Intro to Stoicism

Oxford Dictionary defines Stoicism as “an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.

At its core, Stoicism is about trusting life as it is, not how we think it should be. 

It’s about focusing on what’s in our control — our lives, and acting virtuously, not being pushed and pulled by our emotions.

Practicing Stoicism helps us see life objectively, giving us an understanding that we are not the center of the Universe — That the Universe is indifferent to our thoughts and feelings, and that that’s perfectly okay. This knowledge helps us live less selfishly and more cooperatively.

Stoicism has been practiced for thousands of years by numerous people. Other than Zeno, a few famous early practitioners of Stoicism were Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus, about 2,000 years ago. The modern day leader in Stoicism is Ryan Holiday, who gave me the opportunity to intern with him; a modern day apprenticeship. There were many events that led to this, it didn’t just happen, which you can read how it all came to be here on Thought Catalog.

During this time Holiday deepened my knowledge of Stoicism, inspiring me to apply these practices into my life — which doesn’t make someone perfect, it just makes us more Stoic, which you can decide if that’s good or bad.

I contemplated Stoic ideas before knowing they were Stoic ideas, thinking they were just far-out thoughts. Then, when reading Holiday’s book recommendations, I came across Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and devoured it. It was one of those books that I got pulled into and didn’t want to leave. I highly recommend reading the whole book, but here’s a link to some of Meditation’s main ideas for now.

Below are 4 fundamental Stoic principles you can begin practicing today:

1) Asking, “Is this within my control?”

—If yes, ask, “How can I act virtuously in this moment?”
—If not, ask, “How can I act virtuously in this moment?”

Most of life isn’t in our control, but our response is.

2) Sympatheia

—This is the idea that all things are connected and mutually interdependent. 

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations, wrote: 

“The universe made rational creatures for the sake of each other, with an eye toward mutual benefit based on true value and never for harm.”

Here is a YouTube video speech given by Carl Sagan to view life from a perspective outside of yourself, thus, growing in the practice of Sympatheia.

3) Amor Fati

—The idea and practice of loving your fate. 
—Things often don’t happen as we’d like them to happen, but we can learn to appreciate all that happens to us by practicing Amor Fati.

Here is a link to an ancient proverb, telling us a story that shows us how when we think something “bad” has happened, it can be good in disguise, and when we think something “good” has happened, it can be bad in disguise. It’s one of my favorite stories and has broadened my way of thinking.

Nietzsche is quoted saying, “my formula for greatness in a human being is Amor Fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it, but love it.”

Epictetus, born a slave, said: “Demand not that things happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do, and you will go on well.”

4) Memento Mori

—Remember you will die.
—This idea scares some people, but it inspires Stoics.  

“If everything is ephemeral, what does matter? Right now matters. Being a good person and doing the right thing right now, that’s what matters and that’s what was important to the Stoics. Be humble and honest and aware.”
Ryan Holiday

We all know we are going to die one day, but it is a subject rarely talked about. We’d rather ignore the fact of death instead of embrace it, so it ends up scaring the hell out of us. Let’s start discussing the topic of death. Let’s let it inspire us to live life wholly, focusing on what’s important, keeping in mind we won’t live forever, and that’s okay.

Here are some inspiring Memento Mori related quotes:

“Every third thought shall be my grave.”
William Shakespeare

“People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too. And those after them in turn. Until their memory, passes from one to another like a candle flame, gutters and goes out.”
Marcus Aurelius

“So this is how a thoughtful person should await death: not with indifference, not with impatience, not with disdain, but simply viewing it as one of the things that happens to us. Now you anticipate the child’s emergence from its mother’s womb; that’s how you should await the hour when your soul will emerge from its compartment.”
Marcus Aurelius

“Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do this anymore?”
Marcus Aurelius

“To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” 
Michel de Montaigne

“Of all the footprints, that of the elephant is supreme. Similarly, of all mindfulness meditation, that on death is supreme.”
Buddha

These are just a few Stoic principles you can begin practicing today. I recommend checking out dailystoic.com for more articles on Stoicism, reminders to:

Act virtuously.
Trust the unknown.
Love your fate.
Remember death.

A 3-Step Process to Begin Creating YOUR Life

1—Define your ideal life.

Ask yourself: 
—“What does my ideal life look like?”
—“What does my ideal job look like?”
—“What do my ideal relationships look like?”

Continue this process of questions in each area you want to improve in.

2—Write down your answers.

It’s one thing to contemplate your ideal life, but when you write it on paper or a word doc, it enters the physical world and plants seeds into your subconscious.

3—Affirm your ideal life.

Your mind is like a garden, what you put into it is what will grow.

