How to be Happier - Stoicism Masterclass
Oct 14, 2020
Stoicism can be applied to all areas of life, including productivity and work.
5 concrete techniques that can be applied today.
The dichotomy of Control.
Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle : Some things are within our control, and some things are not. - Epictetus, The Art of Living
If you were to go to Ikea and there were a lot of children roaming bothering you and if you were to think "Oh why is this happening to me ?", You're naturally going to be unhappy; But if you were to accept the fact that the children creating nuisance is out of your control and if you were to focus only on the factors under your control, then you can keep your tranquility, and move forward and be happy.
Circle of Influence.
There are 2 types of people,
- Reactive people -:
Focus too much on things that are outside of their own control, which would let it affect their tranquility.
- Proactive people -:
Focus only on the things under their control, so they have a more tranquil, more happy, more fulfilled, more happy life because they don't let the negative things affect their mental space.
There are only two things which are under our control,
- Our own thoughts.
- Our own actions.
Everything else is at least partially outside of our control.
If we focus only on the things under our control, life becomes more stress free, more enjoyable.
Pre Meditating Adversity.
Rather than avoiding some of the difficult thoughts about what might happen in the future, you meditate upon those potential negative things.
Psychological therapy of avoidance.(Exposure therapy)
If someone has a cat phobia and you put them in a room full of cute kittens, initially they will be horrified but after a while they will realize that its not so bad.
You meditate on the idea of the potential negative things and you, it protects us from when it actually happens.
As you kiss your son goodnight, whisper to yourself, "He may be dead in the morning" - Epictetus
It's not about fixating on the idea that your son might day, its about reminding yourself that what I've got right now is amazing and I don't wanna squander it. It makes us love the things we are doing and love the people around us because it reminds us that it may not last. It's about fostering gratitude for the things we have now.
Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness - all of them due to the offenders' ignorance of what is good or evil. - Marcus Aurelius
Meditating on the fact that we are on the tail end of some important relationships in our lives, it makes us appreciate their importance more.
While all excesses are hurtful, excess of comfort is the most hurtful of all. — Seneca, On Providence, Book IV
If we put ourselves through difficult situations, then we're prepared for the misfortunes that might come in the future.
Do what is difficult - Joe Rogan
If we experience discomfort and get through it, then we realize that "Oh this isn't actually so bad". This makes us more tranquil throughout life.
We have to embrace discomfort, if we forget to wear a jacket and its cold outside, instead of taking it in a negative point of view, we should think that we're choosing the embrace the cold air, that's how you minimize feeling negative emotions.
A View from Above
People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too. And those after them in turn. Until their memory, passed from one to another like a candle flame, gutters and goes out. - Marcus Aurelius
By imagining ourselves in the corner of the room, observing ourselves we realize that it's not a big deal.
Having a view from above and asking ourselves that if it even matters in the grand scheme of things, will this thing matter in 10 minutes time? will this thing matter in 10 days time? will this thing matter in 10 years time? asking ourselves these questions make us have bigger perspective.
We can also zoom into other's peoples perspective.
Taking the thoughts out of your mind and putting it down on a piece of paper makes you realize that whatever negative emotions you're feeling are inconsequential.
You have to write down 3 pages and if they're not complete, you aren't allowed to get out of the chair. Eg: "I will have an awesome day today because of ....."
How to deal with daily life problems such as dealing with criticism, coping with anger and how stoicism affects what other people think about us and wealth and status.
- Anger holds you back.
- The greatest remedy to anger is delay; Taking a moment to analyse the situation. Anger doesnt need to be repressed. A doctor has to be calm and collected during a surgery, not angry.
Dealing with criticism
- If someone spreads a rumour about you, just say yes. If criticism is true, then work on it, and if it isnt true then ignore it.
If it doesnt harm your character; it doesnt harm your life. - Marcus Aurelius
You should feel bad for the haters because they have no better thing to do in life.
If something bad happened and you cannot change it, you just have to accept it and you can choose to be happy or sad about it, its upto you.
Wealth, Money and Status.
Dont chase money just for the sake of it. Chase it for a bigger purpose
Love and Relationships
We should be grateful of what we have while we have it.
We can look at the things and the people we value each day with the knowledge that we will most likely lose them at some point, and love them all the more for that. One day your best friend may move away, and you may never see each other again. Loved ones may die or become estranged. Your partner, despite your promises to love each other forever, may one day leave you. Infact, it is inevitable : through death or choice, your closes relationships will end. Remembering this invites us to express our feelings to those who we love now while we can, to never take them for granted, and not to regret, when its too late, that they never know how important they were to us.- Derek Brown
Remembering this quote, we should not let meaningless things affect our relationships.
If you choose to accept the things outside of your control, you can choose to be happy because thats the path to happiness from a stoic perspective.
Once we give ourselves the permission to accept the things the way they are, everything in our life becomes much more tranquil. If something has happened and you cannot physically change it, then you have no other option but to accept it. You cannot change what happened to you, you can only change your future perspective towards it.
If you miss a workout one day, it doesn't matter if you start to be consistent from the next day.