I’ve been inspired to learn about Stoicism for a while.
The problem I’ve had is that it’s one of those topics that people love to complicate. The reason for the complication is that many of the teachings that come from Stoicism are spoken in English from a long time ago. I personally don’t have the patience to read this type of writing for long periods.
That’s why I’m going to debunk Stoicism for you in stupidly simple terms. The wisdom you get will transform you. You’ll gain a different perspective that will help you in all aspects of life.
“Everyone is preaching advice, but no one is sharing wisdom – that’s what Stoicism is”
What is Stoicism?
It’s an ancient form of philosophy. It was made famous in recent years again by Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday from the USA. These two gentleman credit a lot of their success to the wisdom that Stoicism taught them.
Stoicism began on a stoa which means porch to you and I. A stoa is where the early teachings of Stoicism started.
Here is Stoicism broken down into insanely simple dot points:
– Stoicism is focused on uncomplicated theories of life
– Stoicism is so clear that you can take action from the advice immediately
– Study is not required to understand Stoicism
– The most read Stoic is Lucius Seneca. Marcus Aurelius is also very popular
Stoicism doesn’t focus on the negative like modern-day self-help advice does. Stoicism is more a meditative practice that allows us to take the negative feelings we experience, and turn them into thoughts that give us peacefulness and perspective on life.
The most important part of learning Stoicism is having the right state of mind. Just like in life, the right state of mind can help us look at challenges in the best possible way.
At the crux of Stoicism is a list of reminders and words of wisdom that show how to live a good life. It’s not an argument about what is right and what is wrong. The Stoics had no time for this way of thinking.
Okay so now let’s skip ahead to the best lessons you can learn from Stoicism:
We don’t control events, but we do control what they mean.
This is a famous teaching from a lot of Tony Robbins work too. Everything that happens in your life can be controlled by your own mind to be good or bad. Once you understand this teaching, you can take back the power. You become less reactive and a lot calmer. You have the upper hand.
Disruptions to serenity cannot be avoided.
Tranquillity can never be reached by avoiding or blocking out distractions or horrible events. The way to get to that tranquil place is through your choices and judgment about those events and situations.
You must disrupt yourself.
Doing things the way they’ve always been done will lead you to be disrupted by someone or something who changes with the environment. Operating out of habit means you’ve stopped thinking and are mindlessly drifting through life. This means you’re not in control.
“When you lose control, your environment determines your results”
There’s a good chance that you’re going to think these results suck. The lesson here is break your habits, get out of your comfort zone and disrupt yourself like a cool, hip startup from Silicon Valley.
In good and bad times we have a choice.
Whether you’re in jail or an entrepreneur running the most successful startup on the planet, you have a choice. We all come from different backgrounds and we’ll all go through major highs, and painstaking lows. Through all of these different circumstances, we have a choice.
It’s having the freedom of choice that will set us free in the long run. It’s that freedom of choice that will ensure you don’t waste your life away thinking about stuff you can’t control. You’ll always feel the power of freedom when you control your choices, no matter what life throws at you.
Make it a habit of looking inward.
Stoics are obsessed with taking time to look inward. It’s something they advocate above all of their other teachings. They suggest spending time in the morning to ask yourself questions about your life. As you do this, you’ll find the answers to life’s biggest questions become clearer in the context of your own life.
Looking inward helps you find the answers that you knew all along and thought were hidden inside of someone else, or something else. This practice will only work if you’re honest with yourself. Don’t be too brutal on yourself either. Realize that we all start somewhere and it’s where we can go that is the greatest gift we can enjoy.
Being paranoid and fearful will destroy you.
The antidote to fear and paranoia is self-control. Learn to control your impulses. If you become fearful that others will sabotage your success and you don’t remain in control over these fearful thoughts, you’ll lose sight of reality. These fearful thoughts will cause you to project your fears onto other people and they’ll give you exactly what you fear.
In simple terms, fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you put out comes right back at you.
