Daily Journey – January 2018

Daily Journey is a collection of my thoughts from reading The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.  My objective is to gain greater control of my emotional responses by reading and sharing my thoughts on stoicism with you all everyday over the course of a year.  If you would like to explore these topics with me, and others who are seeking to gain emotional control come over to the Mastery of Skill closed facebook group to join in on the conversation.

Live Skillfully!

-Jon

*****

January 1st – Control and Choice

The first step to making any positive changes in your life is to recognize what is controlling the behavior/situation that you want to change.
Is it in your control?

No really… I mean at its root, is it something you can control?

Don’t be lazy about it, really take a deep look.

I would argue that you will have some degree of control in almost all situations you find yourself in.

Knowing what part (or parts) of the problem are within your control gives you the clarity you need to start making choices about how to deal with it.

You have to know what you can change before you start trying to fix a problem.

So what do you want to change? What part of the situation do you control? What are you doing about it?

January 2nd – Education Is Freedom

I am a fan of education. More specifically I am fan of learning and pursuing knowledge and wisdom.
 
Having access to information isn’t the same thing as learning. So much information is available on the internet, and that is a good thing… but if you don’t take the time to learn and pursue facts you are at the mercey and control of the information broker. You aren’t really free when your thoughts are based on information that is controlled by someone else.
 
Seeking knowledge and wisdom through learning, training, and experience will give you a new ability to see an understand yourself and the world around you.

January 3rd – Be Ruthless To The Things That Don’t Matter

Learning how to turn down frivolous time wasters will afford you the margins in time you need focus on the things that really matter to you.
 
So no to pointless or foolish emotions along with wasteful amusements so you can start saying yes to the things you truly want in life.

January 4th – The Big Three

Perception, Action, and Will Power.
 
Perception helps you focus in on the root cause of a problem or situation and isolate what needs to change.
 
Actions can then be deliberate and calculated for a planned for a planned result.
 
Your will power can then be used to see the solution through to its conclusion.

January 5th – Clarify Your Intentions

Plan your efforts to the completion of a goal. Build a habit to routinely assess yourself to see if you have strayed off track. Constantly adjust/calibrate either the goal, your direction, your effort… or all three.

January 6th – Where, Who, What, and Why

Where did you come from and where are you going?
 
Who are you and who do you want to be?
 
What do you want?
 
Why do you want it?
 
Getting clarity on the deep answers to these questions is one of the keys to understanding what really matters.

January 7th – Seven Clear Functions of the Mind

Choice, Refusal, Yearning, Repulsion, Preparation, Purpose, and Assent.
The purpose of our mind is to help us make good choices. To fight temptations and to set a desire to improve. To push back negativity, bad influences, and falsehoods. To establish and hold principles and priorities. And to break our deception of what is and is not in our control

January 8th – Seeing Our Addictions

 Take back the ability to do without the smallest of addictions so you can regain control over yourself and your life.
 
Some of the “harmless” little bad habits we develop overtime have a way of eating away at our clarity about what is going on around us and thereby whittling away at our freedom to choose and act for ourselves.
 
The world around us is engineered and designed to ingrain some of these habits in us to lead us down paths that are not of our choosing.
 
Do you really want to be looking at your cell phone for hours of the day… do you even want to carry it around with you? When was the last time you even went to the bathroom without it?
 
How about the television? Do you really want to binge watch the newest TV show? Do you really want hours on the coach with nothing to show for it?
 
Get back in control! Replace these habits with the habit of taking care of yourself, your family, and your friends.

January 9th – What We Control and What We Don’t

 Your sphere of influence starts with you and your perspective as the only thing you have complete control over. Focusing on improving yourself will have a carried over effect on those within your range of influence so start there.

January 10th – If You Want To Be Steady

 Sound, unbiased judgement is the key to developing steadiness, stability, and tranquility.
 
When outside influence are improperly filtered through our refined sense of judgement then our choices and decisions about the world become flawed.

January 11th – If You Want To Be Unsteady

Letting the world around you have undue influence on your ability to think rationally and make reasoned decisions is a sure fire way to take yourself out of balance.

