“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.
“Reason shows us there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” — Seneca One of the core tenants of Stoicism is to be aware of, and to focus on what we can control and let go of those we can’t. One area that we don’t have control over is what happened in the past. It is not something that can we can change, yet it is one of the hardest things for us to let go of. Regrets are a prison of our own making, but we are the ones that hold the key to our escape. Learning how to untangle ourselves from past can bring us so peace and freedom to move more lightly in the present.
“People exist for one another. You can instruct or endure them.” — Marcus Aurelius Everyone has needs. If you are a living, breathing human being, you have needs. Why do we find it so hard to ask for the things that we need? So why do so many of us feel like we’re broken because we have needs? In this week’s episode we talk about neediness as something to be understood, not to be ignored.
”It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.” – Marcus Aurelius Deep down, we all harbor insecurities. We feel that we just aren’t as good as we pretend to be, or want to be. Because our ego, our identity, is wrapped up in who we think we are. When something threatens that identity, we can easily get defensive. Our ego tries to maintain the boundaries of who we think we are. This week’s episode is about one of the hardest things for us as human to receive – criticism.
“Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come.” — Seneca One of the hardest things that we have to deal with as humans is anxiety. As humans, we evolved to be constantly aware of threats around us. This is how our brains evolved to keep us alive. That rustling in the bushes could have been a snake or tiger. The adrenaline spike got us ready in flash should we need to fight for our lives or run for safety. Without these traits, humans would not have survived very long. The problem is that we are built to handle threats that don’t exist for most of us.
“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.
“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.
“It is in your power to withdraw yourself whenever you desire. Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.” ― Marcus Aurelius Humans are very social creatures. It is our ability to be social and to cooperate in large numbers that has enabled us to create such amazing societies. We usually feel most at home when we’re with others, but there are times when we find ourselves alone. Most of us find it rather uncomfortable. How do we learn to be alone?
“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.
“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life” — Marcus Aurelius What could possibly go wrong? One of the biggest mistakes that we as humans make is that we are far too optimistic about how something we’re planning might go. In doing so we often fool ourselves into believing that it will work as planned, and overlook what could go wrong. In this weeks episode, we’ll discuss how we can take steps to avoid the blind spots that can easily derail us.
Why is it hard for us to be vulnerable, especially when it comes to those we care about the most? Partners, children, family, close friends – if these are the people we are the closest to why would be afraid to be ourselves around them? In this weeks episode we’ll talk about vulnerability and the real you.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Emerson Do you struggle to find happiness within yourself? Do you despair every time you watch the news? In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about how to get over this despair and how pursuing happiness may not be the best to actually finding happiness.
Dealing with strong emotions in life is something that all of us have to do. But in order for us to actually deal with these different emotions that we have, we need to be sure what we’re actually feeling. We need to expand our emotional vocabulary to give us the words to be able to really identify what it is that we’re feeling and then respond appropriately.
