Category Archives: Nightly Reflections

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 7/1/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking about the following question:

What am I doing about the things that matter most in life?

This will be a short reflection.

After thinking about this all day, I was constantly reminded of Marcus Aurelius quote on being a good man. How he said:

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

I think that applies to the things we cherish most in our lives as well. If we’re not treating people the way we think we should, stop and treat them better. If we think we can devote more time to studying and we haven’t been, stop and give your studying more time.

I’m reminded that we have control over our actions and the amount of energy we put into them.

If we want to give more to things in our life, stop thinking about doing it and just do it.

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/30/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking of the following question:

If this were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?

As I have previously discussed, one of the keys to stoicism is reflecting upon death and how it is inescapable.

As Marcus writes in Meditations:

“Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back.”

It will come for all of us, therefore the simple fact that we are here and alive in this moment is a blessing. We should not waste a moment of it. That being said, do we go about doing everything we want to as if today was our final day? The answer to this will, in most cases, be no.

For most of us, it is nearly impossible to live each and every day as if it were our last. It is not practical to live that way, we have responsibilities. Should today be our last day, would we go to work? Would we get into a fight with our significant other? Cry over spilled milk?

We do not need to live as if it is our last day, but rather, live how we wish to be. As Marcus further writes in Meditations:

“Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.” 

Loving our family, preparing ourselves for our final day, making sure we have lived the life we want to live, that’s living today as if it were our last. As Marcus reminds us:

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/29/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking of the following question:

Am I holding on to something I need to let go of?

It is hard to imagine a person who does not, or has not at one point in their life, not held onto something. It could have been an insult, a loss of some kind, a break up. At one point or another, you have gone through something and it took you a while before you let it go. But why does it take us so long to let go of things?

Depending upon the situation, it could be due to time. You go through a break up or divorce after being with your significant other for ten years. Are you immediately going to be jumping with joy? Immediately start a new life like nothing happened and never look back? No, probably not, and in cases where you do this, it is usually due to false-bravado.  In addition, due to us being human, we suffer from a handful of cognitive biases at any given time that may distort the truth about events.

Marcus Aurelius reminds himself in Meditations:

“Letting go all else, cling to the following few truths. Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant: all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed.”

Yet even after reading his quote, how many of us would go about immediately letting go of something we’re holding onto? Few. I know for myself it takes me a long time to let go of things.

Practicing being present however, helps on letting go of the things we hold onto. All we have is the present moment. The past is gone. No matter what, we cannot reclaim what previously happened, it is written in stone. We can, however, use it as perspective for the present. I do not say the ‘present and future’ for the future is not concrete, it is malleable and has no set destination. It has yet to be written.

Seneca reminds us of this stating:

“The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for uncertainty.”

Holding on to the past, or fear of future events actually hinders and hurts us in the long run. But how about holding onto things from the past as fuel for the future? Well, that logic does work… but only temporarily. By holding onto the past to drive us into the future, you are doing two things: 1) you’re anchoring yourself to the past event(s) that are fueling you and 2) you are not properly seeing the present moment. Eventually what ends up happening is we hit a plateau because we cannot let go of the past to stay in the present. And when we lose sight of the present, we ruin our future.

The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, once wrote:

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.”

So how do we let go of the past and stay present?

Ray Dalio, founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates and author of the book Principles talks about self-actualizing. Whether it is through a group of people assisting you or yourself, you need to be able to see the facts clearly. Understand yourself, see your faults, your actions, and what has taken place. Once you have a clear view of yourself and the events of the past, learn from them and move on. Do not be a slave to your past.

The stoics used daily reflections such as what we do here to reflect upon what happened and then let go of it. Eastern philosophy teaches of meditation. Some people today use neurolinguistics programing (NLP) to create anchors within themselves which pulls them back to the present moment.

Explore all you can and find what works best to stay present.

BUY
Meditations
 -Marcus Aurelius
The Tao of Seneca – Volume I – Seneca the Younger, Presented/Prepared by Tim Ferris
The Tao of Seneca – Volume II – Seneca the Younger, Presented/Prepared by Tim Ferris
The Tao of Seneca – Volume III – Seneca the Younger, Presented/Prepared by Tim Ferris
Letters from a Stoic – Seneca the Younger
On the Shortness of Life – Seneca the Younger
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu
Principles – Ray Dalio

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/28/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking about the following question:

If I am to leave life at this exact moment, what would I regret?

