the question, the more I appreciate it. I'd really like to get some good ideas generated through this. So I'd appreciate it if you'd send me your questions. And as always be kind to yourself, be kind to others and thanks for listening.

Hello friends! Thanks for listening.
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Thanks again for listening.


232 – QTIP

It is our own opinions that disturb us

How often do you take what other people say and do personally? How often do you feel like you have to “fix” someone else’s mood? Today I want to talk about emotional responsibility, and how it can lead a stronger sense of self and keep you from getting pulled into other peoples emotional mayhem.

Not to display anger or other emotions. To be free of passion and yet full of love.

—Marcus Aurelius

The other day I was talking with my therapist about how I feel like I’m dealing with conflict a little better in my life. I was talking about how I was getting better about not trying to control or change other people’s emotions, and how that was very liberating. In doing so I’m able to just let them be annoyed or frustrated or upset with me without having to do anything about it. And she used a great turn of phrase, she said, “QTIP. You quit taking things personally.” I laughed because I’d never heard that before, but it was a great shortcut to keep that idea in mind.

If we seek social status, we give other people power over us: we have to do things calculated to make them admire us, and we have to refrain from doing things that will trigger their disfavor.

—William B. Irvine

Why do we find it so hard to just let other people be annoyed? Why do we so often feel like we have to fix how they feel?

For many of us, we confuse trying to fix other people emotions with being nice. We’re raised to find ways to keep the peace, and often that includes us finding ways of placating others or take on other peoples emotions. We may even take the blame for things that we had no control over just to try and keep others happy.

One of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn in my life was how not to taking things personally. If someone is upset with me, I find it very challenging to just let them be upset with me. I usually try to either fix whatever is upsetting them, or I try to change how they are feeling by arguing with them about why they are wrong to be upset with me. And you know, that never really works. When you try to change how someone feels about something, they often get even more upset or resentful because you are invalidating how they feel. You are letting them know that their emotions are not acceptable.

Think about how you feel when you tell someone about how something they did impacted you, and rather than listening and hearing what you have to say, they start trying to argue about why you shouldn’t feel the way you do. Talk about feeling dismissed and invalidated. When someone is upset with you, it is not your job to fix their emotions. You don’t need to change how other people feel. Let them be mad, frustrated, and upset with you. It’s their right to feel what they feel. It is not your place to try and change them. And the thing is, that’s not something you need to take on. It’s not your job to manage their emotions. It’s theirs.

Now many of us this can be challenging. When people are responding to you, often it really has nothing to do with you but more to do with their trauma and baggage. I know that when I’m upset about something, I’ve often reacted in way that later, upon reflection, wasn’t really even related to what the other person did. I reacted to what they said or did in a way that had more to do with my past than what happened in the present.

Our brains are constantly using past data to try and predict future outcomes. If you have lots of bad data from growing up in a dysfunctional family or suffered some kind of trauma or abuse, sometimes your responses aren’t going to be appropriate to the current situation.

For example, because my dad was so unpredictable, when he was annoyed about something it could quickly escalate into something very volatile. So when someone close to me is annoyed, my brain screams “danger!”, and will often overreact. It’s gotten much better, but it has taken tremendous effort to reprogram those responses.

As a recovering “people pleaser”, I often feel like it’s my job to try and fix other people’s moods. A big reason for this is because growing up, I had to be conscientious of my dad’s emotions because if I didn’t, I could end up being beaten. I had to be on guard all the time and find ways to soothe him or make him happy to keep myself safe.

So does this mean that you should just be calloused and not care about how other feel? I mean it’s their emotions to deal with, right? I think there is a fine balance between not taking on other emotions and being an ass. Humans are always trying to subtly and not so subtly manipulate and persuade each other. Most times it’s harmless and often beneficial. But there are those that try to emotionally manipulate others to try and take advantage of them. Blaming others for their moods or for the problems in their lives, throwing tantrums, and guilt tripping are all things that I’ve seen people do to each other, and I’ve done my fare share of it as well.

It is our own opinions that disturb us. Take away these opinions then, and resolve to dismiss your judgment about an act as if it were something grievous, and your anger is gone.

—Marcus Aurelius

So how can we get better about not taking on others emotions and not taking things personally? By taking responsibility for your own emotional management, and encouraging others to do so as well. When you are responsible for your emotions, you have a good handle on where those lines are. You don’t take responsibility for emotions and actions that are not yours.

When you take the blame for things that you have no control over, it does little to really solve an issue. This also robs others of the chance to take responsibility for themselves. Each of us need to be clear about what is ours to manage, and was is not.

