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Posts Tagged ‘Stoicism

Tidbits and Notes. Part 255

Note: My previous large file titled “Tidbits and notes. Part 211” has vanished after I pressed Leave instead of Cancel. The file has been saved several times, and wish at least the latest saving can be retrieved. Why do they have to use trick terms? Why instead of “Leave” and “cancel” they don’t use “Do Not save” and “Save”? And that “Leave” should erase the entire file instead of changing nothing? WordPress,com support system was of No help. If you know how I can retrieve the file, I’ll be very appreciative.

It turned out that Koran Never mentions Sharia “Shari3at”
It turned out that Koran Never believed in miracles
And the best way to get promoted is to learn something new and get good at it? In public sectors, the best behavior is to get expert in routine procedures?
Israel: the nastiest savage State that was created so far by the colonial powers
A report revealed details of the US-Saudi arms deal. Despite Trump’s repeated assertions that the $110 billion deal will mean 500,000 jobs, Lockheed Martin documents seen by Reuters predict that the deal, if it all comes together, would barely keep 18,000 existing US workers in jobs—but only create a few hundred new jobs in the country.
The dogma of the Cynic philosophical school is that happiness is learning to feel independent (detached) from external advantages such as material luxuries or political power. The Church of Rome coined the pejorative term “cynical” referring to individual who exhibits a sneering disbelief in human sincerity, with penchant insensitivity to people’ s plights: The Church was competing with all the Hellenistic schools of philosophy and religions.

Zeno dogma (stoicism) was that each individual is a complete microcosms reflected in the macrocosms.Cicero, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca were staunch stoics.

Seneca wrote “mankind is holy”; thus, considering individual dignity and well being as goal for improvement and care. The Roman Christian Church coined the connotation stoic for individuals who do not let their feeling take over.

The First dogma of the Epicureans was: Pleasurable results of an action is always counterbalanced with side effects that we need to mind of

The Neo-Platonist dogma: The immortal soul (concept of salvation) is the world of ideas that is illuminated by the One (or God), it is “a spark from the fire”.  The material world has no real existence until the light reaches it.

Plotinus experienced mystical moments of fusion with the world of spirit. The Roman Christian Church had a hard struggle with this powerfully competing school of Neo-Platonism and ended up adopting most of its concepts.

My view on life: the past is the partial derivative of a current event, and the future is the integration of the function of the present events. The big unknown is the Constant of the integration, coined the chaos that human behaviors effect on nature normal process. This constant can be evaluated by the proper measuring stick: health, economics, financial, social displacement, or quality of life.

Washington has reportedly(paywall) agreed to let 8 countries, including India, South Korea, and Japan, keep buying Iranian oil after sanctions begin.

The cost of breeding more humane chickens is almost nothing. A projected 1% increase in prices is a small one to pay to stop animal suffering.

 

Mind-hacks?  Stoicism? What’s that for both questions?

How Indifference can become source of power?

‘People are disturbed Not by things but by their view of things.

If you consider that you have no choices, forget it and let go?

We do this to our philosophies. We redraft their contours based on projected shadows, or give them a cartoonish shape like a caricaturist emphasising all the wrong features.

This is how Buddhism becomes, in the popular imagination, a doctrine of passivity and even laziness, while Existentialism becomes synonymous with apathy and futile despair.

Something similar has happened to Stoicism, which is considered a philosophy of grim endurance, of carrying on rather than getting over, of tolerating rather than transcending life’s agonies and adversities.

No wonder it’s not more popular. No wonder the Stoic sage, in Western culture, has never obtained the popularity of the Zen master.

Even though Stoicism is far more accessible, not only does it lack the exotic mystique of Eastern practice; it’s also regarded as a philosophy of merely breaking even while remaining determinedly impassive. What this attitude ignores is the promise proffered by Stoicism of lasting transcendence and imperturbable tranquility.

It ignores gratitude, too. This is part of the tranquility, because it’s what makes the tranquility possible.

Stoicism is a philosophy of gratitude,  rugged enough to endure anything. Philosophers who pine for supreme psychological liberation have often failed to realise that they belong to a confederacy that includes the Stoics.

