Things change. Always have, always will. We perceive things change and usually don't care for the most part.........that is until the change inconveniences us. This episode explores what we can do with those feelings.
Want to show a force of strength so that the whole world knows beyond a shadow of a doubt just how strong you are?
Then try and forgive someone who wronged you. True forgiveness takes a lot of strength and only those who have TRULY forgiven will know how hard it is. Go ahead...try it....I double-dog dare you.
We are not superheroes. But we expect ourselves to be superhuman. Learn to accept your limitations and you will find peace and equanimity. What could be more conducive to a virtuous constitution than a mind at peace and in equanimity? If you know it, tell me cause I want to know as well.
Missing sleep? Can't fall or stay asleep? Here are some Stoic pointers to help you remedy the situation. Sleep better, get your rest so that you can be the best version of yourself that you can be the next day.
The only things for certain in life are death and taxes. Wait...if American billionaires are any indication, taxes are NOT a certainty in life. But I am yet to meet someone who has escaped death. We all have a shelf life and an expiry date, which means we have limited time as it will quite literally run out. So why do we live as if we will not run out of time?
In the western world (especially) we are PLAGUED with wanting to have more stuff and better things...better than before...better than others. But one question we forget to ask ourselves is: Do I really actually need that? Or did I just give up my hard-earned time and money in exchange for a collection of atoms that will end up in a landfill?
It is important to have goals. Whether it is a daily goal, weekly, annual, lifetime, bucket list, squad goals, etc. goals offer a general roadmap of how best to plan our time and resources. However, we must never forget that our puny efforts are of no consequence when compared to the overwhelming quantity of variables in the domain of the universe's sphere of control. So have goals. We should all have them. Just remember that the end result of your goal will almost certainly not match the idea or design you have in your mind at the onset of the goal. Aim for the target...be content to miss it as long as you tried your best. And who knows...the missed target might actually be the better one! Just keep trying and doing your best.
Some life lessons from our ancient older cousins (The Cynics). Simplify your life, make more time and find the happiness and tranquillity you seek. The episode also discusses whether Cynicism can actually be considered a philosophy.
Judge good. Not judge good. Judge bad! Not judge bad! The fact of the matter is that reality is, it doesn't matter (at least as far as the pursuit of a virtuous life is concerned). In this episode, I make a counterargument to an earlier episode.
We live once and therefore live one lifetime. You can try and extend your life through healthy lifestyle choices. But when we say "healthy lifestyle choices" we tend to only think in the physical realm (exercise, eat well, drink plenty of water, etc). We forget about the spiritual (mental) part of it. Not only can we get live multiple lifetimes by reading others' stories and perspectives, but reading itself has some significant positive impact on our lives (i.e. it is a healthy lifestyle choice).
Your journal is your most powerful tool, so make sure you use one! Your journal is your most powerful tool, so make sure you use one! Your journal is your most powerful tool, so make sure you use one! Your journal is your most powerful tool, so make sure you use one! Your journal is your most powerful tool, so make sure you use one! You get the point.
Our school delineates steps and tools to attain peace of mind. OK. Can we just follow the steps then to attain peace of mind within the day? Is Stoicism a script to be followed and applied once with results for perpetuity? We all know by now, the answer is (unfortunately) no. Look we know what to do, but we are human beings. We cannot be perfect or sages. So just keep pushing in the right direction (towards virtue) no matter how much push back you get.
It's all in the title. The formula our school teaches us for happiness is very straightforward: Figure out what it is that will bring you virtue, and go out there and do it again and again. Simple concept, sure. But so so very hard in its application. So let's break things down a little in this episode.
You have ideas, thoughts and opinions. And when you decide on an opinion, you don't come to it lightly. You evaluate, consider and mull over your options (hopefully) before you come to a conclusion on what your opinions are. But even with all that reflection can you be certain that your opinions are the ultimately correct ones?
We tend to think of virtue and sagehood as stick in the mud, boring type monotone people. However, nothing in the rulebook says you must not have fun in order to cultivate a more virtuous self. In fact, it is quite the opposite. A little entertainment is not only okay, but necessary. So R&R in reasonable and consistent doses can be actually beneficial to you in your pursuit of a better self. Yes, you heard it right.....this episode makes a case for letting loose (like drinking wine) being a necessary tool for virtue.
Seneca say, Prokopton do. Just another reminder that our efforts and intentions are all that matter. Virtue is not found in the result of said actions, as the results depend on much more than our mere efforts. But our intentions are entirely within our control.
