Seneca had this thing where once a month he would practice poverty. He’d scale down his diet, sleep on the floor and stay away from business. Like a solider who performs maneuvers in times of peace, he said, you should practice misfortune in times of fortune. The idea being that fear is mostly bred from unfamiliarity and unfamiliarity is easily fixed.
Think about your reaction to getting fired right now, unexpectedly. It’s one of those nervous, churning feelings that pump through your system. Back up 10 minutes and you witness something horrifying and quit on the spot out of principle. How different are those feelings? But it’s the essentially the same result: you not working there anymore.
Let’s not kidd ourselves, there is more to good and bad than just perception. It’s not honest to pretend like you have total control over your emotions. We scientifically do not. You do, however, have the ability to create perspective. Almost nothing takes away your ability to inject that into the situation. So use it.
If you’re someone who is inside their head a lot like me, it’s really easy to forget that everything almost always ends up okay. It’s depressing and an anxious way to live. It sucks. If you can realize – try and picture – that the very worse thing that could possibly happen is _____ and be fine with it, then the pressure disappears.
The Fear is something that you opt-in to. Seneca’s lesson is just one way to opt out.
The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.
Like Bill Hicks said, you can either see the world through the eyes of love or the eyes of fear. Your choice.
” If you can realize – try and picture – that the very worse thing that could possibly happen is _____ and be fine with it, then the pressure disappears”
Couldn’t agree more and will work to incorporate this statement / feeling into my daily life rather than trying to over think things.
“If you’re someone who is inside their head a lot like me, it’s really easy to forget that everything almost always ends up okay. It’s depressing and an anxious way to live. It sucks. If you can realize – try and picture – that the very worse thing that could possibly happen is _____ and be fine with it, then the pressure disappears.”
Spot on Ryan. However it is worth noting that for some people accepting the worst can happen is incredibly difficult. I’ve found that Zoloft coupled with that sort of aggressive confrontation of reality can be very beneficial
A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt about a tragedy.
The grandfather said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent and sometimes fearful one.The other wolf is the loving, compassionate, confident and resilient one.”
The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?”
The grandfather answered, “The one I feed.”
Ryan, you should write a book. Title it “Discourses on Stoicism.” I know that many of your readers, including me, would buy it.
I wouldn’t. Please don’t. You know shit.
But isn’t that the point. None of us know shit. Ryan, like any intellectual, or thinking person for that matter, struggles with that. He does it openly. I for one commend that sort of honesty. The kind that allows you to say…”I dont know everything, but I want to.”
Wham bam thank you, ma’am, my quetsions are answered!
I translated De Vita Beata (a letter from Seneca to his brother) for an exam in grammar school. I distinctly remember the gist of it : “rerum naturae adsentior” which means “I assent to nature”. Seneca told his brother that his idea of happiness was to pursue knowledge, and that to stray from nature was to contradict common sense. One must be shaped according to nature’s law and example.
Living in occasional self-imposed poverty like he did -not unlike the original muslim Ramadan- was against his ‘nature’ as a patrician. However, not pursuing knowledge must have been against his nature as well.
The first way of acting against nature is one that defies the rules set upon him by society: He’s not supposed to act that way. The second one is a personal matter, affecting only his happiness.
It makes me wonder, did he fear not pursuing knowledge?
As an aside, Ryan, have you read any of the classical works in the original language? Do you intend to?
The distinction you create between the psychology of quitting a job versus leaving on your own terms is dead-on. At 23, I’ve twice left lucrative, enviable positions at exceptional companies, solely based on principle and a belief that it was no longer aligned with my ambitions. Both times, the subsequent void of non-employment was indescribably empowering and overflowed with possibility, solely because I knew I was the one that pulled the trigger. To say the feeling would be the same if I’d been fired from those jobs would be a lie. It would have been a huge blow to my sense of worth and contribution.
Always, always end on your terms and be the first to act when you know you’ve outgrown your role.
I wish I could but I don’t speak Greek or Latin.
David, I agree completely with the sentiment that after quitting on your own terms there is a surge of empowerment brought on by a connection to your level of self-control and potential. I’m 23 in a few days, and I have also experienced the scenarios you described. I think the excitement of ending a job on your terms, at least for me, is mainly in the unending opportunities awaiting you as soon as you walk out the door. If you are an intelligent person, if you know how to “hustle” (work hard, utilize the system to your benefit, maybe even rework the system to fit you), then the likelihood of landing on your feet is huge. The pitfall for people is that some people step out the door and don’t know where to go. They don’t know where to start…so they don’t. You have to work at knowing what you want or you risk falling into the same thing you didn’t want before.