‘According to nature you want to live?’ Friedrich Nietzsche taunts the Stoics in Beyond Good and Evil (1886):

O you noble Stoics, what deceptive words these are! Imagine a being like nature, wasteful beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without purposes and consideration, without mercy and justice, fertile and desolate and uncertain at the same time; imagine indifference itself as a power – how could you live according to this indifference?

Living – is that not precisely wanting to be other than this nature?

Is not living – estimating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different?

And supposing your imperative ‘live according to nature’ meant at bottom as much as ‘live according to life’ – how could you not do that? Why make a principle of what you yourself are and must be?

This is pretty good, as denunciations of Stoicism go, seductive in its articulateness and energy, and therefore effective, however uninformed.

As legions of warriors and prisoners can attest, Stoicism is not grim resolve but a…
 aeon.co|By Aeon

Which is why it’s so disheartening to see Nietzsche fly off the rails of sanity in the next two paragraphs, accusing the Stoics of trying to ‘impose’ their ‘morality… on nature’, of being ‘no longer able to see [nature] differently’ because of an ‘arrogant’ determination to ‘tyrannise’ nature as the Stoic has tyrannised himself.

Then (in some of the least subtle psychological projection you’re ever likely to see, given what we know of Nietzsche’s mad drive for psychological supremacy), he accuses all of philosophy as being a ‘tyrannical drive’, ‘the most spiritual will to power’, to the ‘creation of the world’.

The truth is, indifference really is a power, selectively applied, and living in such a way is not only eminently possible, with a conscious adoption of certain attitudes, but facilitates a freer, more expansive, more adventurous mode of living.

Joy and grief are still there, along with all the other emotions, but they are tempered – and, in their temperance, they are less tyrannical.

If we can’t always go to our philosophers for an understanding of Stoicism, then where can we go?

One place to start is the Urban Dictionary. Check out what this crowdsourced online reference to slang gives as the definition of a ‘stoic’:

stoic

Someone who does not give a shit about the stupid things in this world that most people care so much about. Stoics do have emotions, but only for the things in this world that really matter. They are the most real people alive. (Question: what could be “what matter”? Is that a personal selection of what is important?)

Group of kids are sitting on a porch. Stoic walks by.

Kid – ‘Hey man, yur a fuckin faggot an you suck cock!’

Stoic – ‘Good for you.’

Keeps going.

You’ve gotta love the way the author manages to make mention of a porch in there, because Stoicism has its root in the word stoa, which is the Greek name for what today we would call a porch. Actually, we’re more likely to call it a portico, but the ancient Stoics used it as a kind of porch, where they would hang out and talk about enlightenment and stuff.

The Greek scholar Zeno (From Tyr in Lebanon) is the founder, and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius the most famous practitioner, while the Roman statesman Seneca is probably the most eloquent and entertaining. But the real hero of Stoicism, most Stoics agree, is the Greek philosopher Epictetus.

He’d been a slave, which gives his words a credibility that the other Stoics, for all the hardships they endured, can’t quite match.

He spoke to his pupils, who later wrote down his words. These are the only words we know today as Epictetus’, consisting of two short works, the Enchiridion and the Discourses, along with some fragments.

Among those whom Epictetus taught directly is Marcus Aurelius (another Stoic philosopher who did not necessarily expect to be read; his Meditations were written expressly for private benefit, as a kind of self-instruction).

Among those Epictetus has taught indirectly is a whole cast of the distinguished, in all fields of endeavour.

One of these is the late US Navy Admiral James Stockdale. A prisoner of war in Vietnam for 7 years during that conflict, he endured broken bones, starvation, solitary confinement, and all other manner of torture. His psychological companion through it all were the teachings of Epictetus, with which he had familiarised himself after graduating from college and joining the Navy, studying philosophy at Stanford University on the side.

He kept those teachings close by in Vietnam, never letting them leave his mind even when things were at their most dire. Especially then. He knew what they were about, those lessons, and he came to know their application much better than anyone should have to.

Stockdale wrote a lot about Epictetus, in speeches and memoirs and essays, but if you want to travel light, the best thing you could take with you is a speech he gave at King’s College London in 1993, published as Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior (1993).

