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    • drummonds

      Some years ago I heard Tim Ferris comment on Stoicism, something about which he is passionate. It took long for that comment to germinate and grow in my mind into an interest in the subject. Just today I finished my first book on Stoicism and am curious if others are interested.

      First thing is Stoicism (big S) is not stoicism (little s). Stoicism is a philosophy first aimed at developing virtue. And later, by the Romans who adopted it, Stoicism helped people ensure tranquility. Below are five thoughts on Stoicism, which I'm sure can help some.

      1. You are the source of your own happiness. Millions of people worse off than you are happy. And millions of people with vastly more resources and opportunities are miserable. It is not your conditions but your mental state that determines happiness.
      2. To get off the emotionally depressing treadmill of ambitions in this material world, learn to appreciate what you have and not obsess on what you do not. This can be done with a technique called negative visualization.
      3. Learn to triage important events. Prioritize the events for which you have complete control (like reading). Do not give thought to events for which you have no control (tomorrow's stock market). And for events in your partial control, internalize your goals and work towards them, not the external outcome. For instance, commit to two hours of practice for a presentation instead of a certain response from the audience.
      4. Think not of the past or even your current situation. They are beyond your control. But the future is yours to shape.
      5. For life's upsetting moments--an insult, an argument, an inconsiderate partner--it is possible for reason to triumph over emotion. But it takes time, practice, and more techniques than I'll include in this summary.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      Fascinating!! Stoicism is one of those words where I wonder, why didn't I ever think to ask what it really meant? It seems incredible to me that I have a vague recollection of seeing it capitalized but didn't think to ask if the capitalized version was somehow different from the common version (enduring pain and hardship without complaint). I never associated Stoicism with happiness.

      Anyway, thanks for the summary. It was great for me because even though I read a lot of books, the flood of good new ones is so high there's no way to keep up. So to decide what to read, I listen to author interviews, read summaries & reviews, and pick the small number of books I can get through.

      4. Think not of the past or even your current situation. They are beyond your control. But the future is yours to shape.

      👆That one is hard for me. Really hard. How can you let it go?

    • VR

      Wonderful summary of the lessons of Stoicism @drummonds! I have also been a big proponent of Stoicism and in fact A Guide To The Good Life is on my reading list 😉

      I would also highly recommend you to read Ryan Holiday's - The Obstacle Is The Way. It really opened up my eyes on something I've been practicing throughout my life, but now with an official name on it and a philosophy behind it.

      Love this quote from Ryan's book, which really sums up what the book is about:

      The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.

      - Marcus Aurelius

      What other books would you recommend reading on Stoicism?

    • drummonds

      4. Think not of the past or even your current situation. They are beyond your control. But the future is yours to shape.

      👆That one is hard for me. Really hard. How can you let it go?

      [doesn't appear I can nest quotes...]
      I don't think there is an easy answer for this. Clearly daily reflection on our performance the strength development exercise. I'm reminded of Ray Dalio's book Principles where he says, "Pain + Reflection = Progress". So I guess we would get better over time with the right reflection.

    • drummonds

      Loved the book recommendation, VR. I'll add it to my (long) list of reading backlog.

      What other books would you recommend reading on Stoicism?

      This is the only one I've read so far. But the author recommends going right to the primary sources next. Seneca's Letters from a Stoic seems to be the most accessible one.

    • jlevers
      Jesse Evers

      2. To get off the emotionally depressing treadmill of ambitions in this material world, learn to appreciate what you have and not obsess on what you do not. This can be done with a technique called negative visualization.

      Out of curiosity, do you interpret this as meaning that you should not have ambitions and work hard to achieve them? I find Stoicism very interesting and potentially perspective-altering, but I don't think I'd enjoy life nearly as much without ambitions to pursue. (Tim Ferriss was also the first source from which I heard anything about Stoicism.)

    • drummonds

      Out of curiosity, do you interpret this as meaning that you should not have ambitions and work hard to achieve them?

      The author knew his readers would think the same thing. And he spent time talking about ambitions in the context of Stoicism. Ambitions are great! Especially when they are aligned with our inherent virtues (logic, socializing, etc.). And progress in life against our internalized goals is 100% encouraged.

    • coffee

      4. Think not of the past or even your current situation. They are beyond your control. But the future is yours to shape.

      This is hard because simple it's probably an intentional inexactitude. Both the past and the future are not real. They can't be controlled. The only thing that can be controlled is your inner state of being according to what is going on and it's value that YOU decide.

      The Stoic schoools focus on true individuality, being 100% in charge of how you think, act and feel. We can basically only do those three things anyway. We just don't know how.

      We get tripped up because we put conditions on our inner state.
      - I'll be happy when... (future)- I would be happy if... (future)- I am not happy because... (past)

      Instead someone could possibly just recalibrate their perception of what is actually going on and possibly have a reasonably objective view of reality, which may possibly allow one to be free to experience all things with a value you determine.

      The future then is something one is "free to experience" instead of being in a state of anxiety around an idea of it being "mine to shape".

    • VR

      I'm onboard with everything that @coffee said except for one thing:

      The Stoic schoools focus on true individuality, being 100% in charge of how you think, act and feel.

      Specifically, I don't think as true individuals we are in charge of how we feel. It is something that we can influence by thinking or acting on it, but fundamentally it is a state that comes over us and of which we also have no control. It could be caused by a hormonal imbalance, fatigue or stress. So it is important to acknowledge it for what it is and to think and act to resolve it.

    • Chris

      VR, the last few days have made me seriously wonder about that. Anthony Bourdain used to say he could be at an airport and order an ordinary hamburger, and not a very good one, and just looking at it could send him into a depression that lasted 3 days. And yet from the outside looking in, it seemed he had everything someone could wish for.

      And there has been a lot of talk about YouTube stars achieving everything they've ever dreamed of and wondering how they could be so unhappy. They just seem to burn out and need a break from their sorrow. I sometimes can't explain why I'm in a great mood one day and subdued the next. It just seems to follow a rhythm.

    • coffee

      That's probably exactly why a school is/was required. It's absolutely possible.

    • Dracula

      I can't believe it Chris! I expect you to be perfectly in balance with the surroundings. lol. Without ups and downs in life we do not ever evolve. The deeper the chasm between our perception and reality, the stronger the learning experience. It's just gotta be painful, but hey that has been just my experience.

    • Dracula

      I think we can become in charge of how we feel and many do, to an extent or another. It goes back to how well a person knows themselves. Feelings are manifestations of the subconscious, but I think they have almost same physiological process as thoughts. If it's all brain chemistry how can it be so much more different.

    You've been invited!