We exist in these bio-suits we call bodies, and these vessels come with prebuilt survival mechanisms. Some are physical (e.g. you flinch when something is thrown at you without thinking about it) and others are psychological (e.g. emotions). Emotions are precoded in our genes and have helped our ancestors survive. But in our modern-day and age they are outdated. We can't get rid of the emotions as they are tied to the body and we can't exist without the body(...yet). So when you have an emotional reaction to something, try and get back to your self quickly and be rational. Reject the knee jer reaction (Proto emotion) and respond with your rational mind (the real you).
Being wrong is the BEST! I know, I know, as a society we hate to admit we are wrong. This is no surprise given that we are pitted against one another and goated to outdo the competition (i.e. our fellow human beings). But in reality, we are always wrong. And being wrong is the best because it gives us an opportunity to improve ourselves. How can we be better without identifying something that is wrong or that requires improvement! So I love being wrong because it is the first step to becoming better and offers an immediate source for improvement.
We are social animals with a capacity for reason. If virtue is working towards the betterment of humanity, then building relationships with our fellow cosmopolitans becomes a necessity. If we want to lead by example, if we want to share our knowledge with the most number of people and if we are looking to enjoy this journey we’re on called life, we should work actively to try and make new friends along the way, make new acquaintances, or open up new avenues for communication.
No matter what you're pursuing in life, the ultimate cost is time. Given that time is the ultimate resource we have and that it is the only resource we cannot replenish, we should take the time to think rationally about how we spend our time. Make a conscious effort to spend your time wisely in the most value-added way possible.
Being busy is a siren call we all fall prey to. But being busy does not mean we are being productive. And being productive without a goal, purpose or plan is does not necessarily mean we are being virtuous or that we are living a good life worthy of living. Take a moment to objectively and consciously identify what's truly important to you in your life right Here and Now.
Whether introverted or extraverted, we are all guilty of dodging social gatherings sometimes. Whether we look for excuses to leave early, cancel at the last minute, or avoid them altogether, we all too often pass up on an opportunity to cultivate our relationships. Epictetus reminds us this is a reaction of our primitive minds...not us. Especially today, it is still possible to interact with people while wearing a mask and social distancing.
We are all aware of the perils of social media, but we can also acknowledge it can be a great and powerful tool. So avoiding social media would not be a good choice, we have much to benefit from it. Instead we should try and make conscious decisions on how and when we use social media.
We all want to be kind. And we all like to think we are a kind person. Yet most of us do not prioritize looking for acts of kindness throughout our days. Time is short so if you want to be a kind person, look for an active way in which to be kind for other people. It's easy to be kind when it's called upon, but you can definitely find additional proactive ways to be kind. And you should do this simply because you can.
We tend to judge our accomplishments on results. Even when it comes to our moral decision making, we tend to look at the final result in evaluating how good/bad we were. However, let us never forget that results are not entirely dependent on us. Intentions for actions are entirely within our control, but as results get away from us in time and space, the less control we have over the final result.
If your goal is to improve yourself and make yourself better, do it with a sense of urgency, for you do not have much time left in this temporal existence. Every day we die...one day closer to the final death. So don't waste time. Make your virtue and bettering yourself a priority and actively work on it as often as you can.
Our bodies and our minds are like tools or muscles. We use them to perceive the world external to our thoughts, and we use them to interact with the same external world. As with any tool or muscle, overuse without rest and repair, we can damage them...some times even beyond repair. So take care of your mind, which we tend to neglect. And take care of your body. It is not selfish to rest sometimes. It is virtuous because it helps you be a better person.
It is undeniable that who we hang out with impacts our personality. One way or another, tow people who spend time with each other will rub off certain traits on now another. Some people will absorb more than other, but everyone gets affected by the company they keep. So make a conscious effort in who you spend time with and how you spend it. Give yourself the best chance to be virtuous.
We exist in these imperfect vessels we call a body. These bodies come with their own emotions and defence mechanisms. As such, it is impossible to be emotionless. We will always have knee-jerk emotional responses, this we cannot change. We can, however, control how quickly we get back to ourselves. So try and curb your body's response as quickly as you can and get back to being a reasonable rational person.
It is up for debate whether our free-will is an illusion or a real thing. But one thing is for sure: From our perspective, we feel like we definitely have free-will. Life essentially can be boiled down to making choices and decisions in the present moment. So use your free-will actively.
Addictions...we all have them. Some are more obvious, others more clandestine. Here is an opportunity to identify one, accept it distracts us from being mindful in the present moment, and actively work to remove it with a reasonable short term goal.
We often forget that there are 7.6 billion other people on this planet. We get so lost in our own self-involvement. This episode is all about recognizing other people and their own journeys and supporting them.