Anger will not help you.
The Stoics believe that getting angry never gives you anything in return. Anger wastes your precious energy and resources, and provides no tangible benefit. This is why it’s better to practice non-reactivity rather than being pissed off at something you can’t control anyway.
Anger is like a contagious virus that spreads if you let it. Don’t let anger control you. Projecting anger on people can only result in you projecting anger on yourself. That’s why anger is also another self-fulfilling prophecy.
Everything takes up space.
Seneca wrote many times that even things you get for free have a cost. That cost is space – space in your garage or even space in your mind.
“Learning to live with less will create space in your life for the things that truly matter to you”
The aim of the game is to look at your material possession and be honest with yourself: do you really need that object? If the answer is no, free some space up in your life. What Seneca says here is the reason I have personally given away and sold most of my possessions. I’ve never been happier.
Especially during prosperous times in your life, the Stoics believe you should practice poverty. This is how you prepare for hardship and become an expert in dealing with the ups and downs of life. Comfort can become a form of slavery because you consistently start to think that someone could take away what you have.
When you’re familiar with what you fear, it no longer controls you. The worst can happen and you go through it with a sense of calmness and ease. People think you’re resilient but actually, you’ve just practiced the hard times as preparation.
Quick tip: try eating a really cheap meal for a whole week every two months. Eat like you have almost no money. This will teach you to not only appreciate the nice meals but to be okay if you ever face poverty and have to live on very little money for a while. I know a few people that do a beans and rice meal for this week of living it rough. Try it!
You protect everything you have, why not your mind?
You don’t give away your wallet to a stranger on the street. You don’t hand the keys to your car over to a budding thief. You wouldn’t let your house be demolished by the council without a fight. So why would you hand over the keys to your mind so easily to any stranger who wants them?
You have to become aware of who you are unconsciously giving your mind over to. You need to realize who is influencing you in a negative way without knowing it.
“Your mind can create all the abundance you could ever imagine, so you need to protect it like it’s the only possession you have”
Don’t wreck the purpose of your life by trying to impress others.
The Stoics teach that the opinions of people you seek our to impress are not that great themselves. These people you seek to impress have addictions, their own problems, and are no wiser than the next person. The purpose of your life is not to impress people and doing so will have the opposite effect.
Focus on impressing yourself through personal growth and wisdom from people who serve the greater good. Go beyond yourself and avoid the need to seek approval. Take action and seek forgiveness later if you must.
Without proper training, you’re a fool.
If you seek to master a skill, then without proper training you will (by default) rely on ignorance, and you’ll act in a way that lacks discipline and requires chance.
“An investor without discipline is not an investor – he’s a gambler” – Ryan Holiday
Your mind becomes what you think consistently.
Whether you think mostly negative thoughts or positive thoughts will determine your default response to any situation. The more we practice negative thinking, the more likely we are to see the world as negative.
If we choose to practice nothing, then we also get the same outcome of an influx of negative thoughts. The only wise choice then is to practice seeing the good in everything. Start with being grateful
You don’t know everything.
This is a thought that many people secretly have when they claim they want to learn something new. The harsh reality is that many of us walk around as though we know everything. We know nothing of the infinite knowledge there is to acquire.
That sort of humbleness is where all the best learning starts from. Thinking less of yourself is the ultimate power: it’s where you can grow from and serve others. It’s this way of thinking that births leaders.
Think of your problems in relation to the sky.
Marcus Aurelius says that the stars wash away the dust of earthly life. This Stoic concept is a way for you to clear your mind of all the troubles you encounter day-to-day. In comparison, your problems are so small compared to the immense size of the universe.
Your problems don’t matter in the grand scheme of things so don’t fool yourself into believing they do. Look at the stars once in a while. Remember how lucky we are even to experience this planet we call Earth.
Forget stereotypes and labels: concentrate on character.
