Tag Archives: Meditations

STAY IN THE HERE AND NOW

There’s not a day that goes by where we are not pulled in multiple directions. Unlike days of yore, we are much more easily pulled in multiple directions due to our reliance on technology. Our phones all have access to the internet, to Facebook and social media, to all other distractions which pull our attention. Our phone chimes with a notification from an app, or an email from work, or a text message from a friend. We immediately feel the pangs of anxiety ticking like a clock, the pressure mounting as the need to respond grows larger and larger the longer we delay the response. 

The notification has snapped our attention away from the task at hand. And by doing so, has stopped us from our productivity and the opportunity to be more aligned with the present moment. In the blink of an eye, our attention to the task at hand is gone. And we think that it’s okay, because we will get back to the task at hand right after the message is responded to, or we see that video a friend just sent us. But marketers’ jobs are to keep us hooked. Once you watch that first video, there’s another after it, and before you know it, we’ve wasted 15 or 20 minutes on the distraction. Thus, the task we were performing is dead. 

Remember what Seneca says in On the Shortness of Life:

“It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it.”

Science shows that it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on track after we have been distracted by something. 25 minutes is nearly half an hour. If we work an average of eight hours a day, that’s nearly 5% of our working day we’ve lost to a single distraction. But compounded over the week, that’s almost an hour and a half. Over a month? Well, that’s over eight hours just trying to get back on track from tasks we’ve abandoned due to distractions.

Every minute counts and we must remember what a gift it is to have this moment. That we are lucky to be here, doing what we do. To be alive. 

Marcus Aurelius writes in Meditations:

“Let no act be done without a purpose, nor otherwise than according to the perfect principles of art.” 

Marcus is reminding himself, and in turn us, of the importance of our actions and our presence in those actions. Without the presence and intention to what we do, we have something that is incomplete, lacking the most vital parts of ourselves which could have been poured into whatever it is we were doing. 

Later in Meditations, Marcus writes about how it is through abstinence in something we want that we are able to be better and grow. This restriction of desires is not new, it is a powerful exercise the Stoics used to help conquer their desires of things and keep them grounded in the present moment, one of the key tenets of Stoicism. 

We need to remember that being still is okay. Not answering that text or notification is okay. The world does not end. Do not be afraid of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). We are stronger than that. 

We can spend time with ourselves. We can work to be comfortable in silence. We can spend time in solitude. It is from ourselves that we learn to create a happy and comfortable life. External stimuli will not create this for us. It is an illusion to believe it will. Ralph Waldo Emerson whose essay, Self-Reliance, was heavily influenced by the Stoics, states:

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

So how do we remain present in a distraction-laced world?

It begins first with our mindset. We must set our minds to be comfortable with silence. And it is strange at first. It is uncomfortable to sit and hear nothing. It does not feel right to not have our cell phone or computer right next to us. But does that mean it’s bad or wrong? No, of course not. Learning to be still in the world is the key to success. While everyone else is running around jumping here and there, being distracted from this or that, we have the ability to focus on something in its entirety and in turn do our best at that task. Think about what is discussed in the best-selling book The One Thing: The key is to focus on the most important task and that is it. We have the ability to do more by doing less. It is about quality not quantity. We have control over ourselves and our own actions. From this we can find peace. It means that we don’t need other things to form a happy life. Like Marcus reminds himself in Meditations:

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

To help yourself practice presence and optimize your time away from distractions, try to restrict phone usage during certain hours. Learn to become comfortable without having these right by your side. Find a place you like and go to it. Sit there in silence for five minutes and just exist without distraction. Feel your breath entering and exiting your lungs. Enjoy the moment you have, embrace the silence from all distractions. If your way of staying present is through writing, try writing with a pen and paper rather than keyboard and computer. This will not only help you retain the things you write down much better but will also keep distractions away. If you’re listening to music, try to listen to music which is instrumental only, avoiding lyrics which could pull your focus elsewhere. The point of all of this is to avoid the distractions that usually consume your day and be at complete peace with the stillness. 

By opening yourself up to stillness, you will allow creativity to freely flow through your mind, unhindered by any of the distractions or problems of the day. Your thoughts will begin to flow freely and without restriction. Allow the silence to speak to you. It will engage your focus in the present moment. Try this each day for seven days and see if you feel a difference. 

