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
I read the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius the first time in August 2014. To be honest, it disappointed me. A couple of months before, I read The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday and A Guide To The Good Life By William B. Irvine. They introduced me to stoicism. I loved reading both books. Both authors explain in a structured and easy way stoic ideas. I expected the same from Marcus Aurelius and the Meditations. But, the Meditations are not like any other book I read. In September 2015 I reread it with a clear view what the Meditations are and how I could take notes. This second time I wasn’t disappointed.
“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.” – Marcus Aurelius
Every night before I go to bed I look back at the day and plan for the next one. I started to write a journal because I read that many great man in history did the same. Marcus Aurelius, Ben Franklin, and Mark Twain. Recently I changed my journaling style. It was a small modification but it had great impact. I call it the performance journal.
“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” – Christina Baldwin
Old school Journal
People today live like kings but are unhappy. I once witnessed two guys complaining about their lives. They seemed to live in another reality. According to them everything was bad. Their jobs, their children, society, food, politics and so on. I should mention, I witnessed this conversation in Germany in a train heading towards a commercial area. They wore suits and I would guess were about 20 something years old. It doesn’t sound like a terrible live for me. People are unhappy because they don’t appreciate what they have. It doesn’t matter if they have much or nothing. The Stoics knew that thousands of years ago. They used negative visualization to appreciate even the modest things.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” – Epictetus
These days people are more than ever looking at what they eat. Health and fitness are a part of the mainstream. You (almost) can’t go out eating without a discussion on what you should eat to be healthy. Everybody has an opinion on how a great diet looks like. There is a common understanding that what you consume is important for your bodies well-being. The same understanding is missing for your minds well-being. Regarding movies (and other media) people consume any piece of trash. (Following I will use movies in place of media in general; radio, Internet, newspapers etc.)
What Influence Movies Have
How often do you take the time to reflect and focus on the things you are grateful for? I bet the answer is not often enough. Most of the time we are chasing something: a girl, a better job, a new flat and so on. I encourage you to work towards your dreams and goals. But, reaching (more) goals will only make you happy for a short time. Lasting happiness comes from being grateful. Know what it means to be grateful and you will know how to be happy!
James Stockdale landed with his parachute in a small village, behind enemy lines in Vietnam. Minutes before, the enemy struck his fighter jet. He had no other choice, but to eject. The villagers beat him and captured him. It was September 9, 1965 in the middle of the Vietnam War. James had no illusions. He expected a long and painful time in captivity. He expected it to be the worst time of his life. He was a prisoner for seven years. He was beaten and tortured by the Vietnamese soldiers daily. The right expectations gave him the mindset and the strength to survive.
Reasons for Anger