That subtitle is important. Epictetus once compared the philosopher’s lecture room to a hospital, from which the student should walk out in a little bit of pain. ‘If Epictetus’s lecture room was a hospital,’ Stockdale writes, ‘my prison was a laboratory – a laboratory of human behaviour. I chose to test his postulates against the demanding real-life challenges of my laboratory. And as you can tell, I think he passed with flying colours.’

Stockdale rejected the false optimism proffered by Christianity, because he knew, from direct observation, that false hope is how you went insane in that prison.

The Stoics themselves believed in gods, but ultimately those resistant to religious belief can take their Stoicism the way they take their Buddhism, even if they can’t buy into such concepts as karma or reincarnation.

What the whole thing comes down to, distilled to its briefest essence, is making the choice that choice is really all we have, and that all else is not worth considering. ‘Who […] is the invincible human being?’ Epictetus once asked, before answering the question himself: ‘One who can be disconcerted by nothing that lies outside the sphere of choice.’

Any misfortune ‘that lies outside the sphere of choice’ should be considered an opportunity to strengthen our resolve, not an excuse to weaken it.

This is one of the truly great mind-hacks ever devised, this willingness to convert adversity to opportunity, and it’s part of what Seneca was extolling when he wrote what he would say to one whose spirit has never been tempered or tested by hardship:

‘You are unfortunate in my judgment, for you have never been unfortunate. You have passed through life with no antagonist to face you; no one will know what you were capable of, not even you yourself.’

We do ourselves an immense favour when we consider adversity an opportunity to make this discovery – and, in the discovery, to enhance what we find there.

Another shrewdly resourceful Stoic mind-hack is what William B Irvine – in his book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy­ (2009)– has given the name ‘negative visualisation’. By keeping the very worst that can happen in our heads constantly, the Stoics tell us, we immunise ourselves from the dangers of too much so-called ‘positive thinking’, a product of the mind that believes a realistic accounting of the world can lead only to despair.

Only by envisioning the bad can we truly appreciate the good; gratitude does not arrive when we take things for granted. It’s precisely this gratitude that leaves us content to cede control of what the world has already removed from our control anyway.

How did we let something so eminently understandable become so grotesquely misunderstood? How did we forget that that dark passage is really the portal to transcendence?

Many will recognise in these principles the general shape and texture of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Indeed, Stoicism has been identified as a kind of proto-CBT. Albert Ellis, the US psychologist who founded an early form of CBT known as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) in 1955, had read the Stoics in his youth and used to prescribe to his patients Epictetus’s maxim that ‘People are disturbed not by things but by their view of things.’ ‘That’s actually the “cognitive model of emotion” in a nutshell,’

Donald Robertson tells me, and he should certainly know, as a therapist who in 2010 wrote a book on CBT with the subtitle ‘Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy’.

This simplicity and accessibility ensure that Stoicism will never be properly embraced by those who prefer the abstracted and esoteric in their philosophies.

In the novel A Man in Full (1998), Tom Wolfe gives Stoicism, with perfect plausibility, to a semi-literate prison inmate. This monologue of Conrad Hensley’s may be stilted, but there’s nothing at all suspect about the sentiment behind it. When asked if he is a Stoic, Conrad replies: ‘I’m just reading about it, but I wish there was somebody around today, somebody you could go to, the way students went to Epictetus. Today people think of Stoics – like, you know, like they’re people who grit their teeth and tolerate pain and suffering. What they are is, they’re serene and confident in the face of anything you can throw at them.’

Which leads us naturally to ask just what it was that was thrown at them.

We’ve already noted that Epictetus had the whole slavery thing going on, so he checks out. So does Seneca, in spite of what many have asserted – most recently the UK classicist Mary Beard in an essay for the New York Review of Books that asks: ‘How Stoical Was Seneca?’ before providing a none-too-approving answer.

What Beard’s well-informed and otherwise cogent essay fails to allow for is just how tough it must have been for Seneca – tubercular, exiled, and under the control of a sadistically murderous dictator – no matter what access he sometimes had to life’s luxuries.