Stoics believe your character should be your most prominent feature. Outward traits such as skin color and clothing should be insignificant. Your character is defined by the work you do on yourself each day and the person you become.
Your character is what sells you as a person better than any other external force. Your character is your legacy. Your character is what you want to be known for.
Don’t sit on the sidelines. Do something inspirational yourself.
You can sit here all day and listen to me inspire you. You can watch all the inspirational videos that Youtube has to offer. What would be far better is to go out there and inspire people yourself rather than being inspired.
Take the inspiration you’ve gathered in your life and do something with it so you can allow others to create their own inspirational journey. Be the example rather than only listening to the example and saying “One day I’ll do that.”
There is never an end to the personal development journey.
You never reach mastery. The student never stops being a student. Even the teacher is still a student at heart. Stoicism is something you apply consistently, and it never ends. You apply it until the day you die and that’s how you gain the infinite wisdom it offers.
“You’ll never drink all the water in the ocean, just like you’ll never learn everything there is to know about Stoic philosophy and that’s fine too”
Work is good for you.
Ever heard that when people retire, they are statistically more likely to die within a few years of achieving this milestone in their life? That’s because work gives us a sense of purpose. Work gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Making progress through doing meaningful work feels good.
Too much idle time and the delusion that you can get rich and sit on a beach is what can cause you to feel empty inside. This feeling can cause you to have self-destructive thoughts that lead to an immense focus on one’s selfish desires and need for significance. In other words, work is good.
Don’t make life harder than it is. It’s your choice.
Choices are what stoics believe are the way to take a shortcut in life. They believe we can choose whatever we want including happiness, freedom, respect and feelings of being wealthy. The reoccurring theme here again is that we are in control of everything that happens and how we feel.
How you handle disaster is everything.
The way you deal with problematic situations is a true test of your character. Character in stoicism is not formed when everything is going right; character is formed when everything is going wrong. Don’t let problems spoil your mindset. Let optimism guide you in all situations.
Seek out obstacles.
Obstacles are a way for you to take a challenge that you may not like and use it as a lesson that can help you for the rest of your life. You learn from hardships above all else. Lessons from hardships make you smarter, stronger and better prepared for when adversity strikes again.
You have one job and only one job.
The Stoics have a core belief that all of us have only one job on Planet Earth: to be a good human being. If you learned nothing else about stoicism from this blog post, then I’ve succeeded.
Practice being a good human being and you’ll have one hell of a life.
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net
8 Things You Can Do to Rise Above Failure and Attain Success
Highly successful people have tasted failure more than success. Whether its Nikola Tesla or Michael Jordan, everyone had his/her fair share of failures before rising to the pinnacle of success. Yet, most people I know are averse to the idea of failure.
When ambition fuels your desires, you become so conscious about avoiding failure that you forget to learn how to cope with it when you actually experience it. So, when you come face-to-face with adversity, it often overwhelms you.
This brings us to the question, how can you train yourself to overcome these difficulties and use them to your advantage? Here’s how:
1. Acceptance is important to overcome failure
When the going gets tough, one of the most frustrating things you may get to hear is “stay positive.” The idea of positive thinking has been misconstrued, misused, and abused continuously. Contrary to popular belief, positive thinking has nothing to do with smiling and being happy with everything that happens to you all the time. Anyone who preaches that is either lying or crazy.
Use positive thinking to learn, grow, and evolve from the experiences we gather in life. Positive thinking simply means that if you are faced with a setback, you work hard to overcome the challenges. When you experience hardships, it is alright to feel upset and disappointed. Our objective, however, is not to stay down.
2. Be honest with yourself
The most crucial part of dealing with a failure involves pausing for a couple of minutes and pondering over what happened. You need to be completely honest with yourself on why it happened.
It is easy to pull out the Smartphone, turn on the laptop or find other forms of distraction. Most people would do anything to distract themselves and keep their eyes shut to the mistakes they have made.