You will find that once you relinquish all distractions and are left in silence, your monkey-mind will start bouncing off of walls with ideas, things to do, worries that have gone unaddressed. Allow these thoughts to flow. Through practice, you will learn to accept the thoughts as they come up, to accept the noise they create and be comfortable with that noise. You will learn to prioritize the thoughts and speak directly to them. Thoughts tend to bounce around in our minds because they want to be heard. They’re like the kid in the classroom who keeps raising his hand saying “Pick me! Pick me!” But like the teacher in the classroom, we must teach ourselves discipline in this and center our thoughts. You can do this through journaling and writing down the thoughts. Alternatively, you can speak directly to the thoughts and explaining through self-talk that all the thoughts will be heard in order. (Safi Bahcall has a great method for dealing with insomnia due to these fluttering thoughts that he shared on the Tim Ferriss Show which you can find here,and Safi’s newest book, Loonshots, here).

Your mind needs rest and rejuvenation the same way your body does each night. Take care of it the way you would anything else. Allow it to be free of distractions. To relax. To enjoy the present moment. 

As Marcus reminds us, all we really need to live a happy life is already inside of us, we just need to stop and listen. 

WANT MORE?

We’ve enlisted the help of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca to assist us in providing even more additional guidance to help you live your most virtuous life. Want to see what wisdom they have to offer? Complete the form below and join our private monthly newsletter. Oh, and did we mention there’s also free goodies for signing up?

THE THIEF OF JOY

men's gray pullover hooded jacket

We each have our own individual lives and situations. We have unique backgrounds and traits that have made us who we are today. But yet one persistent trait that seems to follow us all is the need and desire to compare ourselves to others.

In the ever evolving world of social media and the celebrated celebrity status, we find that comparing ourselves to people of power, authority, and celebrity, whether it be real or fake –especially on social media-is prevalent throughout each and every day.

We jump onto Facebook or Instagram and see our friends at Coachella or having what seems like a better birthday than we had. We see the trips and glorified lives in which our friends are constantly living and we cannot help but feel the comparison of our own lives to those we see.

This is prevalent in the business world as well. How many times have you looked at your job and been happy or content with it only to jump on LinkedIn and see a former classmate with a better job or job title? Or a coworker who “phones in” their work but is paid twice as much as yourself?

A recent study showed that millennials are spending more money today than they historically ever have for one simple reason: fear of missing out.

With our world now so interconnected and easily accessible to the masses, we are constantly inundated with the ability to compare ourselves to those around us, and in turn, feel as though we are failing, or in other cases, less than what we actually are.

This provides a path for negative emotions to arise which can destroy us. It brings about anxiety that we are inadequate; jealousy and envy that someone has something we do not; resentment and dissatisfaction with what we do have which lead to the lies we feed ourselves to cope with the resentment and envy. How often have you heard that little voice in your head say, “He only got the promotion because his father owns the company.” Or, “Well, her boyfriend is rich so obviously he could fly her to Europe for a quick trip.”

In Robert Greene’s latest book, The Laws of Human Nature, he explains, “We almost never directly express the envy we are feeling… all of us feel envy, the sensation that others have more of what we want.” But how do we fight off these emotions when we are constantly being reminded of other people’s “fantastic” lives? One way is to remember that there will always be others who have more than us, and it is about what we have, in the present moment, that matters most. What we do not want to do is allow these emotions to erode our wellbeing. By allowing the amalgamation of these negative emotions to rule our mind, we risk losing the present moment, and in turn, risk allowing those emotions to control our actions. As Robert Greene states, “Sitting with one’s envy over a long period of time can be painful and frustrating. Feeling righteous indignation against the envied person, however, can be invigorating. Acting on envy, doing something to harm the other person, brings satisfaction… although the satisfaction is short-lived because enviers always find something new to envy.” Being envious of others creates a never ending cycle of negativity within our lives. We must work to combat these emotions.

In his fantastic book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday directly addresses the problem of social media and how it plays into our comparison with others. “Almost universally, the kind of performance we give on social media is positive. It’s more “Let me tell you how well things are going. Look how great I am.” It’s rarely the truth: “I’m scared. I’m struggling. I don’t know.”

Long ago, Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed that comparison is the thief of joy, and that quote has never been more prevalent than today due to how interconnected and accessible everyone is.