It has been well said, at one point or another in your life, whether by a friend or family member, that at any moment, you could step outside and be hit by a car, or a bus, or a [fill this in with a any other heavy piece of machinery].

But why is this so important?

Because death creates life.

It is death, the end of something that brings the beauty to the world we live in. It brings an understanding that everything is finite, whether it is the tree outside your window, or your own life. It is the scarcity that brings life to the forefront of our mind and heart.

So if life is so short, or fleeting, then why live with regrets?

I think the Daily Stoic said it best:

Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome. His untitled writing, commonly known as Meditations is an important source of Stoic philosophy.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

He means that everything, no matter whether it is good or bad is an opportunity to practice virtue.

Don’t be surprised by failure, expect it, in fact, embrace it and seek after obstacles in your life which seem uncomfortable.

It is here where your character will be tested and most importantly moulded and developed.

The Stoics called negative visualisations the premeditation of evils. The idea is to envision the worst possible scenario. An example could be twisting your ankle before you run.

Assimilate this idea into your daily actions and you will be rewarded.

Epictetus is famous for what he called the dichotomy of control which describes what is in our control.

We can apply this to failure.

The moment you start to regret something in the past you’re fundamentally acting against something which is out of your control and so there’s no practical reward from doing so only frustration and anger.

We should learn from the past and our failures, but to regret, to ponder and to revisit our previous attempts and then look at present with disdain is a crime to your character.

Therefore, we cannot live our lives with regret towards the past. Nor can we live with fear of the future. We must push on as if today is the last day we have.

As Seneca reminds us:

“No man can have a peaceful life who thinks too much about lengthening it … Most men ebb and flow in wretchedness between the fear of death and the hardships of life; they are unwilling to live, and yet they do not know how to die.”

We must learn to therefore live. We spend too much of our time wasting our lives, worrying about things that never even come to fruition. Seneca even remarks as such saying:

“There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality… What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come… Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow.”

Live today without regrets. Do not fear what may never come. Remove emotion from decisions and realize today may very well be your last. How would you want to live it?

BUY
Meditations -Marcus Aurelius
The Daily Stoic – Ryan Holiday
The Tao of Seneca – Volume I – Seneca the Younger, Presented/Prepared by Tim Ferris
The Tao of Seneca – Volume II – Seneca the Younger, Presented/Prepared by Tim Ferris
The Tao of Seneca – Volume III – Seneca the Younger, Presented/Prepared by Tim Ferris
Letters from a Stoic – Seneca the Younger
On the Shortness of Life – Seneca the Younger

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/27/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking about the following question:

What matters most in my life?

Impact.

Impact encompasses all that I wish to accomplish. Held within impact is love, money, security, compassion. Having an impact on someone or a group of people creates a lasting dynamic which is there and continues on long after we are gone.

If we’re lucky, the impact we leave on someone will be passed through time. It is through these lessons and impacts that the world continues.

Live by example and you will leave an impact.

And to me, that’s what is most important.

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/26/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking of the following question:

Am I thinking negative thoughts before I fall asleep?

The average person will sleep a third of their life away. How many nights do we spend staring up at the ceiling, thinking about how tomorrow is going to be? How we have to do X, Y, & Z at work and we immediately begin to stress out.

Henry Ford once said: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

We have all heard that our thoughts become our actions, or that we are the five people we surround ourselves with. But why do we hear this? Why does this wisdom exist? Because it has been scientifically proven to be true.

Many are aware of the 1994 experiment Dr. Masaru Emoto conducted with water. For those who aren’t, here’s the summary:

In 1994,  Dr. Emoto conducted a test wherein he placed phrases such as ‘Love and thanks’, ‘I hate you. You make me sick,’ ‘Joy’ ‘You fool,’ and ‘Gratitude’ on water bottles filled with water. After leaving the bottles in the fridge for an extended period of time, he removed the bottles and reviewed the water crystals under a microscope. The crystals from the bottles with positive phrases looked fresher while the negative phrased bottles were less fresh. The idea behind this is that human bodies are made extensively out of water and thus, positive and negative thoughts can affect our bodies in ways we may not even know.

