Daily Journey – March 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

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March 1st – Where Philosophy Begins

This one is pretty simple.

The road to gaining self control starts at a desire for change.

Having a felt need for change, then leads to taking actions to actually identify and change the things in your life that are contributing to your malcontent, discomfort, and unhappiness.

Do you want to change? What are you you going to do about it?

March 2nd – Actual Self-Assessment

We need to take a regular inventory of who we are, what we are doing, and why we are doing it.

Taking the time to assess ourselves, with some blunt honesty, helps us understand what we need to adjust in our lives to meet our goals and objectives.

March 3rd – (dis)Integration

I have to be a lot of things. Husband, Father, Provider, Leader, writer, teacher, good guy… and sometimes the bad guy.

Sometimes we may find the things we must be are conflict with the things we want to be. I want to be an artist, a gamer, consumer…. At times our duty will necesitate us putting aside the things we want in order to fulfill one of our vital roles.

To do this right we must be aware of the competition between opposing forces and separate our selfish wants from our commitments. Gaining this self awareness will help us control the conflict and perform the tasks and responsibilities required of us.

March 4th – Awareness Is Freedom

Time is a finite resource… how aware are you of the the amount of time you let slip away from you and then, looking back over your shoulder, feel distraught because you aren’t doing the things you want.

You can start to be free if you become aware of the time you are wasting on things that don’t matter.

You can start to be free if you become aware of the money you waste on things that don’t matter.

You can start to be free if you become aware of the emotions you are through into things that don’t matter.

Be aware of where your resources are being spent, take control, and be free.

March 5th – Cutting Back on the Costly

Can we actually calculate the cost of all the things in our lives? How big of a space do we actually need to live in… how much of that spaces is simply dedicated to storing the stuff we have accumulated?

Are you aware of the cost the “things” in your life is having on your physically, mentally, emotionally… let alone financially.

Take an inventory. I’m sure you will be surprised.

March 6th – Don’t Tell Yourself Stories

We love to tell stories about our past adventures. But we need to be aware of how the passage of time and the accumulation of other experiences can change our perception of the events.
 
Just think for a minute about the glory days… if you dig deep and are completely honest with yourself there were probably some less than ideal times that went along with the events we hold in high regard.
 
If we aren’t careful these stories can turn into a highlight reel that unintentionally outshines everything else that happened and is happening in our lives. We can lose ourselves dreaming of the past and wishing to repeat past success and miss the opportunities that are right in front of us.

March 8th – Don’t Unintentionally Hand Over Your Freedom

We take our physical safety and freedom very seriously. We guard our homes, wear helmets, enact laws and systems to regulate dangerous activities like driving and flying… The world is a complex place these days and a lot of the complexity is there to keep people physically safe.
 
So what do we do to protect our minds?
 
Our thoughts are not nearly as protected as from harm as the bodies are. There is a constant war for our thoughts. We are bombarded by social media, phones, computers, TV and radio, magazines, news agencies and even researchers and authors. All of whom are at war for your mental attention, for one simple fact… your attention can be turned into money.
 
The ability to guard your attention is such a rare commodity today that is praised in performance reports and in feedbacks. We love it when some was “Laser Focus” and Sharp attention to detail.” We love it so much because these are the people who can get things done.
 
Learning to guard your attention, just like many other things requires an awareness of when and where your attention wanders. You have to be in control of this. YOu have to know what is highly likely to pull your attention and focus away from the tasks you are responsible for.
 
Having this awareness will allow you to take intentional action to guard your attention from distraction. You set up the metaphorical armor plating around your mind that will protect you from distraction.
 
What distracts you? What do you fight with for control of your attention?

March 9th – Find the Right Scene

We are all subject to be influenced to some degree by our surroundings. This is especially true of the people we surround ourselves with.
 
We need to guard ourselves against being overly influenced by negative, doubting, haters. You can do this by simply choosing not to allow them into your closest circles.
 
Notice I didn’t say by shunning them or avoiding them. You also may have something to learn from these influences.
 
The key is to be aware of who and what you are dealing with and act accordingly.

March 10th – Find Yourself a Cato

Cato was a philosopher that opposed Julius Caesar. Not violently but in passionate public debates.
 
The theory is that in Cato’s opposition Caesar found a way to exercise his own thoughts and strengthen them. Cato sought out Caesar’s weaknesses and flaws and presented himself as the furnace and anvil Caesar needed to refine his actions, thoughts, decisions, and behaviors.
 
We also need this form of opposition in our own lives so we can be more aware of the flaws in our thoughts and actions. We should seek it out and let it help us refine our actions, thoughts, decisions, and behaviors.
 
If we surround ourselves with people who always tell us we are right, and how good we are at everything (regardless of how poorly we are actually doing) then we atrophy and wither away. We risk not knowing when we are about to make a bad decision or worse thinking a bad decision is the best decision.
 