But this is not a 21st century problem. The stoics themselves suffered all of the same emotions we currently do, albeit through different circumstances. They did not have social media and were not as easily connected to others as we are today. But think about Epictetus, born into this world as a slave to a wealthy family nearly 2,000 years ago. How easy would it have been for him to grow up seeing the riches of others and allow those emotions of cynicism, anger, and resentment to dictate and control his fate?

In his journal, Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, the most powerful man in the world at the time, had to remind himself to be present and only concerned with himself. He stated, “How much time he saves who does not look to see what his neighbors says or does or thinks.” Marcus knew that comparing himself to others did nothing but waste time. He accepted what he had, accepted the cards and fate he was dealt, and made the most of that time and opportunity. “Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own.” In essence, he loved and accepted his fate. Amor Fati.

But comparison doesn’t end there. It also blinds us to the positives we have in life. By always comparing ourselves to others, we risk losing the most important thing within our control, the present moment. Epictetus himself even stated, after a prized possession of his was stolen, “a man loses only that which he already has.”

We must therefore fight the urge to compare ourselves to others. It does us no good to sit and dwell on what we do not have. We have the present moment, and what we make of that time. Nothing more.

But how does one go against fighting this urge? We cannot simply shun our friends or social media. We cannot isolate ourselves to a cave and never see another human being again. We must learn to coexist in the world with the knowledge and acceptance that there will always be a tiny voice in our head, egging us on to compare ourselves or our situation to others. But we must train our mind to be strong against this. We must fight this temptation and extinguish it.

In his amazing and simple book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It, Kamal Ravikant explains a technique James Altucher taught him. He states in the book that when a useless thought enters his mind, he immediately cuts it off with two simple words, “Not useful.” This simple yet profound technique is the beginning of finding ways to control negative thoughts that take you away from your purpose in life and the present moment. By cutting off the serpent’s head, you are stopping the thought in its tracks. At first, it may not work. You may say “Not useful” and the thought still lingers. But your mind is a muscle, and thus must be built up the way a weightlifter might build up his body. By repeatedly performing this act, you are creating new grooves in your mind, and from that, new synapses will form to conquer your negative thoughts as they arise. You will get to the point where your reaction is no longer envy or jealousy, but rather, indifference.

The same goes for thoughts of people comparing themselves to you. Does it truly matter if someone compares themselves to you? You have your life, with your own goals and desires. They have the same for themselves. As Robert Greene advises, “It is a fact of social life that there are always people who are superior to us in wealth, intelligence, likeability, and other qualities.” So who is someone else to come in and compare their life to your own? Does it make you feel better to know you have more than someone else, or that you are more successful than others? Does it provide you a boost of confidence? A feeling of accomplishment? If so, you may need to check your ego. As Ryan Holiday states in Ego is the Enemy, “Silence. The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.”

When it comes to comparison, Epictetus himself also states, “It is actually a good thing to be thought foolish and simple with regard to matters that don’t concern us. Don’t be concerned with other people’s impressions of you. They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence.”

We must therefore form actionable steps and exercises to control and extinguish the negative emotions from our lives. We must learn to stay present in the current moment; we must appreciate the fact that we have our own lives which are populated with our own goals, desires, and wants; we must realize that we are in control of ourselves and our lives-there will always be things outside of our control, but stoicism is about understanding what is in our own control and accepting those that are not; we must make the most of our time on this earth and work, ever so diligently, to grab hold and achieve our purpose; we must find ways to properly create new neurological pathways so that when we do feel those pangs of envy arise through comparison, we are no longer affected by them; and we must create the work and environment we want for our lives.

Because at the end of the day, as Epictetus stated, you must “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.”

Asking Yourself: Is This In My Control?

Stoicism is built on the freedom of one’s mind, one’s own will, and the divine nature of life.

Stoicism teaches individuals how to develop self-control. This means training oneself to rise above the emotions that destroy situations, and how we have control over our emotions such as anger, hate, and jealousy. By training ourselves to overcome these emotions, we gain more control over our lives. We’re less prone to lashing out, saying things we do not mean, or overreacting to the situation at hand. By keeping these emotions in check we are able to keep a clearer head and assess the situation which currently stands before us.

IS THIS IN MY CONTROL?

