In this very funny episode of comedians in cars getting coffee Jerry Seinfeld’s guest is Bill Burr. They talk about everything under the sun. At one point Bill talks about a philosophy he lives by. With a simple example he summarizes two powerful ideas. Living according to this philosophy makes life much easier! Let’s look at it.
Stoicism is a philosophy with great focus on the mind. The Stoics found and used many psychological techniques, like negative visualization. The Stoics also gave practical, pragmatical advice on various topics like grief, anger and life itself. Applying the techniques and advice leads to a virtuous life. But, all that plays in the mind. I want to introduce some tangible tools to stoicism: The Stoic Thinking Tools.
We need a more powerful and new stoicism! That insight leads us to following question: How do we create the new modern-day stoicism? Simple! We answer the same questions as the old Stoics with our modern-day knowledge.
Ancient Philosophy vs Modern-day Philosophy
Why did the Romans adapt Greek stoicism? Simple. The Romans adapted Greek stoicism to fit their needs. That insight raised one question: Should we adapt both stoic schools to fit our modern-day needs? Yes. I think so. Here are my top 3 reasons why I think so.
The world has changed much over the last 1500 years
“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelius
Valuable life lessons are everywhere! They are the rules that always apply. If we follow the life lessons, we move much faster towards success and happiness. They guide us around obstacles and prevent problems. As society we formulate life lessons as brief one-liners. A great example is, “Health Is Wealth.” But, it’s not enough to know them, we have to understand them. If you want to use the great power of valuable life lessons, you have to find them in everyday life FIRST.
A big part of everyday life is work. So, work is a great opportunity to get true understanding of life lessons. I will explain you how with an example out of my life.
Have you ever had a hard time answering such questions: Should I break up with my girlfriend? Should I give up my studies? Should I buy the new PlayStation? Should I take the Job at ACME? Often times we ponder over hard questions a long time, not knowing how to answer them. A Pro-Con List is and easy and powerful thinking tool that can help us to make a decision.
Funny fact about Pro-Con Lists
Are you the computer guy in your family? Are you fixing every computer problem for your parents? Or, are you “responsible” for every problem with the Internet connection? I’m that guy. I think everybody with parents born before the Internet-era is that guy. Often, rebooting is enough to resolve the issue. But, some issues demand maximum effort(, to quote Deadpool). They demand you sitting in front of the machine. I try to resolve such issues with Teamviewer.
My father is a simple man from a rural village in the former Yugoslavia. He is a relict from a time when men still were masculine. Sometimes he shares his wisdom with me in form of stories. Here is one of them:
How do you practice your social skills? That’s a funny question, isn’t it? All the socially savvy people I asked had never practiced their social skills. They have no idea how. All the socially unsavvy people I asked have no idea either. The advice I got was to talk to as many different people as possible. But, I feared approaching new people because I had no idea how to behave and what to talk about. The thought alone paralyzed me. I feared rejection until I found probably the easiest way to practice my social skills.
Acknowledgment at work feels great. I love to get acknowledgment for great work and great ideas. I’m sure you love to get acknowledgement at work as well. Sadly, leaders and colleagues don’t always show acknowledgement, when it is appropriate. They should! And we should do it as well. The only question left is: What is the best way to show acknowledgement?
“The greatest humiliation in life, is to work hard on something from which you expect great appreciation, and then fail to get it.” – E. W. Howe