If you have anger issues, this one is a great tool (h/t mindyourbusiness)
“You’ve endured countless troubles—all from not letting your ruling reason do the work it was made for—enough already!”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 9.26
I have enough problems sometimes. Adding to them unnecessarily is counterproductive. I said something this week that my wife got upset about. This is a rare thing for her. I am not sure what upset her, but I know she misinterpreted something I said and was a little stand offish one day. I started to get upset about that, but realized I would create more problems by getting angry at something I couldn’t control. After thinking about it this way, I acted normally towards her and by the end of the day, we were back to normal.
“Philosophy isn’t a parlor trick or made for show. It’s not concerned with words, but with facts. It’s not employed for some pleasure before the day is spent, or to relieve the uneasiness of our leisure.
It shapes and builds up the soul, it gives order to life, guides action, shows what should and shouldn’t be done—it sits at the rudder steering our course as we vacillate in uncertainties. Without
it, no one can live without fear or free from care. Countless things happen every hour that require advice, and such advice is to be sought out in philosophy.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 16.3
I don’t study Stoicism for fun. I don’t do it to impress others. I do it to improve my outlook on life and improve how I relate to the outside world. It has truly helped me to make positive improvement in many areas. I have not found a better way for me to control anger and be able to deal with external forces I cannot control.
“This can be swiftly taught in very few words: virtue is the only good; there is no certain good without virtue; and virtue resides in our nobler part, which is the rational one. And what can this virtue be? True and steadfast judgment. For from this will arise every mental impulse, and by it every appearance that spurs our impulses will be rendered clear.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 71.32
I try to be an honest person and do the “right” thing all the time. This is the foundation my version of Stoicism is based on. If I control my thoughts and desires using this, my moral code is very easy to follow. When I allow myself to think of other things, I actually have to decide to do the right thing. As long as I use proper judgement, my choices are simple and I am happier as a result.
“Just as the nature of rational things has given to each person their rational powers, so it also gives us this power—just as nature turns to its own purpose any obstacle or any opposition, sets its place in the destined order, and co-opts it, so every rational person can convert any obstacle into the raw material for their own purpose.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 8.35
Before I had surgery in December, I had swelling making it hard to work out and it was also difficult to work on my truck. I had an infection after the surgery that kept me on the couch for 8 weeks.This led to me being as weak as a kitten. I use this memory to help me work out and run on schedule. It also helped me to be more kind to my mother as she is trying to rehabilitate after chemo.
“For nothing outside my reasoned choice can hinder or harm it—my reasoned choice alone can do this to itself. If we would lean this way whenever we fail, and would blame only ourselves and remember that nothing but opinion is the cause of a troubled mind and uneasiness, then by God, I swear we would be making progress.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.19.2–3
Whose fault is it when I get angry at the world? If I can remember it is mine, I can control it and not get as angry. I also have to remember that things outside of my control do not care if I get upset, so that is a waste of energy and stress. When I talked to my mom, I did get a little heated about her concern for “cases”, but I did control myself enough to not cause a rift.
“A good person is invincible, for they don’t rush into contests in which they aren’t the strongest. If you want their property, take it—take also their staff, profession, and body. But you will never
compel what they set out for, nor trap them in what they would avoid. For the only contest the good person enters is that of their own reasoned choice. How can such a person not be invincible?”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.6.5–7
Sometimes it is wise to pick my battles. I can jump into an argument with true believers, and have no chance to show them facts and actually convince them, or I can let them talk so I can try to learn if there is a solid basis for what they believe. As long as I control my mind and reactions, no one can upset me.
“It is said that if you would have peace of mind, busy yourself with little. But wouldn’t a better saying be do what you must and as required of a rational being created for public life? For this brings
not only the peace of mind of doing few things, but the greater peace of doing them well. Since the vast majority of our words and actions are unnecessary, corralling them will create an abundance of leisure and tranquility. As a result, we shouldn’t forget at each moment to ask, is this one of the unnecessary
things? But we must corral not only unnecessary actions but unnecessary thoughts, too, so needless acts don’t tag along after them.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 4.24
What do I do that is unnecessary? I watch too much TV and YouTube. I read too much for fun and not enough for education. I also don’t believe cutting all of these out would be a benefit in the long run. It is important to be able to understand what is necessary and what is fluff and maintain a balance. As far as unnecessary thoughts, I try not to waste my thinking on immoral desires or impractical ones.
Music this week is from a band we listened to a lot on our road trip back and forth to Deep Creek Lake MD.