That being said, we should all throw our lives to the wind, join a hippy commune and live a happy existence with one another, right?

Not quite.

While the study was criticized by many, the idea backing the study still stands true, thoughts and emotions run our lives on an unconscious level.

Over the last decade, much research has been conducted regarding the unconscious mind. Yale Psychologists John A. Bargh and Lawrence Williams set out to explore the subject further.

In their experiment, they juggled textbooks, papers, a clipboard, and a cup of coffee (either hot or iced) and then bumped into a student, requesting from the student help holding something. When the student offered, the psychologist provided the student with either the hot coffee or iced coffee. Later, the psychologists provided a story to the same student who helped them with the coffee.

The results?

The students holding the iced coffee interpreted the fictional character in the story as being more selfish, colder, and less social than the students who held the hot coffee cup.

Same story. Different emotions generated in part due to the cup of coffee they were holding. Their external stimuli dictated how they interpreted the world.

So if our external stimuli dictates how we interact with the world, what happens to our mental, emotional, and physical state when we hold onto negative thoughts?

We must learn to prime ourselves for a new day.

As Epictetus reminds us:

“Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man’s task.”

The stoics would journal and reflect upon the day’s events, really trying to understand what occurred, what emotions were invoked within them. But then, they’d know to let them go.

We cannot hold onto the negativity of the day or the past as the past is gone and can never be recovered.

Marcus Aurelius writes to himself in Meditations:

“It follows that the longest and the shortest lives are brought to the same state. The present moment is equal for all; so what is passing is equal also; the loss therefore turns out to be the merest fragment of time. No one can lose either the past or the future—how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess?”

Our moments on this earth are fleeting. Do not allow the negativity of a day to carry into the next.

Experience.

Reflect.

Release.

BUY
Meditations -Marcus Aurelius
Discourses – Epictetus

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/25/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking about the following question:

Am I waking up in the morning ready to take on the day?

Marcus Aurelius states:

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

If we wake each day, we should consider it a blessing to be on this earth another day. And if it is a blessing, we must treat it as such and be ready to experience life and the day to the fullest extent possible.

There are 86,400 seconds in the day. That’s 1,440 minutes. Which is 24 hours.

I often will have trouble remember just how precious our days are. How often have you found yourself moping around? Sad or depressed that your life hasn’t gone, or isn’t going the way you want? Or that you’re angry for some reason or another?

We must remember that our time on this earth is fleeting.

When met with an emotion such as anger, sadness, or indifference, ask yourself whether or not this emotion is helping you live to your fullest potential? Do not push the emotion away. Feel the emotion. Understand why it is you are feeling the way you are. Once you understand yourself, try to understand whether or not that emotion is benefiting you. If not, let it go.

We do not have the time to waste on trivial problems.

Attack today as if it is your last.

One day it will be.

BUY
Meditations -Marcus Aurelius

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/24/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking about the following question:

Am I putting enough effort into my relationships?

For the longest time, I have been focused on self-improvement. How can I be more effective at speaking, at writing, at my job. I have experimented with changing the time I went to bed and woke up, the times I worked out and ate, the times I scheduled meetings. I researched and worked to arrange and then rearrange my office to be more efficient. Daniel H. Pink, in his new book, When, actually speaks to this and how timing is not luck but in fact a science of how and when things occur.

But while I was working on all of these improvements to advance myself and my career, I did not take the time to do the same with my romantic relationship.

After going through a break-up, I realized where my flaw was.

While I had been reading every business and self-improvement book I could get my hands on, I never took the time to do the same with my relationship. While my career bloomed and I improved in efficiency, work produced, and money earned, my relationship stayed right where it was. This is not to say that I neglected my relationship in lieu of personal growth. We still spent time together, I was present in the moments we shared, we still took trips. But I wasn’t asking the questions or reading the material I should have been to strengthen my relationship and the needs of both parties.

Once we broke up, I realized just how foolish this logic was.

I read and listen to books all year round. I average 50 or more books per year, most in business, biography, and self-improvement. But I hadn’t read a single book on relationships. I hadn’t thought about how to improve my relationship. By all accounts, I felt as though we were in a good place, that we could continue to coast the way we had been.

But that’s what we’d been doing, coasting. And it was because of my thinking on the matter.