However, if you don’t confront, you don’t learn. And if you don’t learn, then you are setting yourself up for failure again. Albert Einstein famously stated that it was insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome. If you don’t derive a lesson out of mistakes and failures in life, then you are doomed to keep repeating them, whether you realise it or not.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
3. Don’t beat yourself up over a temporary setback
When you have experienced a setback, many of you may succumb to the feeling that you’ll always keep failing. It is easy to convince yourself that you are indeed a failure. Don’t let such destructive ideas or thoughts creep into your head. Instead, keep reminding yourself that just because you failed today, it doesn’t mean you’d fail the next time as well.
It is also important that you treat your failure as a passing phase. When you keep moving forward, focus on the right things, and keep learning. Perceiving the setback as a temporary phase rather than something permanent is vital to developing an optimistic attitude in life.
4. Focus on nurturing and improving yourself
Failures don’t discriminate, and it comes to everyone at some point. The trick lies in learning to deal with it and what you do about it that makes all the difference. In many cases, failure happens because a person wasn’t prepared, didn’t invest time on planning or was ill-equipped. It can also be because Lady Luck decided not to shower her favours.
Except for the last one, the rest of the issues can be fixed. Prepare a list of all the things that you think resulted in your failure. Start working on them one at a time. Do everything in your capacity to rectify, improve, resolve, and develop.
5. Find inspiration and support in abundance
Interacting with someone close can be more helpful than you think. You can also learn from people who have been through similar situations and have achieved what you hope to. Gain insights on how they managed to sail through the setbacks or low-points before and during the moment of success.
Or you can gain the motivation or enthusiasm by listening to someone else from an audiobook or podcast for maybe 30-60 minutes. It doesn’t have to be focused on your current setbacks. Change your mood and mindset back towards optimism again.
6. Adopt a constructive approach and learn from the adverse situation
Consider it as valuable feedback and take home something you can implement in the process of overcoming your failure. The following are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:
- What is the lesson for me?
- How can I rectify myself to avoid making the same mistake and do better next time?
- What can I do to enjoy guaranteed success?
You don’t need to rush through the process. Some of the answers may be immediate, while others might take an hour, a day or even a week to pop up. The significant thing is to start thinking about the situation from this perspective. Also, you need to be constructive about things rather than getting stuck with denial, negativity and apathy.
7. Stop mulling over and move on
Processing the situation and accepting it is the ideal way to deal with failures. Any individual who has experienced failures will know that it is quite easy to stay stuck in the loop of similar thoughts. In fact, this may go around and around for weeks or even months.
Now, in order to be free from this trap, the one habit that might help you is the set of questions like the ones shared above. You can also create a rough plan for how you wish to move forward from here. So, take some time to sit down and write them down.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
8. Purge out all the negativity
Another impactful way to handle the emotional meltdown and the thoughts that emerge from experiencing failure is to purge out all the negativity. In order to let everything out, you need to confide in someone close to you. There are two ways to go about it: Engaging in a conversation with someone will allow you to see it from a different perspective. The person you talk to can assist you in grounding yourself in reality again and motivate you to look for a way forward.
Or you can simply vent about it while the other person who is listening can sort things out for you. He/she can help you accept what happened and boost your spirit by instilling a sense of hope.
The significant thing to remember is that while you can’t stop obstacles from appearing in life, you can devise smart ways to handle them. If you persevere, you can easily discover opportunities that have been waiting for you on the other side. Now, as you become more efficient at dealing with the failures, you will allow yourself to see the positive side in even the toughest of scenarios.
How Stress Can Actually Improve the Quality of Your Life
Naturally, those of us who experience less stress in our lives are more likely to succeed. So, it’s important that you learn how to reduce your daily level of stress, right? Maybe not. Recent research has shown the common wisdom about stress might be dangerously inaccurate. Psychologists tracked the health of 30,000 adults in the United States over an 8-year period. Participants were asked two important questions:
1. “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
2. “Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?” (more…)
The Truth About the Law of Attraction
When we want something, we generally imagine the form it will take when it manifests. If we’re not careful, however, we can find ourselves attached more to the imagined form than the actual desired outcome. This is like placing an online order and expecting it to come in a blue box shipped by UPS. If we then receive a red box delivered by FedEx, we might not realize that it’s what we ordered, and never even open it!
