More Stoic Dreams
This is the second week of my stoic project. My vision continues to evolve:
I look into the future with calm preparedness and wise judgment. I accept the present joyfully and aim to be worthy of love, respect and honor. My emotions, choices and rational faculties are aligned. I live as a full and honorable man.
This week I’ve been doing a lot of stoic contemplation of calamity and my goals, every morning either as I drive or with my eyes closed at home. I envision failing at gaining my desires and how I can act honorably regardless. I also have emphasized the “reserve clause” in my thinking about my longterm desires. My fears about the future and possible failures have drastically diminished after engaging in these exercises. The reserve clause especially helps with feelings of frustration, disappointment and envy when I look at other people’s “successes” that I desire.
Maybe because of this, I have been having a lot fewer “emotional flashbacks” of anger at perceived insults, disappointments or could-have-beens then I had the last week. I’ve been able to look back at previously painful memories and analyze them with greater rationality and fewer painful emotions.
The week began with some irritation with my lack of a stoic outlook on things, this had persisted from last week, but waned as the week progressed. Engaging in small pieces of self-denial, such as turning off my phone for an entire day, helped with this.
I initially felt confused on what to do next to help my development, but that turned into growing confidence as I engaged in trial and error and repetition of stoic techniques.
I have also spent quite a bit of time discussing stoicism with other members of the online community and my friends. I’ve found this helpful as way to clarify my thoughts of what practices to engage in and what attitudes to take.
I have also cultivated a better habit to deal with irritations in my life. As Epictetus recommends, when my tranquility is disturbed or my virtue is threatened, I contemplate taking this very moment as my last moment alive. For me, this brings great clarity of what is truly important. Through this, I have realized that it is my duty to love others unconditionally, and that fulfilling this duty fills me with great contentment. This is very different than the emphasis some people seem to put on “limiting attachments” or “thinking logically”, as different as fire is from ice.