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Happiness and Freedom. Stoicism and Entrepreneurship, the Parallel.

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Greg R

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I am going to start and end this thread with the same question. How has philosophy helped you?

Not long ago, my college-old interest in philosophy had been rekindled. With a specific focus on Stoicism. This occurred about the same time I started becoming interested in entrepreneurship. Was this a coincidence? I think not. I would venture to guess that the same thing happend to you when you started your expedition into the Fastlane.

Many business, motivational, and self-help books are written with philosophical undertones. Now more than ever, people are starting to recognize the importance of philosophy and how it can help them achieve happiness and purpose in life. In modern day, you hear Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday talk about it. Sports teams using it. And even the military teaching it. Prominent members of society like George Washington, James Stockdale, Theodore Roosevelt, and many others were practicing Stoics.

I’ve been practicing and studying Stoicism for two years now and have noticed that there are many aspects of Stoicism that seem to translate to success in business and life.

To name a few parallels:
  • Accepting loss- Money, time, health, relationships are all things that we do not own, therefore they can be taken away from us at any point in time. It is important that we accept that loss is part of life. The quicker we can come back from a loss, the sooner we can come back stronger and ready to accomplish more.

  • Using reason and not emotion- When making decisions in your business, it is important to use your better judgement and not let your emotions get in the way.

  • Helping fellow man- All of us are trying to solve a problem by creating a product or service. Doing so helps the entire human race. We are here to do the work of humans, and that work is to help other humans.

  • Bettering yourself- It is important that you exercise, eat well, and nurture your mind. Doing this helps you help your fellow man.

  • Valuing time- Next to health, many say that time is our most valuable resource and we should spend it wisely.

  • Discipline- Quite obvious how this applies to starting a business.

False perception
When you think what is means to be Stoic, you think of someone who is; robotic and emotionless. But what you are thinking of is actually being stoic (with a lowercase “s”). The two are very different. Someone who practices Stoicism as a philosophy is actually a very happy person (outwardly). That is because Stoicism is the art of minimizing negativity in your life.

We first started down this road by asking ourselves the same question. How do I obtain freedom?

We may have even convinced ourselves that If we can obtain freedom, then we will be happy.

But the truth is, you must learn to be happy before you can achieve freedom. Otherwise no amount of money, cars, or babes with help you.

When you can be happy in any situation, then you are truly free.

Happiness is internal
Whether we recognize it or not, we search for freedom in everything external when we should be looking for freedom and happiness internally. If you you are telling yourself “If _____ happens, then I will be happy” you are going about it all wrong. All too often we get _____ or achieve ____ and are still not happy.

Take notice of when successful forum members talk about “enjoying the process.” This is what it means to learn to be happy, not matter what.

Your philosophy of life directly correlates with how you think, reason, and make everyday decisions.

This way of thinking has helped me come back from my many failures stronger and faster with each failure. It has helped me appreciate the process more, and makes me more willing to take on bigger challenges.

How has philosophy helped you in your life and business?

Conclusion: Stoicism may or may not be for you, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that having a philosophy will help you have a purpose in life and could be your key to happiness.
 

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SteveO

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It is too easy to find negativity in life. I like to take the observant approach by viewing what is happening now. We are not victims of a society that is chasing us to do harm. Look for the fun and humor when possible. Accept that things will happen, they are part of life.
 

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“The answer is, “Don’t think about it.” - Rick

I follow a stoicism/absurdism philosophy. I like Marcus aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Fyodor dostoevsky & Albert camus.
 

Greg R

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It is too easy to find negativity in life. I like to take the observant approach by viewing what is happening now. We are not victims of a society that is chasing us to do harm. Look for the fun and humor when possible. Accept that things will happen, they are part of life.

@SteveO, I always love your insights.

Living in the now and "being present" is great advice. Too many people get wrapped up in things that may happen in the future.

Played the victim card seems to be a self fulfilling prophecy. If you are focused on all that is negative, negative things will happen to you. That is because a negative event and a positive even are both opinions. Negative people always seem to find ways to take what would be a seemingly great thing, and turn it into a tragedy. It is probably best to avoid these folks at all costs (even if they are family).
 