I have experienced this first-hand, “coincidentally” brushing shoulders with giants again and again. Affirm it daily. The more you affirm it, the more it will manifest.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.”
—Buddha 

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
―Thomas Jefferson

“If you have a strong mind and plant in it a firm resolve, you can change your destiny.”
―Paramahansa Yogananda

This process is extremely effective in manifesting a life of your choosing. It’s simple yet requires great responsibility.

Some say “With great power comes great responsibility,” but it’s more like “With great responsibility comes great power.”

Great spiritual teachers spoke of this.
Great psychologists spoke of this.
Great philosophers spoke of this.
&Great scientists speak of this.

A Panda’s Journey includes all the above, and it can be learned.

I offer one-to-one coaching but recommend starting with our weekly free emails.

Just enter your email below to join hundreds of others learning This Path of the Panda.

The path of Responsibility. 
The path of Empowerment.
The path of Truth.

The path to your Best Life.

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A Panda’s Journey

A Panda’s Journey incorporates Spirit & Mind with Quantum Physics to reveal the power within you.

The power within us all.

The power of realizing you are in control of your destiny.

Leading you to the power of training & disciplining your mind to create a destiny of your choosing.

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This isn’t new.
 
Geniuses of all kinds, past and current, understood this truth and applied it in their lives.

Science is now catching up with the minds of geniuses, discovering truth in this law of the human mind.

This discovery is both fascinating & frightening knowing we are literally creating our lives.

It’s liberating but requires deliberate, responsible action, which Freud says most people don’t actually want:

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”

And here’s Bob Dylan:

“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”

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I’ve previously heard these “ideas”, thinking they were cool, but it wasn’t until recently that this truth hit me like walking into a brick wall before being absorbed by it.

That’s how this feels for me & my gratitude is through the roof.

I feel alive in a way I never fully experienced before & want to share it with you.

I invite you to join me and hundreds of others on this empowering and world-changing journey by signing up for our weekly email list. 

Learn about your mind in a way you never knew, to live the life you never thought you could.

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Intro to Timothy Leary

Born — October 22, 1920, Springfield, MA

Growing Up

—Only child in Irish Catholic home.

—Tim’s Father, also named Timothy, was a dentist, and left the family when Tim was 14. 

—Graduated from a high school in Massachusetts.

—1938-1940 Became a cadet in U.S. Military at West Point, but was a trouble maker. He was shunned and silenced from fellow cadets. This led to court appearances where Timothy then resigned and honorably discharged from the Army.

—He had gone to numerous jails throughout his whole life(first time in 1965), with the above case he said the military trial was “the only fair trial I’ve had in a court of law.”

—1950 received doctorate in psychology from University of California Berkeley, becoming an assistant professor until 1955. During this time he developed a psychotherapy model (egalitarian model) for psychotherapist and patients. 

—1959 Lecturer at Harvard University.

—1960 Leary tried psilocybin mushrooms for the first time, commenting afterwards:

“I learned more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than the preceding 15 years of studying and doing research in psychology.”

—In the following years he linked up with Richert Alpert – commonly known as Ram Dass, who was also a Harvard lecturer, studying and analyzing psilocybin’s effect on the brain. He concluded that psychedelics, under the guidance of psychologists/guides, in the right dose and good setting, could benefit people in ways that normal therapy couldn’t.

—1970 received a 10-year prison sentence. He had designed a psychological test for prisoners in the previous years, and he was given the test. That same year he answered all the right questions to put him in the most low-security prison possible, where he ended up escaping.

—He joined the Black Panther Party in Algeria after his escape – before one of the leaders of the Party attempted to hold him and his wife hostage. Tim and his wife left to Switzerland.

—Richard Nixon labeled Leary as “The most dangerous man in America”

—1973 After more traveling to escape getting caught, he was arrested and faced 95 years in prison, but ended up with a 15 year sentence, in Folson Prison, California, where his cell was beside Charles Manson’s cell. They couldn’t see each other but they conversed.

—Leary became an FBI informant to shorten his prison sentence, where he was released in 1976.

—Leary continued lecturing, debating, and writing the rest of his life.

Leary had an adventurous life to say the least, this is just a short outline of some of it. 

—Multiple songs have been written about or for Leary, including John Lennon writing “Come Together” for Leary during Leary’s political pursuit.

—The Moody Blues wrote the song “Legend of a Mind” with the main lyrics being “Timothy Leary’s dead..No he’s on the outside looking in.” …Leary was still alive at this time.

Written Books

The Psychedelic Experience

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

High Priest

—Your Brain Is God

He wrote many others that can be found online. 

Here’s a documentary from BBC on YouTube about Timothy Leary’s life, titled “The Man Who Turned On America

Died — May 31, 1996, Beverly, CA

“Think for yourself and question authority.”

“Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”

“Grow with the flow.”