It was Seneca himself who said that ‘no one has condemned wisdom to poverty’, and only an Ancient Greek Cynic would try to deny this. Besides, Seneca would have been the first to tell you, as he told a correspondent in one of his letters: ‘I am not so shameless as to undertake to cure my fellow-men when I am ill myself. I am, however, discussing with you troubles which concern us both, and sharing the remedy with you, just as if we were lying ill in the same hospital.’

Marcus Aurelius lay ill in that hospital, too. As beneficiary of the privileges of emperor, he also endured the struggles and stresses of that very same position, plus a few more besides.

I know better than to try to improve on the following accounting, provided in Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life:

He was sick, possibly with an ulcer. His family life was a source of distress: his wife appears to have been unfaithful to him, and of the at least 14 children she bore him, only six survived. Added to this were the stresses that came with ruling an empire. During his reign, there were numerous frontier uprisings, and Marcus often went personally to oversee campaigns against upstart tribes. His own officials – most notably, Avidius Cassius, the governor of Syria – rebelled against him. His subordinates were insolent to him, which insolence he bore with ‘an unruffled temper’. Citizens told jokes at his expense and were not punished for doing so. During his reign, the empire also experienced plague, famine, and natural disasters such as the earthquake at Smyrna.

Ever the strategist, Marcus employed a trusty technique in confronting the days that comprised such a life, making a point to tell himself at the start of each one of them:

‘I shall meet with meddling, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, and unsociable people.’ He could have been different about it – he could have pretended things were just hunky-dory, especially on those days when they really were, or seemed to be. But how, then, would he have been prepared to angle both into the wind and away from it – adapting, always, to fate’s violently vexing vicissitudes? Where would that have left him when the weather changed?

Note: If you consider that you have no choices, forget it and let go? Then studying and acquiring knowledge is to extend more choices to events. A stoic must seek ways to expand his choices, the hardest of work to select among many possible choices and work on the choice.

Secret to never getting frustrated?

 And how do you change your belief systems?

We all get frustrated.

The guy in front of you is driving like an idiot.

Your boss is being a jerk.

Your partner isn’t listening.

And sometimes these all happen to you on the same day.

What’s the fix for this? One guy came up with a solution that deals with all of these problems — and more.

Albert Ellis was quite a character. He was controversial. Outspoken.

A bit of a rebel. In fact, the book he’s most famous for was titled: How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything—Yes, Anything.

Clever but a bit unprofessional, right?

Here’s the thing: according to a survey of psychologists he was the second most influential psychotherapist ever. Sigmund Freud came in third.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about his system:

In general REBT is arguably one of the most investigated theories in the field of psychotherapy and a large amount of clinical experience and a substantial body of modern psychological research have validated and substantiated many of REBTs theoretical assumptions on personality and psychotherapy.

His stuff works. And it’s as simple as ABCD — quite literally, as you’ll see below.

So how can you never be frustrated again? Let’s break it down.

The Tyranny Of “Should”

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Here’s what you need to take away from Ellis’ work:

1. You don’t get frustrated because of events. You get frustrated because of your beliefs.

And where did this idea start? Ancient philosophy. Stoicism. That’s where Ellis found the concept. And then he proved it really worked.

…if you understand how you upset yourself by slipping into irrational shoulds, oughts, demands, and commands, unconsciously sneaking them into your thinking, you can just about always stop disturbing yourself about anything.

You’re stuck in traffic and that makes you angry, right? Wrong.

cab traffic new yorkflickr/joiseyshowaa/

Traffic happens. But you think it shouldn’t happen to you. And the thing that’s making you miserable is that word “should.”

Here’s an example. I say, “This headache remedy probably won’t work but give it a shot.” So you try it. And it doesn’t work. You’re not frustrated.

Okay, same situation but I say, “This always works.” It fails. Now you’re annoyed. What changed? Your expectation.

Or you tell a five-year old to stop yelling. They don’t listen. You don’t get that bothered. After all, the kid is five.

But if you tell me to stop yelling and I don’t listen, you get angry. What’s different? “Eric should stop. He’s an adult.

Again, nothing changed but your belief.