K. Anders Ericsson, a psychologist who studies how experts attain mastery, hypothesized that in order to attain mastery of a subject, one had to devote over 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to a craft. This was made even more famous by Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, which used this rule as his argument throughout the book.

While Gladwell’s book is devoted to subjects such as sports and business, I realized that the idea of dedicating the time, energy, and deliberate practice to your personal relationships could help greatly improve them as well. It wasn’t until I reread Gladwell’s Outliers after my breakup that I realized how important it was to devote this same dedication and time to making sure my relationship was as high of a priority as all of my other endeavors.

What did this mean?

This meant that I went about reading every book I could get my hands on that had to do with relationships. I read about masculinity, about male versus female power dynamics, I studied emotional intelligence and how to better understand people when they were speaking. I even delved into body language and linguistic styles to understand how a person communicates on a conscious and unconscious level.

I realized this was the type of time and devotion I should have been putting in from the beginning. If I had been wise enough to take a step back from my day-to-day attempts at self-improvement, I would have seen that this type of devotion was needed for my relationship, just like it was for my business endeavors.

As painful as that time period was for me, it built me into being a stronger man, and a better partner. As Marcus Aurelius reminds us:

“Whenever you suffer pain, keep in mind that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and that it can’t degrade your guiding intelligence, nor keep it from acting rationally and for the common good. And in most cases you should be helped by the saying of Epicurus, that pain is never unbearable or unending, so you can remember these limits and not add to them in your imagination.”

I now have devoted myself to taking a step back from work and my relationship once a week to better assess the position I am in. Is my relationship being given the necessary treatment it deserves? If not, how can I improve this?

And this doesn’t just go for romantic relationships. This type of analysis extends to close-friendships, acquaintances, family members.

Take the rest of the night and examine your relationships. Are you as close as you want to be with those individuals? If not, how can you go about improving those relationships?

BUY
When – Daniel H. Pink
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Meditations -Marcus Aurelius

Some of the books I read to better understand my failures in my relationship:

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves (Emotional Intelligence)
The Way of the Superior Man – David Deida (Masculine vs Feminine Energies)
His Needs, Her Needs – William F. Harley, Jr. (Needs of a Partner)
5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman (Understanding Partner’s Language)
The Definitive Book on Body Language – Barbara & Allan Pease (Body language)
The Art of Seduction – Robert Greene (Understanding Seduction)
The Language Instinct – Steven Pinker (Linguistics)

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/23/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking of the following question:

Am I taking care of myself physically?

Being sedentary is the new cancer. We have standing desks, walking desks, our computer monitors on walls, all to help prevent this sedentary lifestyle that technology has brought about for us.

How much time do you spend sitting at your desk at work? How much time do you spend laying on the couch at home?

More than ever before, staying in physical shape is top priority to keep us healthy, and happy.

Musonius Rufus, Epictetus’ teacher, states:

“Since a human being happens to be neither soul alone nor body alone, but a composite of these two things, someone in training must pay attention to both. He should, rightly pay more attention to the better part, namely the soul, but he should also take care of the other parts, or part of him will become defective.”

But what does it mean to take care of ourselves physically?

Eating better, getting up and out rather than staying in the house sitting down, maybe hitting the gym a few times a week, going for a walk around the block. Taking care of oneself physically does not mean we need to turn our lives upside down and start a strict diet/workout plan.

Take the necessary steps today to put yourself in proper position for tomorrow. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. We’re looking for building blocks here. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and taking care of yourself physically, spiritually, and emotionally are all vital components of that.

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Discourses – Epictetus

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?

NIGHTLY REFLECTION 6/22/18

The day has finished. We have spent today thinking of the following question:

Am I letting matters that are out of control stress me out?

This was a simple reflection to me. I break it down into the easiest terms for myself to remember.

Is there something bothering me that I cannot control? Are there things bothering me that I can control? In either case, I am the one who is in control of my emotions and how I react to those events.

In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius writes to himself:

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

I cannot waste my time worrying about things that are outside of my control. If I have control over myself and the events, then I have the power to rectify or control the events. If I have control over myself and not the events, then I have power over myself to control the emotions I have regarding the events.

Either way, I am in control of myself.

stoic-philosophy

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Meditations

How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?