2017 has been brutal. Everything and everyone wants your attention. It’s full of turmoil and polarization and ridiculous amounts of politics. Stress.
The two things that really kept me functional despite the changing times and personal obstacles are meditation and picking ideas from stoics. I say this as someone that works a great deal and has not holiday or weekend off this year till vacation this week.
Mediation has helped me to handle the ever increasing stress of work by taking some time out of the day to clear my head, step outside myself, and ask important questions such as “why?” and “does this really matter?” It is surprising how often the answer to the second question is “no”.
And the Stoics? Obstacle is the way got me hooked, so I picked up The Daily Stoic and it packs a punch, straight the gut. The kind that begs the question “where have you been all my life?”
The book is written in bite size chunks in a daily devotional format. I use the audio book format and generally take in a few chapters at a time.
The Stoics made many observations that are applicable to the times. I could imagine that one may think that it teaches to suppress emotions since calling someone stoic is akin to say they are without emotion, however, it’s more about how emotions and rationalizing the world really fits into your life and how your mind is the one thing that can not be stolen.
Despite the loss of influence of Christianity on the U.S., there is still a significant amount of moralizing in our culture and interwoven in politics, business, and everyday life. The Stoics tend to be less about moralizing, and more about making reasoned choices that align with one’s own morals and ethics.
Furthermore, it concentrates on the importance of the brevity of life, making reasoned choices instead of letting impulse rule you into failure, and always maintain control of one’s life. Obstacles and the fires that pop up are really just opportunities, it’s all in how you frame your mind to think about the world around you.
This shift in mindset opens doors and makes the ever increasing demands of the current world manageable. If you’re looking for something that will help you adapt and put 2017 into perspective, I recommend reading up on some of the writings of the stoics.