“Any reality is an opinion-we make up our own reality.”

“I am 100 percent in favor of the intelligent use of drugs, and 1,000 percent against the thoughtless use of them, whether caffeine or LSD. And drugs are not central to my life.”

“If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people.”

Here is a related post about questioning your assumptions.

What’s your favorite Leary moment?

The Collapse & Renewal of “The System”

Can you feel it?

The tensions rising along with the sea levels.

Awareness rising in the corruption that has contaminated the entire world from micro to macro levels and everything in between.

I know you can feel it. I can too.

We’re coming to a tipping point in the Systems we’ve built throughout the previous centuries.

These Systems can’t last if we want to last as a human race.

The game of Power, Corruption, and Deception are fading, making way for an up to date and well founded System.

Is it difficult to believe that it’s possible to have Systems built on Trust, Cooperation, Shared Success, and Forgiveness that disciplines with love and does not punish mindlessly?

When a baby is learning to walk and they fall, do you punish them?

Do you tell them “You’re no good. You’re never going to be able to walk. Don’t even try it. Go to your crib.”

Or do you lift them up and encourage them, knowing that they will walk one day.

In life, when we humans are learning to “human,” and we make a mistake we are usually punished for it.

There’s no love in punishment so there’s no real growth. I understand if you believe there is love in punishment because that is what recent generations have been raised to believe. But many many studies show how punishment is not working!

Here is an article from Psychology Today discussing the many ways punishment impacts your child, including how punishment does not teach your child accountability. Also 10 ways to guide children without punishment is included in this article.

Here is a Pinterest page sharing many articles on how to love your kids and others unconditionally as well as how to deal with aggressive or inappropriate behavior in others.

I don’t know the full solution but I do know that discipline with love would help.

Is that hard to do? Absolutely.

And it’s easy to punish.

We all know that beautiful things take time to flourish, such as a flower. It needs cared for and nurtured to grow. If we punish the flower by cutting part of it off it will never be able to blossom into the flower it is meant to become.

Of course there will be resistance and some discomfort against the new System, as there is with all fights for justice, but in the end “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice,” as MLK Jr. once said.

They say if it’s not broken don’t fix it…But we’ve got ourselves a broken System.

I do love my country but don’t you also want a better life for future generations of all backgrounds?

Education. Politics. Athletics. Business. Hollywood. And just about all current Systems have some corruption within them.

You can’t blame them though. That’s just how it’s been. 

But it’s a new day. It’s a new era.

The shame blame game will hopefully come to an end and love with discipline can take its place.

No one is perfect, and until we can fully realize that and change how we deal with all our imperfections and how we treat each other, we just won’t last.

Who am I to write this? Just a flawed fellow human on this journey of life, trying to figure it out.

But we adapt. That’s what we do as humans. Look at history.

Shall we adapt once more?

If you believe in a new System you might also like this relative & unique rap song I recorded in the studio called “Cloud 9”

What methods do you believe would contribute to a more stable and just System?

It’s okay to feel bad

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And it’s okay to feel good.  

How long have we had this idea in America that everyone should be happy all the time?

The media portrays smiling families, good times, and happy endings, but that isn’t always the case.

happy people

How people think they should be.

unhappy_customers

How people think they shouldn’t be.

You don’t need to be happy all the time To Live A Great Life.

Does your Instagram look like the picture on the top left?

Oftentimes we look at someone who is upset and think “Oh there must be something wrong with them.”  Why do we think something has to be wrong?  Maybe it’s okay for them to feel bad.  It’s okay for them to feel what they feel.  When we allow our feelings to come and don’t try to force them to leave, they will leave on their own.  When we try to control our emotions, they multiply.

You are not alone in your struggles.  Basically everyone at one point or another in their lifetime will experience depression, anxiety, OCD etc.

Check out this list of some of the greats who have dealt with depression and in some cases suicide:

Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Ludwig Wan Beethoven, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Allen Poe, Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Orwell, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Kurt Cobain, Ellen Degeneres, Johnny Depp, Eminem, Chris Evans, Jon Hamm, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Michael Phelps, Brad Pitt, J.K. Rowling, Channing Tatum, Owen Wilson, and many others.

Robin-Williams-Quotes-Good-Will-Hunting-1

So we can be there to support others and to support ourselves because everyone is going through something, and that’s okay.  We need to remember that everyone suffers in life, and the meaning we give our suffering can make our lives better or worse.

“You don’t need to feel great to act great.” Coach T

So how can we gain Peace of Mind through this idea of accepting our feelings as they are?

“Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.” Eckhart Tolle

Echart Tolle

A Study…

Psychologists at the University of California Berkeley have researched and tested the idea of accepting negative emotions and have found that “people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health.”

See their article Here

These psychologists have also stated that acceptance and self-compassion are two key habits to happiness.