For example, most of us say that we want money, but when money comes in the form of a free coffee or a gift or a discount, we don’t see it for what it is. We overlook it, and maybe we even say “No, thanks” and decline the gift which is, in one way or another, still money. In doing so, we fail to appreciate the value of the discount, the gift, or the freebie. If it isn’t cash being handed to us, we don’t see it as a manifestation of our desire.
The law of attraction is a funny thing.
It is much more complex and much more intricate than what it seems to be and yet, at the same time, it’s so very simple: We always get what we want. We always receive more of the energy at which we vibrate. Always.
However, if we’re acting from the energy of “I don’t deserve it” or “I don’t think I’m worthy,” then whatever it is that we receive will be negated and essentially unseen. On the other hand, if we are open, observant, and maintaining an abundance mindset, we will receive our request on numerous levels and from plentiful sources!
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill
This is because we “place our order” not only through our words, but through our actions, our beliefs, and our thoughts.
Last month, I was open to receiving a new client. I didn’t know how it would happen, but I’d set my intention: I was going to get a new client. That night, out of nowhere, I got a message from an old student of mine. She was looking to hire me again as her coach for the upcoming college entrance exams in the U.S. But wait! I didn’t want an entrance exam client.
What I actually wanted was to get life and business coaching clients. This student was my “red box from Fed Ex.” I wanted to decline at first, but as I was about to reply, something made me stop. I asked myself, “Why am I rejecting this?”
This student is an amazing client. She pays on time. She’s not needy. She does her part. Best of all? She doesn’t short-change me. So I said yes, because I realized that the Universe was simply responding to the essence of my desire.
You see, my “Big Why” in everything I do has always been to facilitate an accelerated personal and business growth for my clients, and this student fit the bill in every way. She wanted the personal growth, she was ready to go all in and she reached out to me.
It didn’t look like the package I was expecting so I didn’t recognize it at first—and I nearly turned it away—but she was the perfect answer to my request.
Serving people like her has always been a driving force in my life.
The Universe knows that. It also knew that I wanted a client asap so that I could re-invest the money into my business, so it responded in the most ideal way… but in an unexpected form. And I came so close to missing it!
How many times have I missed other opportunities like this? How many times have I dismissed a “red box” because it wasn’t “blue?” I’ll never know. But I do know that, had I not stopped myself from sending a “No, thanks,” I would have felt as though the Universe wasn’t listening.
That’s the thing: the Universe is always listening.
The more open we are in receiving, the more we thrive. The more open our energy is, the greater the possibilities. Don’t just return that red box to the post office and keep waiting on a blue one. Ask yourself, first and foremost, if what you’re receiving at the moment matches up with your underlying desire.
See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it.” – Rhonda Byrne
The key is to be willing to receive anything and everything. How? Keep on reading1
1. Get clear on your “underlying desire.”
Identify exactly what it is that you really want—in my case, it was an ideal client (underlying) as opposed to a coaching client (surface)—and focus on that. Clear out all the mental noise and static that clouds your awareness.
2. Be flexible
Keep your eyes and mind open for anything that fits the description. When you ask for money, recognize that free coffee for what it is: $3 you were going to spend anyway, that can now remain in your pocket. Every penny on the ground, every coupon, it’s all money.
3. Keep an attitude of gratitude.
The more you appreciate what you have, the more that comes your way. Your grateful mindset opens the energetic door for more to flow your way, because “where attention goes, energy flows.” The more you focus on the things you want, the more you will draw them into your experience.
Remember, that the Universe responds to our requests in whatever way fits best within the big picture.
