A while ago, I wrote a post on Stoicism. The reason I wrote the post is because a few people ask me for resources on Stoicism and I don’t have anything handy. For a while now, I have been collecting some resources (mostly videos), that I wanted to share with the readers of my blog. I could not list out all the resources in the previous post, so I am continuing it with this one. Before I start, I want to let you know that I don’t think Stoicism is better than any other philosophies. I am not recommending that you follow or understand it. If you are curious, then these resources may help you. If you already like a philosophy, you should just stick to it.
Here are some useful lessons on how to be successful using concepts from Stoicism which I shamelessly stole from a video. I am highlighting only a few of the points below because these are the ones that I am most influenced by. You might like some other points, so do watch the video. We all have our biases and we like different things about the same thing.
1. Focus, discipline and sacrifices
In today’s world we have endless desires which turn into too many goals and spreads our time too thin to work on anything with full attention. Prioritize what are really important goals for you and start working on them. You cannot choose to simultaneously have a lot of wealth, health, time with family, growth in career, status in society, etc all at once. Choose which ones are really important and work on them.
Work on your goals with discipline. Don’t be distracted by things that are not in your control. Discipline is the fundamental action, mindset and philosophy which keeps one in a routine and make progress in what one is pursing. Always perform your duties no matter how difficult the situation. It should not matter whether you are freezing or hot, tired or well rested, or even if you are dying. Success requires you to make some sacrifices. You will need to give up short term pleasures for long term success. You have to endure pain and suffering without a grumble.
2. Cut down on distractions
Don’t waste your time in speculating or talking about people, what they are up to, what they might be saying or thinking about you and their personal matters. Instead spend time with people who will make you better. It is always better to hang out with people better than you.
Ruthlessly protect your time. This is one of my all time favorite. Time is one thing that I always value the most because you cannot stop the clock and you cannot buy more time. It is not a renewable resource. People constantly ask you for your time with emails, phone calls, WhatsApp messages, Facebook and Instagram updates. Don’t hand it over without thinking. Be more miserly with time than money. Say no to pretty much everything.
3. Live below your means
Don’t be spending where you should not be spending. Living below the means does not mean being cheap or miserly. It just means you are spending on the things that matter. It means that you never have to worry about how little you have or how much you have, because you can always live with what you got. The more things we desire, the more things we need to do to maintain them and the less free you are. We have been using a lot of things in life not because we need them but because we had them.
Things I like, but may not be your cup of tea
One thing that I always loved even before I became a Stoic was to torture the body. I know I sound dark, but that is how I like it. In the martial arts class that I attend, our Sensei has a saying that the day we start pampering our body is the day our health and fitness will start deteriorating. It is so true. Never pamper your body for it was not designed to be pampered. It was designed to do hard impossible things. But I go a step further than that and say – the day you stop torturing your body is when the decline starts.
Which brings me to this next video that talks about the same thing but with a positive spin on it which is – seek challenges. Try to do a bunch of difficult things everyday, like take a cold shower, practice intermittent fasting, wake up early, do a hard workout, push yourself physically everyday so you can be better mentally.
The body should be treated rigorously, that it may not be disobedient to the mind Seneca
The video also suggests practicing negative visualization, something which is near and dear to my heart that I even wrote a post on it. Negative visualization takes strength from pessimism by mentally preparing you for undesirable and uncomfortable situations. The most unacceptable excuse is to say that “I did not think it could happen”. Always be prepared for the worst of the situations. Also know that death is coming. We think that we are moving towards death as time is passing. But the reality is that death is happening right now. The time that has passed is owned by death.
Something for fun
Stoicism also talks about going through pain without actually minding it. That is also the reason I love John Wick the character and the movie too :). John Wick has many great characteristics of a Stoic like executing a task with indifference to pain in order to get the job done. My favorite quote from the movie is the following –
Doctor: Well, if you’re looking to heal, then keep it marginal. However, if you still have… business to attend to, take two of these beforehand (offering tablets). Your stitches’ll tear and you’ll bleed, but you’ll have full function. Do you need anything for the pain?
John Wick: No, I’ve got that covered.
Now that is focus. Once you have decided to take up a task, work ruthlessly to achieve it and be dangerously present. If your body is going to bleed, take a couple of pain killers and be fully functional to attend to the task. Another Stoic principle is to speak little, and speak well, just like John Wick. Say only what is necessary and be brief about it. For more such interesting facts about John Wick with Stoicism intertwined check out the following video.
By now hopefully you have an understanding of Stoicism. If you still want to learn more, here are some longer video formats that go more deeply into the Stoic philosophy. I keep watching or rather listening to these videos from time to time to make sure I am following the Stoic way of life. Hope this post was helpful to you.
Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each Plato
The one thing I want to leave you with is that you don’t need a philosophy or a book or training to make you better. All you need to do is find one thing that makes you better everyday – a story, a quote an idea, that is the path to wisdom.