“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”
Stoicism is a philosophy of practice. The goal of Hellenistic philosphies was leading its students toward a good life. To achieve that the strees is on training our Ethos or character (which is normally better done as far as possible from the armchair). Stoicism requires feet on the ground and, down to earth and stubborn practice. It is therefore a great philosophy for travelers, and traveling is a great activity for practicing Stoicism, since it puts our character to the test more often than in our familiar environment.
Stoic practices include Socratic dialogue, self-dialogue, visualization, attention to the present moment, and daily reflection on our preogress. Philosophy for the Stoics was an active process of constant practice.
The negative way
According to Epictetus, “All philosophy lies in two words, sustain and abstain”. By negative way I mean it subtracts, instead of adding things to our life. That may seem counterintuitive, but by getting rid of the stuff we don’t need or what it is harmful to us, we can make room and time for what really matters. Only when we are free from things, thoughts and beliefs we don’t need, what is left is our true self, a more authentic being.
So far I would say that Stoicism has helped me to:
- Get rid of some harmful and timewasting habits
- Consume less, create more
- be a little less afraid, angry and anxious
- be more focused in the present moment
- put my energy on the things that are within my control
- know myself a little bit better
- find a moral compass
Meditation & Viaualization
I start my rutine practice with one simple meditation in the morning, and another in the evening before going to bed. As I wake up I seat down in a quite place with my back straignt (laying down in not a good idea in my experince since I need wakefulness). First I ask myself why I am waking up for. Then I visualice what I am about to do during the day. What problems I am going to encounter both external and internal.
External: I imagine bad and unexpected scenarios; trafic jams, unpleasent people, troubles working.
Internal: I shall meet distractions, lack of self control
In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius defines several such practices. For example, in Book II, part 1:
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The
people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful,
arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this
because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the
beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized
that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of
the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a
share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one
can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my
relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like
feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and
lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at
someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions”
Then before going to bed, I seat and review the things that have happened, and I put every event into one of the Cardinal Virtues. Did I get distracted easily? I lacked Temperance. Did I lay to someone to cover a mistake I did? I lacked Courage. Did I make a bad joke about someone who didn’t deserv it? I lacked Justice. Did I not drive my car prudently? Lack of practical Wisdom.
“my definition is a Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.” Nassim Nikolas Taleb. Antifragile