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I tend to be a super emotional guy.

Not in a "victim" way, but just your "everyday a**hole" kind of way.

In other words, I'm not very good at minimizing negativity in my life. I cause 99% of it.

Thanks for the reminder. Good thread for sure.
 

Greg R

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I tend to be a super emotional guy.

Not in a "victim" way, but just your "everyday a**hole" kind of way.

In other words, I'm not very good at minimizing negativity in my life. I cause 99% of it.

Thanks for the reminder. Good thread for sure.

I used to be the same way. I felt that my position in life wasn't not good enough, even though 99% of people would probably be content with what I have... Having a job made me bitter, and my long commute just added insult to injury. I literally started and ended my day in a bad mood, and I took that mood home with me. Now, I am learning to accept my current position in life but at the same time am working diligently to improve it. Every aspect; family, health, and financial.

You can change your mood and your general demeanor by practicing being thankful for what you have right now. Not matter how little. Learning to appreciate your current situation can prevent a lot of anger. Another way the Stoics put it is called negative visualization. This is where you practice losing things that you really care about. You do this to prepare yourself for the loss and to make yourself more appreciative of that thing or person. Think about losing a family member, your home, your investments. What then?

Humble yourself.
 

MidwestLandlord

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I felt that my position in life wasn't not good enough, even though 99% of people would probably be content with what I have... Having a job made me bitter, and my long commute just added insult to injury.

Humble yourself.

I'm never content with ANYTHING.

And yeah, 99% of people would be content with what I have...but I'm not.

Now that you put it this way, maybe I do have a victim mentality...just not in the "cry baby" sort of way.

Hmmm....
 

Greg R

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I'm never content with ANYTHING.

Maybe all you have to do is re-frame the way you think about things.

There is a difference in telling yourself;
that you are not happy because your are not content
verses
you are still happy even though you are not content.

I like to think about it like this:
I am happy with what I already have, but I am always going to try my best to make my situation even better.

Before Stoicism, I used to think to myself:
I am unhappy because my situation isn't better.

This led me to spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Constantly being upset that I wasn't making any progress. I was basically trapped inside myself.

The main lesson here is that I have some degree of control of my situation, but not total control. Therefore I should not think about it to the point of becoming anxious and pissed off. It is the same thing as seeking happiness externally verses internally. Your situation is external. Your opinion of your situation is internal.

I hope that helps.
 

Greg R

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Before Stoicism:

This (external object) makes me unhappy.

After Stoicism:

I'm using (external object) to make myself unhappy.

Maybe I am missing something, but both of the above sound like the same thing.

*(external object) should have no effect on happiness.*
 

AvocadoMan

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Letters from a Stoic by Seneca helped me through a lot of troublesome times. The book, when understood, gives you a new perspective on life and builds a kind of mental armour to help you face adversity.

I highly recommend it.
 

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Maybe I am missing something, but both of the above sound like the same thing.

*(external object) should have no effect on happiness.*

Eg.

"He makes me angry."

Vs.

"I'm using him to make myself angry."

First represents blame and outer locus of control. The second represents responsibility and inner locus of control.

Not sure how to make it any clearer.
 

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The philosophy from which I've learned the most is Objectivism... Most notably, the rational epistemology and ethics. Learning how to think and how to act according to proper principles in order to develop virtues of character are crucial for a man.
 

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Had a shitty yesterday where another person behaved in a way that troubled me greatly. Caught myself and used stoicism to recognize I really can't control other peoples behaviour.
Was able to drop my bad mood and self-pity I was falling into and go to sleep happy.

I have two Stoicism quotes by Epictetus on the wall at home.

First is : Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

Second is: Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us.

Everybody gets the first one and nobody gets the second one.
 

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First is : Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

Second is: Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us.

Everybody gets the first one and nobody gets the second one.

At a church function a few weeks ago, someone asked the group "Raise you're hand if the level of worrying in your life is a 1 out of 5". I was the only one out of 20 to raise my hand, and I did so immediately.

It's because I understand, and have internalized, number two above.