This question will help you train yourself in differentiating what is in your control and what isn’t. It is about simplifying our lives to understanding the control we possess and the lack of control we have over certain situations.

Someone said something nasty to you, how will you respond? Will you lashout? Take it out on someone else down the line? Or you didn’t get the promotion you wanted at work. Will you talk gossip throughout the office? Curse your bosses and tell your co-workers upper management doesn’t know what they’re doing? Or will you stand tall, assess the situation, find key ways to improve yourself, and look to get promoted the following year?

By understanding that we have control over how we act and react, we gain more control over our current situation, our life, and our future.

Earlier today I posted the following quote on Instagram by Marcus Aurelius (@stoicwithin):

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

Even the most powerful man in the world at the time had to remind himself on a daily basis to analyze what was in his control and what was outside of his control. Meditations, Marcus Aurelius’s journal, time and time again references passages to himself similar to the above.

As we move through life, we must ask ourselves the question time and time again, “Is this in my control?”

I will leave you with one final quote on the matter, this one coming from Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl in his memoir Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”

 

IF – A Look at Stoicism During the Victorian-Era

The poem IF – by Rudyard Kipling was written in 1895 and first appeared in Kipling’s book Rewards and Fairies. It is recognized as one of the most quoted and beloved poems of all time and provides a perfect example of stoicism.

IF – Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

As you see from the poem, it is advice on keeping calm in the face of adversarial challenges, knowing that you are in control of your own emotions. You are in control of how you react to the environments you are put into.

As Marcus Aurelius reminds himself in Meditations:

Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.

Remember that there are things that happen in life that are outside your control meaning you cannot change them. What you can do, however, is change how you react to them. While the shit-storm of life is swirling around you, and you feel like you’re drowning, like there is nothing you can do about your situation, whether it be in love, finance, or career, remember that you have control over yourself and how you react to the problems on hand.

No one can take that from you.

 

Further Reading

Meditations -Marcus Aurelius
IF – Rudyard Kipling

QUOTE OF THE WEEK 7/7/18

thumbnail

“The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time, but takes place every day.”
-Samuel Beckett

Like the world, we are not the same from one day to the next. Each day brings with it new adventures, obstacles, successes, and failures. Therefore, as we experience these events, we are changed by them.

In Mediations, Marcus Aurelius reminds us of how important it is to embrace the moment we are in. He states:

“Give it the whole of your attention, whether it be a material object, an action, a principle, or the meaning of what is being said.”

By holding onto the present moment, in the action we are performing or the event going on around us, we embrace the experience on a deeper level. By doing this, we learn and grow from the experiences that life presents to us.

Like the world ever changing around us, we too are every changing. We are acting and reacting to our environment, our friends and family, the actions we take.

Be sure to stay present within all and by doing so, we will continue to grow.

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?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK 6/30/18

thumbnail (1)

“…what keeps the whole world in being is Change: not merely change of the basic elements, but also change of the larger formations they compose. On these thoughts rest content, and ever hold them as principles.”
-Marcus Aurelius

Change.

It is a fundamental part of life. Our bodies change, our friendships, our family, lives, character. Throughout the events of our days and years, the world around us changes, often times, this will cause ourselves to change, to grow.

A big theme of today’s environment is growth, a constant state of progression and change. James Altucher talks about reinventing yourself. He has even formed a movement out of it. James states reinventing yourself never stops and that in order to progress or start over in life, we will need to reinvent ourselves. Why is this important? Because stagnation equals death.

Thousands of years ago, we as primitive creatures relied upon nuts and berries to survive. With the invention of fire, we were able to cook meat, and the innovations of mankind for the betterment of society continued to grow and advance from there.

Think for a second about everything that came because of a change in our thinking and actions. Would we as a civilization be where we are or would we still be foraging for nuts and berries?

Change is inevitable. Change is necessary.

It is what keeps the world spinning. As long as there is man, there will be growth and change. At times, this can be scary. For example, over the next 20 years, what is going to happen to those whose jobs are going to be replaced by automation? What will happen when we have self-driving cars and self-serving restaurants?

You are looking at a workforce out of commission. A change. How will we react to this? We must change in order to keep moving forward.

Save money. Build new skills. Find a way to become irreplaceable. As James Altucher says, we must reinvent ourselves.

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 6/26/18

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?