The more my island of knowledge grows, so does my shore of ignorance. Knowledge is power and philosophy is the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. However, we make the grave mistake of overestimating our knowledge. The same way Socrates was the wisest man in all of Athens because he knew what he did not know, we must admit not only what we do not know, but also that what we know can be improved upon.
I received a great question (voicemail) from a listener that I had to take some time to answer. We keep saying "Nothing can be good or bad" yet we also preach moral goodness. How can we reconcile the two?
A special COVID-19 release:
I've released two episodes to help with the current Pandemic situation and give some very pertinent Stoic practices to help you through these uncertain, anxious and though times. Here are five additional useful Stoic practices for you.
A special COVID-19 release:
I'm releasing two episodes to help with the current Pandemic situation and give some very pertinent Stoic practices to help you through these uncertain, anxious and though times.
Here's the final exercise for Season 1 of Stoicism for a Better Life, and boy is it a doozie! Let's walk through a logical mental exercise to narrow down what it is we can actually and tangibly do to live the best possible life we can.
Being tough, having self-control (say enough to be able to take cold showers) and depriving yourself of luxuries is NOT virtuous. Virtue is found in our effort, not in our self-punishment. However, often a virtuous mindset will lead to a simpler life. The motivation, however, remains the gauge for whether your act is virtuous or not.
Although we can't really control our proto-emotions (your knee jerk reactions to stimuli), we really do have a choice to gain back control of our emotions and means. Even when something "bad" happens, we can always find something "good" to find in that situation to focus on. We can and should make a conscious and concerted effort to think more positively when possible. This is how we can shift our emotional spectrum to a healthier one.
We tend to busy ourselves thinking we will get more out of life. But one who enjoys life gets more from it then one who employs it (Lao Tzu). However, our time is very limited, so we don't want to be lethargic. We want to accomplish good things that are truly meaningful to us. So let us identify what these reasons are and make sure we are busy working towards them, as opposed to working towards the wrong reasons.
You've heard me say it time and time again: Virtue is not about perfection, but about trying your best. In order to try your best, however, you must make good decisions and judgments as often as possible. To that end, we must make an effort to use our time purposefully, in order to be the best we can be, as often as we can be.
Why are you listening to this podcast? I've heard them myself, and it can't possibly be for my voice. No, you're here listening to this in order to better yourself through the use and application of philosophy. Philosophy, then, is not a trifle, game or form of entertainment. Embrace it as a guide for life that should be used and applied more regularly, for more regular results.
All anxieties stem from the fundamental error of wanting something we cannot want. Wishing and hoping for a different reality, where things or events are more favorable to us is nonsensical. Another reality doesn't exist. Things can't be any different. So it we can learn to accept the way things are and not wish for things out of our control, then we can easily ditch our anxieties.
We are not guilty of not having enough time. We are guilty of spending time in the wrong places. Although habits can be a good thing, can we reclaim some time form our habits to divert towards more virtuous ventures?
You would be surprised how often we let looks affect our judgment about people, things, events, etc. To be a good, fair and just human being, we must learn to shed our biases based on looks and try and see the world more objectively.
As Shakespeare famously said, " there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking it makes it so." Things and events external to our judgments and thoughts are just that: Externals. They don't actually go in your brain and make you think one way nor the other. So events by themselves are not good or bad, only our judgments about them are. In that case, why not cast away your judgments and be at peace?
Have you ever stopped to consider that anger is merely a refusal to accept what is actually happening? As far as us human beings can perceive, there is only one timeline with one reality happening going in one direction. If there is one reality, that we can't change no matter what, then complaining about it is our own fault, for complaining about it is merely not accepting reality the way it is.
Virtue is being rational, honest and honourable. Spending our very precious time in a virtuous way means working for the betterment of humanity. But acts of virtue do not need to be grandiose or impactful in a major way. Virtue can be found and practiced everywhere. We can even find it in the entertainment we choose.
Virtue is being rational, honest and honourable. Spending our very precious time in a virtuous way means working for the betterment of humanity. But acts of virtue do not need to be grandiose or impactful in a major way. Virtue can be found and practiced everywhere, including in what you eat.
Virtue is being rational, honest and honourable. Spending our very precious time in a virtuous way means working for the betterment of humanity. But acts of virtue do not need to be grandiose or impactful in a major way. Virtue can be found and practiced everywhere. We can find virtue in the meaningful conversations we have during meals.
Welcome to Stoicism for a Better Life. In this episode, I will discuss the purpose of the podcast series, what to expect from future episodes, how to use future episodes and how to interact with the community if you so choose.