Like our bodies, our minds can thrive under the right forms of resistance. We can build metal strength and with that strength develop better plans and take more precise steps to achieve our goals and objectives.
 
Who is your refining furnace? Who is there to help you see the flaws and errors in your thinking and provide you the honest resistance you need to grow mentally?

March 11th – Living Without Restrictions

Are you aware of what limits your actions, decision, and behaviors?

We have systems of laws, ethics, and honor which are good frameworks established for restricting us… but there are also some dangerous and maniacal ones.

Things like self doubt, maniputaion by others, illegal discrimination, hate, and bigotry…

If you are restricted by any of these negative influences you have an obligation to fix it. Being aware is the first step.

March 12th – Seeing Things As the Person at Fault Does

It is easy to let someone’s action offend you or upset you. But if you take a moment to try and see things from their perspective maybe they aren’t trying to hurt your feelings, offend you, upset you, drive you insane, pick a fight, bully you, or be ruthless, mean double dealing, or conniving.

Maybe they are just wrong. Maybe they think they are doing the right thing. Maybe you are wrong.

I get it, it is generally our first reaction to take offense, but that doesn’t mean it is the best reaction or the right reaction.

Today I challenge you to pause before you react. Look for true honest intent and respond with tempered and controlled emotions.

March 13th – One Day It Will All Make Sense

 
When I was younger I had a hard time seeing the value in struggle. I felt like the goal was to not have to work so hard… but over time I found that the more I put into things the more challenging they became.
 
With this increase in challenge came greater reward. The work gets harder, but you also get better at it over time and the external and intrinsic rewards for a hard job done well grow with the challenge you face.
 
A simple example of this is lifting heavy weights routinely. As you lift the weight routinely over time it gets easier, so you can lift more. The strength, discipline, and grit you build from putting in the hard work makes not only lifting the weight easier but other things start get better as well. Before you know you are doing things that you used to think were outside of your comfort zone, or even beyond your capability.
 
All because you were doing the hard work all the time.

March 14th – Self Deception Is Our Enemy

Deception is an interesting thing. You can be subjected to its influence from both internal and external sources. But really, if you are deceived it is your fault for not being aware of the information flowing around you to, to you, and through you.
 
Once you are aware of these things you can apply skepticism, rational emotional response, and above all critical thinking to the information in your life. This will allow you to better weed out the deception that wants to control and manipulate you.

March 15th – The present Is All We Possess

The past flavors the present.

The future compels us onward from the present.

The present is were we always are.

March 16th – That Sacred Part of You

The ability to think is an amazing gift. Because of this ability we can do so much. We can be creative. We can use logic and reason to solve complex problems. We can dream and challenge ourselves. We can share knowledge, information and new discoveries.
 
Use this gift.

March 17th – The Beauty of Choice

Choices can lead to beautiful or ugly results. If you want to have a beautiful life, then you need to make high quality choices.
 
It really is as simple as that.
 
If you want to be smarter, make the choice to learn more.
 
If you want to be healthier, make the choice to eat right and exercise.
 
If you want to happier, then make the choice to do the things that you know will make you happier.
 
I know these things aren’t easy, and they will not always have immediate results…. but you WILL NOT be happy if you are making ugly choices that break you down.
 
You wont be happy about your health if you don’t eat right, and don’t exercise.
 
You wont ever get any smarter if you don’t put in the effort to learn more.
 
You wont be happier if you never act on doing the the things that make you happy.

March 18th – Impossible Without Your Consent

The stoics taught that outside sources couldn’t really have an effect on you without your permission or consent.
 
For example, your kids don’t make you angry… you get angry at your kids. It is your choice to be angry. You have consented to being angry at the kids they did not force you to be angry.
 
This line of reasoning applies to many of the situations we find ourselves in. In my experience it really comes down to realizing that you can take control of your internal processes, feelings, and emotions.
 
Being able to handle your emotional responses in this way is a powerful skill and it is absolutely one that can be learned, practiced, and developed.

March 19th – Timeless Wisdom

Isn’t it remarkable how the same wisdom can be found in many different philosophies, religions, or schools of thought.
 
One that seems to be prevalent across many systems of belief, both formal and informal, is that you are ultimately responsible for your own actions, decisions, and behaviors.
 
To me this includes your decisions on how you react to the things happening around you in the world. I believe you can develop the ability maintain control of your emotional responses.
 
Being aware that you have the ability to develop this as a skill empowers you to take control back from all the coercive and manipulative elements in the world around you.

March 20th – Ready and At Home

When adversity knocks on your door will it find you prepared, Will you be ready to embrace the challenge, standing where you ought to be in order to serve those you are entrusted with protecting?
 
Tough times are always on the horizon. But this shouldn’t break our morale or drive us to live in fear. Knowing the future holds obstacles means we can take the opportunity now to prepare.
 