When things are out of my control (even in bad situations) it is relieving, because now I no longer have to think about it. I can't change it for better or worse, so no reason to worry about it. It creates a calm in me.

Most people worry and get anxious over things that may happen, but over which they have no influence. This is a tremendous waste of energy, and is a source of unhappiness for many. (i.e. Politics)

We would do best to spend our energy on the things we can control completely, and over those things over which we have partial control (while acknowledging that there are other factors beyond our control that could cause influence over the outcome).
 
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When things are out of my control (even in bad situations) it is relieving, because now I no longer have to think about it. I can't change it for better or worse, so no reason to worry about it. It creates a calm in me.

Love it! What a powerful attitude to have. Thanks for sharing it.
 

Black_Dragon43

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How has philosophy helped you in your life and business?
Ah great topic!! This caught my eye last week when I was lurking around here. I've devoted many many hours to the study of philosophy (in fact I still do - whenever I'm not working or doing fitness, then I'm reading philosophy). I'm very familiar with Western philosophical history and have read many of the important texts - including many of Plato's Dialogues, some of Aristotle's lectures, the Stoics (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Musonius Rufus), St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, Spinoza and up we go from there to modern times, with Heidegger and Wittgenstein.

Philosophy has helped me tremendously. All that I have, and all that I am, I owe almost entirely to my study of philosophy. I've learned to think critically, think for myself, fight for my beliefs, never give up, live under hardship, understand our essential human psychology, what drives us, how our natural drives can be transformed, channelled and re-directed (including through advertising) and more. My most important lessons would be as follows:

1. Only someone who has given up the world, can turn around and win it. If you are obsessed about gain, and cannot renounce the idea of winning, your greed and lack of patience will destroy you before you'll ever attain your goal. Your ambition must be mediated by a deep down renunciation of it. Only that way will you be completely free to give your all.

2. The more ambitious you are, the more important virtue is. And when I say ambition I'm not talking about the kind of ambition where you want to live life on your terms, have all that you could materially desire, a few million dollars in the bank, etc. I'm talking about the kind of ambition that drives you to undertake work that has historical value and relevance - you don't want to be just another man or woman casting a shadow here or there, you want to do something great in the world! A man of low ambition can afford to lack virtue, the costs will not be severe enough for him. But whosoever is highly ambitious and cannot wield an iron-clad control over their own self will be consumed by their very ambition.

3. There is ultimately nothing to gain out of life, therefore you have nothing to lose - that's why you are free. If there was anything to gain, you would be tied by having to gain it - you would become a slave to the gain. All that remains is manifesting your real and essential being. The same way a bird sings every morning because that's what comes natural to it.

4. Focus on obtaining LASTING & CUMULATIVE results (as lasting as it is possible in an impermanent world). Not all work is lasting and cumulative. For example, working a job is neither lasting nor cumulative. Going around dating random women is neither lasting nor cumulative. These things end - they are temporary. Fitness training on the other hand is lasting and cumulative. What you gain cannot be lost, presuming an accident or health problem doesn't happen to you. Looking for a woman to marry and build a strong family around which can support and aid your business - that is lasting and cumulative too (although can prove quite difficult to do). Learning and studying - also lasting and cumulative, providing you're doing it for real and actually putting in real effort, not just reading superficialities.

5. All great men are lonely, but do not hate on those who are lesser than you. They cannot be any different, and to each belongs a different place in the garden of God. You alone know what is in your heart and who you truly are - do not care one iota what others say of you.

6. Avoid lust, greed, pride, and pleasure-seeking. Focus on winning - results (long-term results to be more precise).

7. Avoid getting entangled in the vices of sexuality, they have destroyed many great men and women, and chances are they will also destroy you if you fall prey to them. If you are truly ambitious, and you have the inner drive inside you which knows no bounds, then you have to give it your all, especially when you're young. When you're young you have the greatest energy and capacity to learn that you'll ever have. Don't waste this time chasing pleasure and other fleeting things which are but a mirage, soon to be followed only by pain and suffering (there's a reason why, for example, in Ancient Greece it was seen as immoral for young men to chase after women).