The other thing is that you can’t fix someone else’s emotions anyway. The stoics teach us pretty clearly that out thinking is what distresses us. If the other person is upset abr something, it’s their perspective on things that is causing their distress, and it’s something they need to figure out. What we can do on our side is support them and do our best to reign in our emotions to help defuse situations whenever possible.

We’ve all been on both sides of arguments where we blame others for how we feel, and have had other blame us for how they’re feeling. Neither of these perspectives do a very good job of helping us manage ourselves and support others. When we practice being a little more dispassionate and to quit taking things personally, the more we’ll be able to be in control of ourselves, and support others in managing their own emotions, which helps create more emotionally balanced relationships, and helps each of us be a little more kind and patient with each other.

Hello friends! Thank you for listening. Stop by the website at where you can sign up for our newsletter, and buy some great looking shirts and hoodies at the Stoic Coffee Shop.

Want to help support this podcast? Become a patron on patreon!

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Find me on instagram or twitter.

Lastly if you know of someone that would benefit from or appreciate this podcast, please share it. Word of mouth is the best way to help this podcast grow. Thanks again for listening.

Coffee Break

223 – Changing Others

Changing Others

Living on this planet with other people can be very challenging at times. If you’re like me, sometimes you have a strong difference of opinion with someone, and you end up in an argument and spend a lot of time and energy trying to change the other persons mind. We see this play out on social media as well where people spend a lot of time and energy trying to debate other people to get them to change. Watching this behavior in myself and others, makes me ask the question:

Why do we spend so much time trying to change other people or expecting that other people will change for us?

We know that we cannot change others, but there’s a part of us that wants the world to change for us. Our brain looks for threats and danger outside of ourselves in order to keep us safe. When we’re uncomfortable, it’s challenging to just sit with those things that are uncomfortable so we look for a cause outside of ourselves. Maybe we don’t like what someone else said, or we disagree with their opinion. We think that if the other person would behave or think differently, then we would be happier. Rather than spending our time and energy looking inside and finding what we control in the situation, we try to change what we think is the cause.

The problem is that we misidentify the cause of our distress. We think the cause is someone or something else, but really it comes down to the story that we’re telling ourself. It’s the meaning that we give to what the other person said or did. We take their actions and words and interpret them to suit the narrative that going on in our minds. We spin what they other person says in a negative or positive light depending out our opinion of them.

One of the main reasons that we may try to change other people is that we want others to think like us. Human beings are very social animals and fitting in with others is very important. It’s part of what helps our survival. If there are more people who think like us, then we feel like our worldview is correct, and we feel safer. We feel like we’re part of how the world is supposed to be. When others disagree with us, we may feel like our worldview is under threat, which causes us to feel uncomfortable or even hostile. When it comes to an opinion that we hold very strongly, we may unconsciously feel fear when something comes along and challenges our beliefs. We don’t like the tension and so we try to change the other persons opinion.

I also think as humans we’re all a little lazy, or more to the point, our brains are lazy tries to be efficient. Taking time to figure out where we might be wrong or to figure out the the things we can control takes time and cognitive energy. It also takes energy to actually control the things we can. If we can get someone else to do the work, then we don’t have to. The problem with expecting others to do this kind of work, and to change for us, is that it makes others resentful, and the changes that we need to make don’t happen. Also, in the long run it means a lot more work for us if we expect others to change for us, we have to somehow convince all those other people to change to fit our worldview.

When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval.

— Epictetus

So how do we work with this? How can we get better about recognizing and staying in a place where we don’t need to change other people in order for us to feel happy?

I think the first thing we need to do is ask ourselves why it is important that we change this other person? What do we get if they change their mind? What happens if they don’t? What are you making it mean if this person has a different opinion? What’s the story you’re telling yourself?

I think a lot of this behavior comes from insecurity. When we are insecure, we need others to agree with us in order for us to feel okay with ourselves. Our ego needs that validation in order for us to feel okay.

When we are comfortable with ourselves, we don’t need others to agree with us. Just as we wouldn’t argue with someone over whether 1 + 1 = 2, if we are really secure with ourselves, we would not feel threatened over someone disagreeing with us.

Don’t argue with people nor insist on showing them truth. Maybe it is you who needs to change your mind. Even if you are right you only incur resentment by trying to correct others.

—The Ancient Sage (@theAncientSage)

We also need to consider the fact that we might be the one who is wrong. Just because you think something and have an opinion about something does not mean that you are correct and the other person is not. When we take the time to really consider someone else’s opinion, we may find some problems with the opinion that we are holding. We would just realize that we had bad information and could adjust accordingly.

Lastly, we need to recognize that when we expect others to change for us, we give our power away because we are basing our comfort or happiness upon someone else changing for us. When we expect others to change for us, we are placing ourselves in the role of a victim. We’re unhappy and won’t feel happy until someone else changes and does what we want them to. Not a good way to to find equanimity.