Working on the skills you will need to be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for the adversity that is sure to come in your life must be a daily objective.
 
More importantly you have to be “at home”… you need to be ready to stand firm in the place you are called to serve. You have to be ready to carry the load for those who depend on you.

March 21st – The Best Retreat Is In Here, Not Out There

I have a tendency to always be looking forward to the next thing. The next chance to take time off, the next weekend, or that far off goal of a big vacation.
 
While there are a lot of positives associated with having things to look forward to, on the near and far horizon, I also need to be aware of the negatives that can tag along.
 
I have a propensity to let my potential for happiness get overshadowed by my desire for the next moment. If I obsess to long over what the future can hold for me I risk loosing the opportunity to enjoy what I have right now.
 
There is a lot of truth in the saying that happiness is found when you plan for the future, but live in the moment.

March 22nd – The Sign of True Education

Learning has not occurred until you prove that you can put the lessons learned into action. On top of that, the action you take should generally lead you to the results you intended to get.
 
If you can’t show positive results in your life, then no amount of fluff hanging on your walls (degree’s, certificates etc..) will ever help you be successful.
 
The results you get are the true sign that your education has stuck, and is paying off.

March 23rd – The Straitjacketed Soul

There are often vices in our lives that hold us back from attaining the things we want. We can indulge in these vices and feel like everything is okay, and maybe it is, but only in the short term.
 
When we succumb to our vices we are willingly restraining ourselves from the future we want in order to live present indulgence. We can never really measure the true impact this has on our lives but we can make some assumptions.
 
When we sleep in and skip the gym our health deteriorates quicker then we want.
 
When we spend money blindly without regard for our financial goals we become more subservient to our jobs.
 
When we eat what ever we want, when ever we want we get fat and weaken our psychical capability.
 
When we indulge in the whims and whimsy of our emotions we loose emotional control and our relationships suffer.
 
Look at your vices and do an honest assessment of what they are costing you. Then start taking action to remove those vices from your life.

March 24th – There is Philosophy in Everything

what good is all this study and self reflection if we don’t take the opportunity to live out our lives, face the challenges that will spring up, and test our skills.
 
Take the time to study and learn all you can but do not hold back from engaging in life. Get out there let things get complicated and messy… and in that chaos you will find the true meaning of these philosophies.

March 25th – Wealth and Freedom are Free

So this is simply a matter of controlling your perspective.
 
If you can be happy in the moment, with what you have, aren’t you truly wealthy. Aren’t you free?
 
I get it this is a little voodoo and woo woo, but seriously if you aren’t happy with the 55 inch TV will the 60 inch really help? If you aren’t happy working hard at your current job… are you really going to be happy working hard at your “dream job”

March 26th – What Rules Your Ruling Reason?

Our ability to think and reason is constantly under assault from those who would love nothing more then for us to simply follow along the current of the world.
 
These influences seek access to our thought processes. They want to control our mental calculus and influences us to live they way that is to their best advantage. Is it a stretch to believe that their best interest might not be ours? For example… Is it really in our best interest that fast food even exist? Something to think about.
 
The good news is that we can exercise control over what we allow to influence our ruling reason. We can recognize and devalue input from corrupt and disruptive influences.
 
It’s true that today the signal never stops. But that doesn’t mean we need to turn on the receiver.
 
Try cutting out the inputs you know are bad for you. The things you know deep down are leading you off of your true course.

March 27th – Pay What Things Are Worth

I don’t want to draw this one out. You know what things hold value, and you know what you should pay for them (both in real money and in time and energy).

If it is a waste of your money, time, or energy what on earth are you doing investing in it?

If it is worth it.. then pay what it is worth. If it is worthless.. then move on.

March 28th – Cowardice is a Design Problem

I think there is some truth in the assertion that cowardice can be a result of not having a plan.
 
When you haven’t thought something through it is harder to act. You are more prone to indecision gridlock, hesitation, and retreat.
 
One step we can take to avoid this is to be deliberate and intentional in developing our life through planning.
 
Now, I’m not naive enough to think that having a plan is the solution to all problems. But I do know it is the best place to start.
 
Let’s get started. Make a plan, then get started!

March 29th – Why Do You Need To Impress These People Again?

We shouldn’t be changing ourselves, or worse struggling to change things outside of our sphere of influence just to impress others.
 
Self improvement, growing physically, mentally, and emotionally is for the self. It should be done to impress one person. You.

March 30th – Reason In All Things

We should be striving to turn to reason in all of our actions.
 
Even when time may be short, we can be better prepared by reasoning through possible “what if” scenarios and training for a crisis before it happens.
 
Sure, there is probably a situation that will catch us off guard… but we don’t have to gamble on that. We can be ready for what the world throws at us if we are pushing ourselves now.