8. If you just want to be moderately successful (millionaire status let's say) then no need to free yourself of the typical human wants and desires, just to channel them in the right directions. But if you want to be massively successful (billionaire and more!) then you have to conquer all the drives which could ever derail you or be used against you (or otherwise you have to be really lucky - right place, right time). Close down all your weaknesses, make yourself into an impenetrable fortress, because that's what you'll need to climb to the very top. Don't believe me? Have a look, for example, at the richest man in history, John D. Rockefeller. Read his biography. You'll see pure discipline and single-minded focus there - no women (well apart from his wife), no drinking, no social life, nothing but getting results after results.

9. Focus only on what is immediately under you control. Most importantly, these are your attitudes, your inner beliefs, and your principles. There are other things which are immediately under your control but none are as essential as attitudes, inner beliefs and principles because they can all be taken away from you by disease or accident.

These are some of the most important lessons I have drawn personally. But I can't pinpoint single sources for them. I have lots of works that I've grown to re-read and love - Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, Plato's Apologia of Socrates, Spinoza's Ethics, the Tao Te Ching, the Art of War, Hagaruke, The Book of Five Rings, etc.

As for how these things have practically helped me. I'm not afraid to travel the lonely path, I'm not afraid to be unpopular, I'm not afraid of losing, and I've become extremely good at managing my feelings/emotions and thoughts. For example, when I was in my middle teens, I used to be a very anxious person, frequently experiencing panic attacks, especially based around the fear of getting in a serious accident or getting a serious disease. I was even put on medication for them initially, but have quit the medication since, and I've no longer had attacks for more than 2 years now. This helped me tremendously in my first business, and also now as a freelancer getting ready to start another business.

It's an interesting thing but through practice and over time you can get detached from your feelings and emotions - you can see them as if you were seeing them from outside. You gain a certain kind of control, and they cannot touch you anymore even if they are present. With my fear of illness for example, since I can now accept in my mind the possibility of getting ill (hey, it can happen anytime to anyone!) and can renounce my ambitions if necessary - I no longer fear. But if you are attached to your ambitions, and you are intelligent (if you're an idiot, it won't even occur to you), then you cannot avoid being anxious at the thought of failure. That's why intelligence and ambition are double edged swords. You need to master them, otherwise they can destroy you.

For those of you posting here about Stoicism, if you're interested to go more in-depth and understand the process of judgement more deeply, then I would recommend The Inner Citadel by Pierre Hadot. It's a great commentary built around the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (also ties it in with the rest of the Stoic school), but be warned it can get highly technical.
 

AvocadoMan

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Ah great topic!! This caught my eye last week when I was lurking around here. I've devoted many many hours to the study of philosophy (in fact I still do - whenever I'm not working or doing fitness, then I'm reading philosophy). I'm very familiar with Western philosophical history and have read many of the important texts - including many of Plato's Dialogues, some of Aristotle's lectures, the Stoics (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Musonius Rufus), St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, Spinoza and up we go from there to modern times, with Heidegger and Wittgenstein.

Philosophy has helped me tremendously. All that I have, and all that I am, I owe almost entirely to my study of philosophy. I've learned to think critically, think for myself, fight for my beliefs, never give up, live under hardship, understand our essential human psychology, what drives us, how our natural drives can be transformed, channelled and re-directed (including through advertising) and more. My most important lessons would be as follows:

1. Only someone who has given up the world, can turn around and win it. If you are obsessed about gain, and cannot renounce the idea of winning, your greed and lack of patience will destroy you before you'll ever attain your goal. Your ambition must be mediated by a deep down renunciation of it. Only that way will you be completely free to give your all.

2. The more ambitious you are, the more important virtue is. And when I say ambition I'm not talking about the kind of ambition where you want to live life on your terms, have all that you could materially desire, a few million dollars in the bank, etc. I'm talking about the kind of ambition that drives you to undertake work that has historical value and relevance - you don't want to be just another man or woman casting a shadow here or there, you want to do something great in the world! A man of low ambition can afford to lack virtue, the costs will not be severe enough for him. But whosoever is highly ambitious and cannot wield an iron-clad control over their own self will be consumed by their very ambition.

