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.
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.