As human beings, we have an amazing gift – the ability to be conscious of our own thinking. How are you taking advantage of this gift? When we are unaware of the thoughts running through our head, we are relinquishing control of our mind to the old habits and patterns that we have created in … [Read more…]
I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation and how we accomplish the goals that we set out to do. And I think there’s a bit a confusion about motivation and how it helps us get things done. Let’s take a look at the definition of motivation: The state or condition of being motivated or having … [Read more…]
“Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.” – Epictetus How do we deal with difficulties? Do we see them as challenges or opportunities? As something that is to be suffered through, or something that teaches us who we are? In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about difficult circumstances and how … [Read more…]
Show Notes: How many times have we made judgments about someone when we first meet them, that later turn out to be completely wrong? “Impressions, striking a person’s mind as soon as he perceives something within range of his senses, are not voluntary or subject to his will, they impose themselves on people’s attention almost … [Read more…]
“Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow, and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What … [Read more…]
“Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Therefore, give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. Remain steadfast…and one day you will build something that endures: something worthy of your … [Read more…]
“The honest and good man ought to be exactly like a man who smells strong, so that the bystander, as soon as he comes near him, must smell him whether he chooses or not.” ― Marcus Aurelius Show Notes: This quote cracked me up. And even though Marcus Aurelius was the Emperor of Rome, I … [Read more…]
“You must know that it is no easy thing for a principle to become a man’s own, unless each day he maintain it and hear it maintained, as well as work it out in life.” – Epictetus Show Notes: How often do we hear something, think that we understand it, but yet it still takes … [Read more…]
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ” ― Epictetus Show Notes: If you were to sit down and write a list of all the things that you want in your life, what would be on that list? Maybe … [Read more…]
“Very little is needed for everything to be upset and ruined, only a slight lapse in reason. it’s much easier for a mariner to wreck his ship than it is for him to keep it sailing safely; all he has to do is head a little more upwind and disaster is instantaneous. In fact, he … [Read more…]
“How ridiculous and unrealistic is the man who is astonished at anything that happens in life.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book 12 Show Notes: – How often do we think that something in life shouldn’t happen to us? – As if we are somehow immune to the things that happen to anyone else in life. … [Read more…]
“First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.” ― Epictetus Show Notes: – Have you ever been around someone that uses words they don’t understand? – How many times have you said something, then had to say, “Well, what I really meant was….”? – What if we took time to make sure … [Read more…]
“He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary.” ― Seneca Show Notes: How often have you stressed over something or worried yourself sick, only to have the scenario you were so worried about never happen? When you worry about something, and you let your imagination run with something, then you suffer many … [Read more…]
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” ― Marcus Aurelius Show Notes: – So many things in our lives that we experience and accept to be “true” is simply a matter of perception. – Often we make the mistake of thinking that just because … [Read more…]
“Man is affected, not by events, but by the view he takes of them.” — Epictetus Show Notes: • Human beings are creatures that love good stories. Stories are the things that we use to make sense of the things in the world. • Myths, such as the Greek and Roman or even Norse … [Read more…]
“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 … [Read more…]
“To admonish is better than to reproach for admonition is mild and friendly, but reproach is harsh and insulting; and admonition corrects those who are doing wrong, but reproach only convicts them.” ― Epictetus Show Notes: Stoics believe that we can only control ourselves. But also believe that we are here to help others. As … [Read more…]
“Well-being is attained little by little, and nevertheless is no little thing itself.” ― Zeno of Citium Show Notes: • Zeno of Citium was the original founder of the Stoic school of philosophy. • Not much of his writing survived, which is why he is not quoted very often when it comes to Stoic philosophy. … [Read more…]
“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” ― Seneca Transcript: Hello friends, welcome to the Stoic Coffee Break. Today’s episode…Stuff “Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to … [Read more…]
“If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.” ― Seneca Show Notes: • How often do we wish the world would change for us? • How often do we think that we can run from … [Read more…]
“Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.” ― Epictetus Show Notes: – It’s important to be careful about the ideas we entertain. – Because the ideas we hold determine who we are – How we show up in the world … [Read more…]
“Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.” ― Seneca Show Notes • Today’s topic is one that is a bit personal to me. It’s something that I struggle with at times. • I’ll get upset about something, and because I let anger get the best of … [Read more…]
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” ― Seneca Show Notes: – Are you a lucky person? – The Stoics understood that most things in life are out of our control. – The reason that they stress that ideas so much, that we try so hard to control things around us. – Trying to … [Read more…]
“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.” ― Epictetus Show Notes: • Stoics believed strongly that we are all in control of our own emotions • One of the strongest emotions we have to deal with is anger • … [Read more…]
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man … [Read more…]
“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 … [Read more…]
“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” ― Seneca Transcript We live in a time where the average lifespan is almost double what it was 200 years ago. Advances in medicine, sanitation, and agriculture have made it possible for more people to live … [Read more…]
“You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.” ― Marcus Aurelius Have you ever considered the possibility that you don’t need to … [Read more…]