If we want to remain calm in the storm we must be the product of our own reasoned choices, not the product of our environment.

January 12th – The One Path To Serenity

 Happiness and peace is found in letting go of the things we have no control over, while at the same time firmly holding to the parts of the world that are.
 
Serenity is the result of making the deliberate and reasoned choice to let go of the chaos and discord around us that we don’t and will never have any influence over.
 
Having this serenity will then give clarity to better understand your role and place in the world.

January 13th – Circle of Control

 The only thing wholey in your circle of control is your thoughts. But these thoughts spill out into your sphere of influence.
 
Simplifying the process gives clarity and focus
 
Thoughts in the mind influence the actions of the body. Thes actions in turn influence the world around it.
 
By being deliberate about your thoughts you can exercise greater control of your actions, which may result in the desired changes in the world around you.

January 14th – Cut The Strings That Pull Your Mind

There are forces that push and pull our minds. Be careful of what you allow into your life and to what degree you you let them influence you.

If there are negative influences in your life, cut them out.

January 15th – Peace Is In Staying the Course

Peace of mind can be found when we develop the clarity to know and assess when we are on a path headed in the right direction.
 
Once we are on that path we can be more deliberate about staying on it, or adjusting our effort, so we can reach the goal we are pursuing.
 
The combination of this clarity and focus enables us to fight off the changin whims and distractions of the world around us.

January 16th – Never Do Anything Out of Habit

Just because you have always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s right… or the best way to do it.
 
Look for these points in your life, where habit is controlling action and see if this mantra fits.
 
This is place you can advance and grow. Seize this opportunity to improve!

January 17 – Reboot the Real Work

The reality is that you know the work you need to do to meet your goals.
 
Just start doing it.

January 18th – See the World Like a Poet and an Artist

Having the clarity to see the beauty in the simple and mundane leads to joy. We can develop this ability to see by studying art, while poetry enhances our ability to put our visions and feelings into words.
 
Pick up a pencil and poem and see how the world around you starts to change.

January 19th – Wherever You Go, There Your Choice Is

All other factors aside the only thing that constantly remains in our control is our reasoned choice.

January 20th – Reignite Your Thoughts

You can always start over. It is well within your ability to adjust your thoughts and behaviors to get back on track after your stray off course.

There are always going to be set backs and times when we fall behind. These spots are dangerous because they make us vulnerable to the tyranny of time. One day wasted makes it easier to waste another… and before you know it a week, and then two weeks has gone by.

Spot these devilish times and fight to get back in control so that time can work for you instead of against you.

January 21st – A Morning Ritual

Having a defined morning ritual is a keystone habit for taking control of your life. I am not playing around here… a morning ritual is a must have. You need to find a something that works for you but the most useful morning routines include exercise, meditation, and journaling.
 
1. Make coffee
2. Push ups and squats (exercise)
3. Multivitamin
4. Read the Daily Stoic (meditation)
5. Write my daily journey post (journaling)
6. Go to the gym for strength training or cardio (exercise) I also use this time to listen to an audio book or podcast
7. Study – currently taking a drawing class through The Great Courses Plus (with my coffee… see step one)
8. Plan my day
9. Go to work
 
What is your routine?

January 22nd – They Day In Review

Journaling is about assessing your progress and results. Seneca Williams used the following questions at the end of each day to gauge his progress.
 
-What bad habit did I curb today?
-How am I better today?
-Were my actions just?
-How can I improve?
 
We use the SMASTER questions at dinner time
 
-What did you do to get smarter?
-What did you do to get faster?
-What did you do to get stronger?
-What was the best part of your day?
-What was your biggest challenge?
 
The morning and evening is also a good time for personal self reflection using the 5 minute journal method. Just write down the answer to these questions in a small notebook.
 
I am grateful for…
1.
2.
3.
What would make today great..
1.
2.
3.
Daily Affirmation
1. I am…
2. I am…
3. I am…
 
In the evening recap the day with these questions.
 
Three amazing things that happened today..
1.
2.
3.
How could I have made today better?
1.
2.
3.
 