“People who accept their emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”

My Experience

There have been multiple times where I’ve experienced overwhelming feelings.  Over time I’ve learned that I can sit and dwell in these feelings or I can try to move on.  Sometimes these feelings come back to me, but I now work on accepting them as they are.  I allow myself to feel what I’m feeling, and then let the emotions go away in their time.

I remind myself that these feelings are temporary.  They will pass, and it will be okay.  With each new day comes a choice to suppress our emotions, or to allow them to come and then go.

Smiling helps, just look in the mirror and smile.  It’s funny, I know.  Try it for a few minutes and see what happens.

I Exercise.  This is something that is known to boost endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body.

Or you can take some time to just breathe.  Listen to your breath, just your breath.  Find a comfortable place, let go of the wandering mind and breathe.  Listening to your breath allows you to get back to this moment, here, now.  Try that for five minutes just to see how often your mind wanders.

I am not perfect at this craft, but I enjoy the practice and think you will too!

Peace-of-Mind

Conclusion:

It’s okay to think & feel happy, sad, depressed, anxious, joyous, all the emotions.

Remember that feelings are temporary; they will pass, but your actions will last.

Try to be conscious of how you are thinking and feeling when you are down, and don’t allow yourself to just dwell on auto-pilot in negative feelings.  Feel what you feel, accept what you’re feeling and thinking, even wave to your feelings if you’d like, and then watch them go like cars passing by.

Peace of Mind is not just a state of relaxation.

Peace of Mind isn’t about feeling a certain way.  

It’s about feeling the way you feel.

Feeling how you feel is the greatest happiness of all.

“You can’t stop the waves (of emotions) but you can learn to surf.”

Above all, it’s about letting the mind be as it is and knowing something about how it is in this moment.  It’s not about getting somewhere else, but about allowing yourself to be where you already are. — Jon Kabat-Zin

Thanks for reading!  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Someone You Should Know: Derek Sivers

Writer, entrepreneur, musician, programmer, and student, Derek Sivers.  I first heard Derek speak on the Tim Ferris podcast, and thought, “This guy sounds very interesting.”  I had never heard of Derek Sivers before, but he is definitely someone worth knowing!!

I continued listening to Derek speak, and I took a few screenshots of his name on the podcast so that I would remember him and be able to look him up on google later.  As I looked up Derek on google I saw a picture of him that seemed appropriate to his voice as I heard him through podcast.

DerekSivers

Derek has made millions of dollars and has given away millions of dollars.  He lives a life worth living.  His writings focus on the usable psychology of self-improvement, business and philosophy to name a few.

Out of the numerous amounts of writings Derek has completed I could write about them all, but I am choosing to discuss his notes on “How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want.”  This book and Derek’s notes remind me of the person Derek is, an open-minded, understanding, genuine illusion-breaking person.  One of these illusions is that we know our own minds more deeply than we actually do.  This can make your mind appear superior to the minds of others.  Most people will live believing their mind is superior to others, but Derek breaks through this illusion.

I was electrified when I received an email back from Derek this past week, but after reading his works it makes sense.  Mr. Sivers is a giver, he likes to connect with his fans and does the public a service by answering emails from mostly anyone.  So if you have a question for the down-to-earth millionaire, email him at derek@sivers.org.  I very much appreciate what you do Derek, and thank you for your humble lifestyle.

Here are some useful quotes from Derek’s notes:

“Your brain’s greatest skill is its ability to think about the minds of others in order to understand them better.”

“You are consciously aware of your brain’s finished products-conscious attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and feelings-but are unaware of the processes your brain went through to construct those final products, and you are therefore unable to recognize its mistakes.”

“Naive realism: the intuitive sense that we see the world out there as it actually is, rather than as it appears from our perspective.” (In other words, a person thinks other people are wrong for their views because their own views are “right”)

“Universal tendency to assume that other’s minds are less sophisticated and more superficial than one’s own.”

“Treat workers with respect, encourage them to think independently, allow them to make decisions, and make them feel connected to an important effort.”

“The social spotlight does not shine on us nearly as brightly as we think.”

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

“Engage the minds of others more routinely instead of treating nearby neighbors as mindless objects.”

“The expert’s problem is assuming that what’s so clear in his or her own mind is more obvious to others.”

“Politicians talk about what ‘the people’ want: the speaker’s own beliefs.”

“You define yourself by the attributes that make you different.”

“Nearly everything you know is secondhand: things you know only because someone told you.”

“You can’t judge another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.  You hear it so often because the advice is so routinely ignored-by the rich who judge the poor as lazy and incompetent, the sober who judge the addicted to be weak and immoral, and the happy who can’t understand why the depressed don’t just ‘snap out of it.'”