3. There is ultimately nothing to gain out of life, therefore you have nothing to lose - that's why you are free. If there was anything to gain, you would be tied by having to gain it - you would become a slave to the gain. All that remains is manifesting your real and essential being. The same way a bird sings every morning because that's what comes natural to it.

4. Focus on obtaining LASTING & CUMULATIVE results (as lasting as it is possible in an impermanent world). Not all work is lasting and cumulative. For example, working a job is neither lasting nor cumulative. Going around dating random women is neither lasting nor cumulative. These things end - they are temporary. Fitness training on the other hand is lasting and cumulative. What you gain cannot be lost, presuming an accident or health problem doesn't happen to you. Looking for a woman to marry and build a strong family around which can support and aid your business - that is lasting and cumulative too (although can prove quite difficult to do). Learning and studying - also lasting and cumulative, providing you're doing it for real and actually putting in real effort, not just reading superficialities.

5. All great men are lonely, but do not hate on those who are lesser than you. They cannot be any different, and to each belongs a different place in the garden of God. You alone know what is in your heart and who you truly are - do not care one iota what others say of you.

6. Avoid lust, greed, pride, and pleasure-seeking. Focus on winning - results (long-term results to be more precise).

7. Avoid getting entangled in the vices of sexuality, they have destroyed many great men and women, and chances are they will also destroy you if you fall prey to them. If you are truly ambitious, and you have the inner drive inside you which knows no bounds, then you have to give it your all, especially when you're young. When you're young you have the greatest energy and capacity to learn that you'll ever have. Don't waste this time chasing pleasure and other fleeting things which are but a mirage, soon to be followed only by pain and suffering (there's a reason why, for example, in Ancient Greece it was seen as immoral for young men to chase after women).

8. If you just want to be moderately successful (millionaire status let's say) then no need to free yourself of the typical human wants and desires, just to channel them in the right directions. But if you want to be massively successful (billionaire and more!) then you have to conquer all the drives which could ever derail you or be used against you (or otherwise you have to be really lucky - right place, right time). Close down all your weaknesses, make yourself into an impenetrable fortress, because that's what you'll need to climb to the very top. Don't believe me? Have a look, for example, at the richest man in history, John D. Rockefeller. Read his biography. You'll see pure discipline and single-minded focus there - no women (well apart from his wife), no drinking, no social life, nothing but getting results after results.

9. Focus only on what is immediately under you control. Most importantly, these are your attitudes, your inner beliefs, and your principles. There are other things which are immediately under your control but none are as essential as attitudes, inner beliefs and principles because they can all be taken away from you by disease or accident.

These are some of the most important lessons I have drawn personally. But I can't pinpoint single sources for them. I have lots of works that I've grown to re-read and love - Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, Plato's Apologia of Socrates, Spinoza's Ethics, the Tao Te Ching, the Art of War, Hagaruke, The Book of Five Rings, etc.

As for how these things have practically helped me. I'm not afraid to travel the lonely path, I'm not afraid to be unpopular, I'm not afraid of losing, and I've become extremely good at managing my feelings/emotions and thoughts. For example, when I was in my middle teens, I used to be a very anxious person, frequently experiencing panic attacks, especially based around the fear of getting in a serious accident or getting a serious disease. I was even put on medication for them initially, but have quit the medication since, and I've no longer had attacks for more than 2 years now. This helped me tremendously in my first business, and also now as a freelancer getting ready to start another business.

It's an interesting thing but through practice and over time you can get detached from your feelings and emotions - you can see them as if you were seeing them from outside. You gain a certain kind of control, and they cannot touch you anymore even if they are present. With my fear of illness for example, since I can now accept in my mind the possibility of getting ill (hey, it can happen anytime to anyone!) and can renounce my ambitions if necessary - I no longer fear. But if you are attached to your ambitions, and you are intelligent (if you're an idiot, it won't even occur to you), then you cannot avoid being anxious at the thought of failure. That's why intelligence and ambition are double edged swords. You need to master them, otherwise they can destroy you.

