Two reactions to the same problem:
A friend tonight said, “I couldn’t be an entrepreneur. I need safety. I need the certainty of a steady paycheck, without having to worry if my business is going to fail.”
I said, “I couldn’t have a job. I need safety. I need the certainty of my own company, where I’m in total control of my income, without having to worry if a boss will fire me.”
Consider a third option: working towards a place where you’re not worried about anything that happens. Whether your business fails or your boss fires you, you are still you. And because of that you will be fine. Just like you always are.
What’s not okay to is pretend that either of the first two aren’t rooted in the same fear and worry. That pointing out the semantic differences between them doesn’t belie a sad acceptance of being afraid.
A better way is to live your life in a manner that is indifferent to the things that happen to you and acknowledges only the importance of what you do.
I like your blog very much as it introduced me to stoic phylosophy, which I liked, and your notes always make me think. Now I have one question, which is bothering me for some time.
Which purposes of life can one have, if he is indifferent to what happens to him? Or, in terms of this post, isn’t the importance of what I do shaped/judged by what happens to me? Isn’t whole my mind formed by what happened to me?
I would be very thankful if you could answer (or may be point to some book dealing with this question).
All the best,
“What is my profession?
Being a good man.”
– Marcus Aurelius
Girl:”What do you do?”
Tony: “How do you mean?”
Girl: “You know, for a living.”
Tony: “I’m Tony Wilson.”
– 24 Hour Party People
I’d like to know an answer to such questions posted by Ivan too. I’ve been reading some of the books in your reading list and they do help out in some areas, but it is still unclear.
I’m assuming that we are to try to experience and learn whatever we feel like, but be indifferent of the outcome. It is hard to do so when we rely on validation from other people. Reputation with many, although they shouldn’t matter, do matter to me.
Like for instance, I can’t really have that “I don’t care what happens after I do this” mentality with everyone because what if they are a potential connection for better future job opportunities?
Hello Ryan and readers.
I believe that inside me, a war is raging between the entrepreneur and the wage earner. I have done both- justified not getting a job, nor starting a business, telling myself almost verbatim what you and your friend both said. My solution was to work on both. Take a job, but also work on an entrepreneurial enterprise. That way, there is no risk. If your company works out, then hey, no risk involved. However, whether your a paper pusher or a business owner,to treat a profession as an umbilical cord to safety and security-wrong mindset. In Robert Greene’s book- The 50th Law, he talks about how Curtis is fluid and versatile like water. He adapts to every situation, every turn of events, in a calculated, non-emotional manner. He is detached from his enterprise and sees it as a separate living entity. If his ship sinks, he knows that he can build another one. Be open to new ideas, strategies and mindsets. Maybe what Ryan means when he says be detached to outcomes is this. By the way Ryan, my thanks for recommending Greene. Ive learned much from his works, and will have to refer back to them from time to time.
It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it. Or the way you so elegantly put it Ryan. I agree entirely.
Granted, the whole absence of fear…it’s natural to be afraid, but to not allow yourself to be paralyzed by that fear should be the aim I think not to totally eradicate it.
Frequent reader, first time commenter.
The logical end to what you’re talking about is a monastic lifestyle in nirvana, because ultimately, everything materialistic and everything of the body will cease to exist.
I work because I like my job most of the time, and even on the rare days I don’t like it, it allows me to have the money to do what I want the rest of the time. If I didn’t like my job I wouldn’t do it, and if it didn’t allow me to do what I wanted the rest of the time, I wouldn’t do it.
Your end result (and your conclusion) isn’t any different than that of any major Eastern religion.
Really Luke? Deciding that whether you work for yourself or someone else there’s no reason to be worried that something bad might happen to me is monastic nirvana?
What are you even talking about?
Having read and studied the Bhagavad Gita (and other eastern thinking), and with a smattering of western philosophical thought, I don’t see a lot of difference about reaching a higher level of consciousness. The paths make appear to be substantially different, and radicals may reject them as such. The more I study western thought the more I see all this leads to the same place – peace with how you live your life.
Living without fear means living at a higher level. Call it what you will, Nirvana, enlightenment or thought on a different plane. This has nothing to do with living in a cave or a monastery. It has everything to do with adhering to a discipline, learning, thinking and study.
The answers are there for anyone to study. Don’t expect to find the meaning of life in sudden epiphany from a single sitting with a self-help book.
Your security is the service you render to others, period. Nothin’ else. If you are not able to help, you’ll never get paid. If you are able to help…you’re secure.
Just read this before taking a test…
Question for Ryan or anyone that can answer if they have the time.
Where does motivation fit in with stoicism? More specifically did any stoic philosophers address motivation and their views on it?