159 – It’s About Time

159 - It's About Time

Live YOUR life!

Time is the most important, the most in-demand resource that we have in life. Are you spending yours wisely or do you let it go to waste?

How much time?

The most finite resource that each of us has is our time. We can always make more money, but making more time is not something that any of us can do. While we can’t ever know exactly how much time we have, each of us can learn to spend our time more wisely.

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

— Seneca

Time Wasters

Are you just wasting time? How much time do you spend on social media? How much time do you spend on watching T.V. or Netflix on a given night? What are the time-suckers in your life? I mean how many likes do you need to give on Facebook? I find that I’ve had to limit my time on Facebook since it such an easy rabbit hole to fall in to.

I remember that I saw a talk once given by movie critic Micheal Medvid, when I was in college. While I don’t see eye to eye with him on a lot of things, he said something that really stuck with me. He said talked about how at the time the average American watched an average of 28 hours of TV a week. And this was before Facebook was even dreamed of. He talked about the fact that it’s not that there is enough quality media to watch. There’s plenty of good material. It’s that we lose a lot of our lives if we’re immersed in that much TV. We miss family connections. We miss out on living our own lives when we live by proxy of watching someone else’s life, real or fictional.

Indecision

One area that I’m currently struggling with is deciding where I want to put my time outside of work. I have so many things that I’m interested in doing and things I want to work on that I struggle with paring things down so that I can give enough time to the things I really want to do. I have plenty of good options, things that are very interesting to me. But I’m struggling to choose one, and because of that indecision, I’m not really moving forward with any of my plans. I’m working through the choices and deciding where I want to go. I’ve set a deadline for the end of the year, so that I can focus my energy on a few things, rather than being spread too thin.

“Were all the geniuses of history to focus on this single theme, they could never fully express their bafflement at the darkness of the human mind. No person would give up even an inch of their estate, and the slightest dispute with a neighbor can mean hell to pay, yet we easily let others encroach on our lives — worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passersby, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tightfisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”

— Seneca, “On the Shortness of Life,” 3.1-2

Priorities

One of the things that we really need is to have our priorities lined up. This is going to be different for everyone. For some, family is their top priority. For others, it may be their work. Others it may be service to a cause. There is no perfect list of priorities. Each person needs to decide for themselves what is most important for them, and stay focused on it. If you don’t have a clear vision of where you want to go, then you’ll end up exactly where aim. Nowhere.

And the thing is, it’s going to vary for each person. Everyone has differing things that are of more or less important than others. And we need to understand that what we find important, is not going to be the same for others. And that’s okay. If everyone had the exact same priorities, we’d have a very much less interesting world to live in. Understanding what priorities are yours can help guide you in focusing on the things that are most rewarding.

Core Values

One of the areas that can help you choose what your priorities are is by understanding your core values. We talked about this a few episodes ago, and these are the things that can help you stick to the priorities that are more rewarding for you.

Changes

As you move through the different stages of life you’ll find that the things that were important to you in your teen years will be far different than those in your twenties. Those things that seemed so important in your twenties will change dramatically in your thirties. Every stage of life is a place of learning new things. You’ll have different responsibilities and different things competing for your time. You’ll find that some things you thought were so important when you were in college seem ridiculous when you’ve you look back on them 10 years later. As we learn and grow as people, we’re always going to be changing.

Intentional

So you need to ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Every choice you make then becomes a simple question: “Does this get me closer to the vision of my life? Does this move me forward on my goals?” And the thing is, you can and should choose at the time to do things that don’t move you forward. A life too focused means that you may miss out on some fun and interesting things. But what it really comes down to is being clear and deliberate about the things that you choose to spend your time on. It comes to making sure that you really think about each “yes” and “no”.

With the new year just around the corner, this is a good time for us to look at what we’re spending our time on in life. We can take time to be sure that the things we’re spending our time on are moving us forward towards the goals that we have in our lives. By taking the time to evaluate if the goals that we have line up with our priorities and our core values, we can be better at choosing those activities that enhance our lives. We can be sure

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142 – Reject the Injury

Why do we feel a sense of injury when disagrees with us? Why do we feel hurt when someone tells us we are wrong? In this week’s episode, we’re going to talk why were worry so much about what others think of us and how to learn to deal with our ego.