Pretty straightforward, right? But that leads to a question: how do you change your beliefs? Ellis has an answer.

(For more on a fun way to be happier and more successful, click here.)

The Universe Is Not Taking Orders From You.

It’s as simple as ABCD. Really.

A is adversity. Traffic is awful.

B is your beliefs. And often they’re irrational. “This shouldn’t happen to me.” Well, guess what, Bubba? It is happening.

C is consequences. You get angry, frustrated or depressed.

In very few cases can you change A. But you can change B. And that will change C. So let’s bring in the 4th letter.

D: Dispute your irrational beliefs. “Wait a second. When did the universe guarantee me a trouble-free existence? It didn’t.

Traffic has happened before. It will happen again. And I will survive.”

Giant Buddha BodhgayaShutterstock / Rafal Cichawa

Look for beliefs that hold the words “should”, “ought” or “must.” That’s where the problems lie.

You’re allowed to wish, want and desire. Nobody is saying you need to be an emotionless lump.

“I would very much like or prefer to have success, approval, or comfort,” and then end with the conclusion, “But I don’t have to have it. I won’t die without it. And I could be happy (though not as happy) without it.”

But you can’t demand the universe bend to your will. That’s where the frustration and anger creep in — because that godlike insistence isn’t rational.

Via How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything—Yes, Anything:

When you insist, however, that you always must have or do something, you often think in this way:

“Because I would very much like or prefer to have success, approval, or pleasure, I absolutely, under practically all conditions, must have it. And if I don’t get it, as I completely must, it’s awful, I can’t stand it, I am an inferior person for not arranging to get it, and the world is a horrible place for not giving me what I must have! I am sure that I’ll never get it, and therefore I can’t be happy at all!”

When you’re angry, frustrated or depressed look for those irrational beliefs.

People should treat me kindly and fairly all the time.” Sound rational? Hardly.

I ought to succeed at this. If I don’t, I’m a failure and a loser.” Really?

This person must love me back or I’ll die.” No, no, no you won’t.

Via How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything—Yes, Anything:

What were you anxious or overconcerned about? Meeting new people? Doing well at work? Winning the approval of a person you liked?

Passing a test or a course? Doing well at a job interview? Winning a game of tennis or chess?

Getting into a good school? Learning that you have a serious disease? Being treated unfairly?

Look for your command or demand for success or approval that was creating your anxiety or over concern. What was your should, ought, or must?

Is disputing your irrational beliefs going to immediately change everything? No.

But when you start disputing you’ll see that your expectations aren’t in line with reality.

And with a little work, those expectations will start to change.

(For more happiness lifehacks you can learn from ancient philosophy, click here.)

Sum Up

It’s as simple as ABCD. Next time you’re turning red and clenching your fists, give this a shot:

A is Adversity. Like traffic. Sorry, no genie can let you wish it away.

B is Beliefs. Look for beliefs with these troublesome words: should, ought and must. “Traffic shouldn’t be this bad.” Not rational. Traffic is what it is. Sorry.

C is Consequences. You banging the steering wheel with your fist and sending your blood pressure into the stratosphere.

D is Dispute. Are you demanding the universe and everyone bend to your wishes? Is that rational? No way. You can want, you can wish and you can definitely try your best in the future, but you cannot demand if you want to stay happy and sane.

Life is not perfect. People aren’t perfect.

You, dear reader, are not perfect. And that’s okay.

But having beliefs that any of these things “should” be the way you want causes you a lot of unnecessary suffering.

Many of your irrational beliefs are not immediately obvious. Sometimes you’ll have to dig to find them.

And you’ll need to dispute them a fair amount before new reasonable beliefs kick in. But you can definitely make progress.

What did Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher, say way back in the first century AD?

People are disturbed not by things, but by the views they take of them.

What did Shakespeare write in Hamlet?

There’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

How about the Buddha?

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.

Rarely can you change the world. But you can always change your thoughts.

Najat Rizk shared this link
April 18, 2015

Mmmm! Not sure how easy it is to apply, definitely easier to read!
You don’t get frustrated because of events. You get frustrated because of your beliefs.

Read more: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/04/frustrated/#ixzz3Xqr3B7FZ


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