What are your journaling tactics? If you don’t have one, try out one (or all of these). Nothing but a better you on the other side.

January 23rd – The Truth About Money

The rich still have problems. External resources do not fix internal problems.

January 24th – Push for Deep Understanding

So much of the information we consume on a daily basis is just passing through our stream conscious thought (or even unconscious thought). It seems that very little information gets pursued to its roots.
 
We are so quick to toute the genius of the internet and the unlimited access we have to information that we sometimes fail to realize that we don’t actually know anything. We simply know how to get what we want.
 
The sad part of this story is that, because we can so easily get what we want… we more often then not, are missing what we need.
 
Access to information is not the same thing as a deep understanding of something.
 
Do not sell yourself short by only taking a glance at the greatness the world has to offer. Be more than a tourist in this world. Be a researcher, learn for real. Dive deep and find true knowledge in your search.

January 25th – The Only Prize

Don’t over complicate your life pursuing false happiness. The things, the money, the fame… you know deep down none of this matters in the end and will all pail in comparison to life well lived. Everything else will fall in the shadow of your love for friends and family.
 
Focus on that one grand prize… everything else will fall into place

January 26th – The Power of a Mantra

A mantra is a just a simple but powerful phrase you can use to point yourself back to center. I got my favorite mantra from my dad.

“Accept it, live with it, and get on with your life.”

To me this simple phrase helps me recognize when something is out of my control or influence, gets me focused on adjusting to the circumstances, and reminds me that I have other important things to worry about.

What’s your mantra?

January 27th – The Three Areas of Training

The Stoics looked to three main areas of focus when training the actions, behaviors and beliefs. These were: Desires and Aversions, Impulse for action and inaction, and sound mental judgement.

These categories can more simply defined as what we want, what we do to get it, and why we want it. Getting to the root of these three question will help focus your efforts and meet your objectives and goals.

January 28th – Watching the Wise

The world is full of role models, some good and some bad. It is always a good idea to watch those who have “been there, and done that.” They have walked the heroes journey and returned with some valuable lesson to impart to you, and it is up to you to seek them out and learn all you can from them.
 
Paying close attention to what they run towards and away from will give you a glimpse into the experiences that made them wise enough to be a role model in the first place.

January 29th – Keep It Simple

Keeping it simple is hard. It takes work to push out the distractions that pile on when we are required to act. There will always be emotions and drama, vanity and pride, bureaucracy and process, stress, strain and limitations.
 
Marcus Aurelius advised approaching each task like it was your last act so you could cut through all the things that don’t matter and engage with the heart of the issue and complete the task.
 
I find this to be one of the hardest things in life to do. Keeping things simple while doing them right….
 
What do you do to keep things simple?

January 30th – You Don’t Have to Stay on Top of Everything

There is too much in our lives that simply do not hold any real value. TV, news, media, movies, books, toys, gadgets, brochures, mailers, coupons, subscription services, punch cards, rewards programs (with their little key ring barcodes)… apps and phones and games…
 
What the hell does any of all this really do for us anyway? I think it devours our time from what we really crave. connections with our friends and family. Instead of all these distractions we could have conversations with our kids about their day, nights together with friends, walks in the rain, more time to exercise…. and less excuse for not doing the things we know we really want to do.
 
I hear it all the time… “I don’t have time to go to the gym” and in the very next breath… “did you see the blah blah blah video on youtube?” or “I loved the latest show on (netflix/hulu/amazon) I binge watched the whole thing!”
 
How about my favorite… i just don’t have the money for…. as they stair into the void of their smart phone that costs $200-$300 a month.
 
Look, I’m not advocating for a spartan life style were we all hermit up in our caves. I am just talking about realistic moderation and controlling our impulse to justify massive level of consumption.
 
Controlling the urge to “have” everything will give you the freedom to enjoy the things you get.

January 31st – Philosophy As Medicine of the Soul

Having a life grounded in the study of philosophy is like taking a preventative medicine for the mind and spirit. It is like going to the gym everyday to get faster and stronger. It is like studying to be wiser and smarter. You need to take a daily dose for it to be the most effective.