 

Show Notes:

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”

― Marcus Aurelius

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

— Anonymous

One of the aspects of stoicism that has been most difficult for me has been learning to not let the opinions of others affect me. I don’t that I’m alone in this. I think most people, struggle with this aspect of life. So why is that? Why do we worry about what others think of us?

We are social animals so we naturally crave the approval and acceptance of other people. Working together is how our species not only survived but have been able to dominate this planet.

The media, especially fashion magazines make their living off selling others the latest hot trend of what will make others like and admire you.

Social media has capitalized on this need to feel the approval of others. We get that burst of pleasure when others like our post or leave a comment. We get a thrill when our tweet gets retweeted by a celebrity. And on the flipside, if we are mocked or become the butt of someone’s joke it can be crushing.

The society we grew up in or currently live in has a big impact as well. I grew up in a very religious community, where there were very rigid expectations of how I was supposed to behave and the things that I should want and do in my life. I was strongly judged by how well I lived up to the principles laid out by the church elders, and I remember so much of my early life feeling like I was simply a failure as a person because I could never live up to these unreachable standards. I was basically trained to seek the judgments of others.

Even with all that said, why does it hurt when someone insults us?

I think that it comes from a threat to our ego. So what is the ego, and why does it feel “bruised” when someone puts us down or doesn’t like us?

The ego is often described as our identity or self-concept. It is that part of us that see us as something separate from everything else around us. It is the thing that is ‘us’ and not the ‘other’.  And this sense of identity is a combination of our memories, our ideas about who we are, and ideas about who we want to become.  Part of how we develop a sense of self is how we are seen by others. If there is no one else around us, how would we know if we are selfish? If we are rude? If we are funny? If we are likable? All of these aspects of our ‘self’ are dependent on how others view us.

When we have a healthy ego, a healthy sense of self, we are able to look at what others say as simply their opinion. We can look at it as simply information, and we can decide what to do with it.  

When we have an unhealthy ego, when someone doesn’t like us, our sense of identity can feel threatened. When someone criticizes us, we feel like they are telling us that what we have done, or what we think is wrong, and therefore there is something wrong with us. Rather than being able to look at what others say as their opinion, and something to consider, we may fall apart. We may get angry and fight back. The first reaction is becoming a victim. The second is trying to control someone other than ourselves.

Marcus Aurelius was the most powerful man in the world when he was emperor of Rome. But even as emperor, had to remind himself that when someone said something disparaging that it was his own mind that gave meaning to what was said about him. He gives us some really good advice on how to deal with those that we feel are trying to injure us.

“When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you understand that, you’ll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger. Your sense of good and evil may be the same as theirs, or near it, in which case you have to excuse them. Or your sense of good and evil may differ from theirs. In which case they’re misguided and deserve your compassion. Is that so hard?”

― Marcus Aurelius

What Marcus is telling is that usually, others are not trying to harm you. They are trying to do what they think is right. So the first thing we should do is be curious. Why are they doing or saying this? What kind of outcome were they hoping for? If you can be curious, If you can ask questions, if you can try to understand, you can have sympathy.

He goes on to say that they may have the same value system as you, and it’s very possible they may be right. If so, then that’s information you can use. If they aren’t, you can simply take what they said as information and do nothing with it.

You may find that they have a very different value system than you, so they may be very misguided in their criticism and therefore deserve your compassion.

Now I know this is not easy. I struggle with this a lot. Even today, my partner was frustrated with me about my lack of communication of my plans for the day. At first, I could feel myself getting defensive. But rather than fighting back, I took some time to ask myself, “What is she trying to accomplish? What can I learn from this?”

And what I learned was that she wanted me to let her know how my day was planned because part of that impacted her. Her frustration came because I’m not all that good about blocking out time for the things I need to get done, which bleeds into other activities, or pushes things back when others are waiting on me.

Taking time to frame difficult conversations as a time to learn is not easy. We don’t like those uncomfortable feelings, that feeling of being wrong, or that we messed up. But all that means is that there is something to learn, and we should always be willing to learn.