It’s a picture so big that we couldn’t possibly begin to see how it comes together. Trust it. Know that when you ask, you will receive. It may not come in the form you anticipate, but always in a form that responds to your underlying desire. You just have to be ready to see it.
7 Simple Ways to Master Your Emotions When Making Decisions
A lot of people have big regrets when lying on their deathbed. These regrets are often related to bad decisions or decisions not taken. Thus, as it turns out, decision-making is dependent on great self-confidence. A person who has confidence in their decisions has an easier time making them.
Emotions also play a big role in all of this. This is a debate that has confronted two great thinkers. According to Descartes, “decisions are the product of the rational mind.” In other words, decision-making is essentially based on facts and mathematics.
But this thesis was refuted and proven to be wrong by Antonio Damasio in one of his works called “The Error of Descartes”. This was partly based on the story of Elliott, a kid that was very smart, who had above average rational capabilities, but incapable of making a decision, after a surgery to remove a brain tumor on the surface of his frontal lobes. After all his work in that matter, he concludes that a person who is incapable of emotion is incapable of making the most rational decisions.
The management of emotions is therefore completely inherent to good decision making, especially when making the most important decisions. To this end, here are 7 tips to put into practice to really master your emotions thus making the best decisions possible and never regreting them.
1. Take a step back
You must learn to take the time to identify and understand your emotions. Since physical reactions are emotionally related, also take the time to detect the reactions you have to some of your emotions. To be able to take the distance necessary to make decisions, it’s important to refer to your prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain responsible for reasoning. To do so you need to put yourself in a stress-free environment for a few minutes.
The best way to do this is to learn to breathe deeply. This will allow activating your prefrontal cortex again, therefore, to have better control of your emotions so you do not react to them, let alone to the event that causes these emotions. Do this exercise for at least 15 minutes. It’s amazing how you can train yourself never to react, no matter what the situation. Ideally, let at least 24 hours go by before responding to a situation that would normally cause tension.
3. Pay attention
Once you are in the prefrontal cortex, put one hand on your abdomen, at the level of your intestines, and the other hand on your heart, and take the time to listen. These two parts of the body are the two major centers of vibrations and emotions. This is why it’s important to listen and pay attention to them.
The purpose of this exercise is to become aware of your gut and heart. What you need to remember is that the only person you need to trust is yourself. By practicing this exercise, one thing will become very clear: what the emotion you feel seeks to convey to you about the decision you have to make.
Since everything is energy, first make sure that the vibration of the decision you are about to make and that of your heart and gut are in sync. You will then know whether to go ahead with your decision or reject it based on whether you feel serenity or heaviness.
4. Discern untruths
It is important to know whether your nervousness is the result of an untruth you’ve told yourself. These can corrupt the vibrations that should help you make the right decision. You have to throw out all of these untruths and come to the decision-making without any filter. Stop thinking that you’re unlucky, that you’re in a bad situation, that your life is a failure, or that you are a victim.
5. Become aware of your emotions instead of avoiding them
To become aware of your emotions, you must learn to coach yourself. Ask yourself questions: How did you feel the last time you had to ask these types of questions? What did you get in return? Rename what you felt and the result you obtained from what you decided to do. You will thus be much better at assimilating, understanding, and welcoming your emotions.
6. Be as present as possible
There is no point in focusing on the big events surrounding the decision you want to make. Concentrate instead on the present moment, without analyzing the events. Judge based on emotions rather than the event. By being more present, you will be better able to listen to your emotions and feel them.
7. Make your emotions your allies
Each of your emotions speaks to you through the physical and physiological reactions that they generate in you. Look to the weight of their impact on you as an indicator. Only by listening to them, using them, and managing them can you manage your emotions.
Habit comes with practice. With time, these 7 points will become much more natural and will become automatic. You will make better decisions for yourself. This is one of the best ways to not end up with one of the big regrets.
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