Learning to let go of our ego and of our need to have other people think like we do can reduce a lot of stress in our lives. When we can listen to and be curious about other peoples opinions without taking it to mean that we’re wrong if we don’t agree with them. We can expand our worldview while at the same time preserve our equanimity.

Hello friends! Thank you for listening. Stop by the website at where you can sign up for our newsletter, and buy some great looking shirts and hoodies at the Stoic Coffee Shop.

Want to help support this podcast? Become a patron on patreon!

Like the theme song? You can find it here from my alter ego. 🙂

Lastly if you know of someone that would benefit from or appreciate this podcast, please share it. Word of mouth is the best way to help this podcast grow. Thanks again for listening.

Awareness Coffee Break Opinion

127 – Laugh in The Face Of Evil

Laugh In The Face OF Evil


“If evil be said of thee, and if it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it.”

― Epictetus

Show Notes:

  • When I read this quote the first thing that came to mind was “I laugh in the face of evil!” 🙂
  • How often do we get upset at what others say about us?
  • How often do we let what others say about define who we are?
  • Why get upset about their opinion, esp if it’s a lie?
  • Remember, as Stoics we need to open to correction, because what we believe and how we see the world could be totally wrong.
  • We are going to make mistakes.
  • We need to act with integrity and decide if they said has merit.
  • So if someone points out a flaw, we should be thankful because we now know what to correct.
  • And if what is said about you is patently false, rather than let it upset, you should simply laugh in the face of evil.
  • On the surface this quote is telling us that we shouldn’t let what others say about us bother us, because it’s just their opinion, their way of seeing the world.
  • But if we dig a little deeper, what this quote is also telling us is that we need to deal with reality as it it, and not what we want it to be.
  • The reality is we will make mistakes. We’re not perfect. And there will be times when we fail to uphold our standards.
  • Often we don’t see the crappy things that we do, because sometimes because we don’t want to see them. Our ego gets in the way.
  • If we act with integrity should be willing to own our actions, and the outcome of our actions.
  • Don’t own others reactions. Everyone is responsible for their own emotions and reactions.
  • Be grateful for your enemies because they are often the only ones that tell you the truth.
  • And if they lie, laugh in the face of evil.


Awareness Coffee Break Opinion

117 – Do Good of Your Own Accord

Do Good of Your Own Accord


“Even as the Sun does not wait for prayers and incantations to rise, but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so should you not wait for clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do your duty; nay, do good of your own accord, and you will be loved like the Sun.”

― Epictetus


One of the ideas that is common in a lot of religions is the idea of doing good works without the fanfare of other people. That we should do things because they are the right things to do, not because everyone will see what we are doing. And here Epictetus uses some great imagery to explain that idea. Just as the sun doesn’t wait for fanfare to shine, we shouldn’t wait to do things just to be seen by others.

And what is wrong with that? What is wrong with doing things to be seen by others? We’re still doing good deeds aren’t we? And we get the added benefit of praise from others, so that’s good, right? When we do things just to be seen by others, we are worrying about the opinions of others. If we only do things when we can get praise, then there’s a lot of good things that we could do that will go undone because we were waiting to do it when others could praise us.

We are giving our control to other people. We are in a sense letting the opinions of others dictate what we will do. When we act this way, we’re often thinking, “What’s in it for me?” What if everyone worked this way? What if everyone asked, “What’s in it for me?”

What if you were injured and someone came along who could help you, but they decided not to because no one was around to see their good deed? They decided that it would not benefit them so they leave you to fend for yourself. This is what Jesus talked about the story of the good Samaritan.

For those that don’t know the story, a man is traveling to another town, and is robbed, beaten, and left for dead. A priest and a Levite, who was religious man who worked in the temple, both pass by and leave the man. A Samaritan comes along and helps the man and takes him to an inn and pays for him to receive help with no expectation of being repaid or praised. At that time Jews and Samaritans despised each other, so in doing so, he showed that their “enemy” helped the man because it was the right things to do, not because of any outward praise or direct benefit to himself.

The things is, our world is built upon us being cooperative and doing lots of little and big kindnesses throughout the day. And personally, I think that the one of the main purpose of lives, and what makes our lives richer is to lessen the suffering of others. And you know what? It feels good when I help others and do it because it’s something I want to do, not because I think I’ll get something out of it.

Just as the sun shines on us without waiting for praise, we should make doing good for its own sake be part of our nature.

Photo by Ronaldo Santos on Unsplash

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108 – Opinion Of The Self

Opinion Of The Self

“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

Photo by Sergiu Vălenaș on Unsplash