It is my duty when I am faced with adversity to remain calm and rational. I shall remember that many things are not in my nexus of control, but there are also many actions that I can take to mitigate adverse outcomes. Even when something is seemingly hopeless, I can frame the incident to deal with it in an emotionally constructive manner.
For example, and earthquake is a calamity that I cannot control. What I can control is preparation and reaction to the event. I can have my emergency kit, food and water, and even excess to help those who have chosen not to be prepared. I can frame the incident as a learning experience, something that I can learn from and hopefully relay the information to others.
A friendship will fail without my active participation. I have circles to my personal relationships: Blood family, those I love who are not family, friends, acquaintances, and those I do not know. For the first two categories, I feel a different bond. This is an timeless bond. I have moved several times in my life and developed new relationships in every location. In each location, I have developed relationships that exist in the second category, men and women who I feel a platonic love towards, whose transgressions I can forgive. These are the people who I might now have talked to for years but can start up a conversation with like there had never been a gulf of time. To me, that is a different category from friendship, which is someone who I may bond with in a time and place, but after relocation there is not interest in maintaining this relationship.
I need to be constantly on the lookout for the destructive nature of complacency. It is easy to get comfortable and in a good rut and not want to challenge myself to go further. I can feel that I have arrived, that I just need to keep treading water and things will be good. This is a terrible mind state to be in. I need to constantly be challenging myself to make progress, rather that sit stagnant. I must always attack complacency in all avenues of my life. The Holistic Routines that I have help to combat complacency by forcing daily progress, however, even those need to be experimented with to see if I am being the most effective person that I can be.
Deep Work is a concept that I am attracted to. Cal Newport elaborates his thoughts behind it in his book Deep Work. I need to improve in this field. I allow myself to be distracted by emails at work, rather than doing what is recommended and having blocks of email free time. If people need to reach me immediately, I have a phone. I let myself easily get distracted, and this prevents me from reaching my goals. I revere the though of deep work, yet I do not participate in it. Free of distractions, I can come up with many creative concepts. It is time to develop a practice of Deep Work.
In Stoicism, there are circles of control, and by manipulating these circles of control I am able to gain more peace and freedom as I realize that some things I do not have control over. I may be able to influence others towards what I want the result to be, but I ultimately am not in charge of the whole decision, and therefore these things are best left out of me trying to obsessively fret about. Some examples:
- Whether or not I work
- Whether or not I have sex
- Whether or not I live or die
- Whether or not people agree with me
- Whether or not people listen to me
- Whether or not people like me
I am addicted to the desire to succeed so that I can rub it in the faces of those who have doubted me. I know that this is a false reason for wanting success based in ego. I must remind mindful of this desire, and actively combat this state of mind. It is deadly. Spite has propelled me in the past to improve my lot, however, it is not a sustainable model since it requires deep resentment to thrive. In the end, resentment cuts me off from those around me and society at large, and will diminish my life.
If I want to keep my mind free of clutter, these are the things I must avoid:
- No anger
- No lust
- No jealousy
- No click bait
- No television
- No pornography
- No social media
- No daily news cycle
Will I fail with this entire list on a long enough timeline? Of course I will, but I know that the less of these things I participate in, the clearer and more calm my mind is, which meaning I am able to focus on my true goals. Incremental daily progress is better than acquiescence to mediocrity.
Why am I studying all of the subjects that I study?
- To be peaceful
- To be resilient
- To help myself
- To help my family
- To help society
- To prove something to those who have doubted me
All of these reasons are an interconnected web, and not a hierarchy in my day to day affairs. Some days I am looking for inner peace. Some days I need to be resilient through a difficult situation. Some days I need to make progress for my family and myself. Some days I am altruistic and want to improve myself to benefit society. Some days I am resentful and I want to prove something to society. However, the baseline of consistent studying of many subjects satisfies all of those reasons.
The baseline is that I am learning and studying so that I can be a producer and contributor to society. I study so that I can increase my maximum effectiveness in my affairs. My strength has always been my intellectual prowess, even though for many years I shunned it. I must work to continually expand it, and never waste it again.
Obstacles provide an opportunity for growth. Without a challenge, how will I grow? Do I truly want to be consider a problem solver? It is a spiritual generality that pain and challenges lead to personal growth. I need to seek that which is blocking my path, and figure out a solution to unblock that path. The final step is to share my knowledge with others so they might overcome that obstacle as well.
Today I can stop making excuses for my lack of progress in my goals. There are no excuses, only my lack of willingness to take steps towards those goals, no matter how small that step is. It is better to take an inch forward towards the goal line that be stagnant. All progress shall be embraced, and all stagnation is poison.