For those of you posting here about Stoicism, if you're interested to go more in-depth and understand the process of judgement more deeply, then I would recommend The Inner Citadel by Pierre Hadot. It's a great commentary built around the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (also ties it in with the rest of the Stoic school), but be warned it can get highly technical.
This resonated with me deeply man. Thank you so much!

If I PM you can you recommend some more books and tips on learning what you have? I want to see the world as you do...

Rep + man!
 

Greg R

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In case anyone is interested, Stoic Week starts next week Monday. It's free to enroll and it's a fun exercise for those looking to self-improve through philosophy.

Learn Modern Stoicism

See you there.
 

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It's because I understand, and have internalized, number two above.

Would you be able to describe how specifically you have achieved that?
How do you get rid of all the "What Ifs"?
Have you ever encountered yourself in a situation where worrying would have saved you?

How has philosophy helped you?

Some years ago I read Steven Covey's 7 Habits which was very enlightening for me (and very stoic in retrospect as well). I really liked the idea of having one's own life principles. Similar to what some of you describe here. I never could come up with any that I'd say: "Yes, this is how I could imagine my mindset to be forever!"

I am only getting to know the core of stoicism for a few months now, but I already have a list that I find to resonate with me very well and greater calm overall.
 

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Would you be able to describe how specifically you have achieved that?
How do you get rid of all the "What Ifs"?

Imagine the worst case scenario. Dwell on it. Accept it as if had just happened. Imagine how you move on.

Then realize it's not really that bad, is it?


Have you ever encountered yourself in a situation where worrying would have saved you?

No, because if it had saved me, that means i could have an impact on my situation, and I had control.

I worry about my business every day. I can do something about it, and when things aren't going well, that worries me.
 

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No, because if it had saved me, that means i could have an impact on my situation, and I had control.

I worry about my business every day. I can do something about it, and when things aren't going well, that worries me.

The definition of worry is saying that you don’t do anything about it.

I’m worried my shipment will get lost vs. There’s a possibility that my shipment will get lost so I’m doing something about it to decrease the chances of it happening.
 

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At a church function a few weeks ago, someone asked the group "Raise you're hand if the level of worrying in your life is a 1 out of 5". I was the only one out of 20 to raise my hand, and I did so immediately.

It's because I understand, and have internalized, number two above.

When things are out of my control (even in bad situations) it is relieving, because now I no longer have to think about it. I can't change it for better or worse, so no reason to worry about it. It creates a calm in me.

Most people worry and get anxious over things that may happen, but over which they have no influence. This is a tremendous waste of energy, and is a source of unhappiness for many. (i.e. Politics)

We would do best to spend our energy on the things we can control completely, and over those things over which we have partial control (while acknowledging that there are other factors beyond our control that could cause influence over the outcome).
Love it! What a powerful attitude to have. Thanks for sharing it.

I was thinking the same thing. This is amazing!! Thank you for the insight!
 

richRich

Knows something about app & software development.
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jan 28, 2019
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Barcelona
Imagine the worst case scenario. Dwell on it. Accept it as if had just happened. Imagine how you move on.

Then realize it's not really that bad, is it?

This is 100% stoic mindset!

I still struggle a bit to accept that technique, considering that the majority of books I was exposed to in the last years used methods from positive psychology and law of attraction. However, the latter two approaches start with the premise that there is Good and Bad. Probably if one engrains that there are no such things, that there is only reality how it is, which I am a big friend of, than what you describe can be practiced without hesitation.

How long did it take you to master it?
 

NVious

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 12, 2015
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When things are out of my control (even in bad situations) it is relieving, because now I no longer have to think about it. I can't change it for better or worse, so no reason to worry about it. It creates a calm in me.

Most people worry and get anxious over things that may happen, but over which they have no influence. This is a tremendous waste of energy, and is a source of unhappiness for many. (i.e. Politics)

We would do best to spend our energy on the things we can control completely, and over those things over which we have partial control (while acknowledging that there are other factors beyond our control that could cause influence over the outcome).

Amazing......
 

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