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Stoic Wisdom For Mental Toughness

Stoic Wisdom For Mental Toughness

The ancient Stoics aimed to be resilient towards
the things beyond their control and were determined on their path of virtue. Mental toughness is necessary to be truly
‘good’ in the Stoic sense. We need to be strong enough to control destructive
desires, to choose virtuous activities over vulgarity and to anchor ourselves in the present
moment. Mental toughness can help us to live better
lives, achieve our goals and navigate through life when we’re in dire straits. In this video, I’ll share what ancient Stoic
texts can teach us on how to be stronger between the ears. (1) You’re more powerful than a god (when
it comes to your own faculty). Seneca and Socrates died in a similar fashion. Both were sentenced to death and, in both
cases, the execution or ‘forced suicide’ included the consumption of poison. But the most striking shared characteristic
was the equanimity in which they left the world. Death is just another phenomenon that isn’t
up to us since nature creates and takes life at will. The same goes for losing the people we’re
attached to, things we might be offended by, and injustice that may befall us. In the end, it’s nature that decides the
workings of the external world. Not us. For many people, this realization could evoke
a sense of powerlessness. For a part, this is just. The good news, however, is that the greatest
strength of all is within our control, which is the power over our own faculty. This power is the essence of mental toughness
and also a muscle that can be trained. Complete power over our own actions, as far
as that power stretches in a certain moment, makes our will untouchable, even by the gods. People can inflict damage onto us, humiliate
us. But still, we do maintain the power over our
reasoning and the actions that come from that. In his discourses, Epictetus pointed out that
people can influence his life only to a certain extent: the realm that’s outside of him. I quote: I must die: must I, then, die groaning too? I must be fettered: and wailing too? I must go into exile: does anyone, then, keep
me from going with a smile and cheerful and serene? “Tell your secrets.” I say not a word; for this is under my control. “But I will fetter you.” What is that you say, man? Fetter me? My leg you will fetter, but my moral purpose
not even Zeus himself has power to overcome. End quote. Side note: shortly I’ll publish a book that
I’ve written about becoming resilient to what other people say – from insults to mere
opinions we don’t agree with – using philosophical ideas. I’ll keep you updated. (2) Laziness and procrastination are unnatural. As human beings, we’ve never been so comfortable. But too much comfort can lead to stagnation
and even the deterioration of the human spirit, as observed by Marcus Aurelius, once emperor
of the world’s most powerful empire. Now, the following may not be for everyone
since it’s heavily based on Stoic beliefs about nature. I’ve made a separate video about this if
you’re interested. The Stoics aim for living in accordance with
nature. And our human nature has set limits (that
vary per person) to how much sleep we need, how much food we need, how much movement we
need, et cetera, in order to function properly. Most people that spend days on the couch watching
Netflix with a bucket of icecream do this, probably, because it feels nice and comfy. But according to Marcus Aurelius, this is
not the natural way of living for a human being and, therefore, it’s wrong. I quote: So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the
ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order,
as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as
a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature
demands? End quote. According to the Stoics, you don’t love
yourself enough if you’re lazy, because if you did, you’d love your nature too. And it’s your nature, they believe – this
flame within, that shouts at you to make something out of your life in a virtuous manner. An antidote for laziness is the cultivation
of courage; a Stoic type of virtue that can be subdivided into endurance, confidence,
high-mindedness, cheerfulness, and industriousness. These states are part of the eudaimonic experience,
that can be loosely translated as ‘flourishing’ or, the Stoic concept of happiness. So, considering that laziness and procrastination
are unnatural and that we’re born to play a part in the whole, or to be concerned with
“putting the world in order” as Marcus states, can be a huge mental boost. Simply put: we do feel our best when we flourish. We do not feel our best when we’re lazy
and stagnant. (3) Contentment breeds mental stability. Surely, the mind is very unstable when it
depends on external things to fulfill its desires and to stay away from what it averses. That’s why Stoic sages don’t want anything
from the world but merely use what they encounter on their path, granted by Fortune. Foolish people, on the other hand, are in
a constant state of wanting, while being oblivious for what they truly need. So, what do we truly need to be happy? Not much, as far as the Stoics are concerned. Because when the mind is content with its
own self and knows that the pursuit of externals is not a way to happiness, it can truly be
free. As Seneca puts it: For anything that can be added to is imperfect;
anything that can suffer loss is not lasting; but let the man whose happiness is to be lasting,
rejoice in what is truly his own. End quote. In this completeness, and state of ‘not
needing’ anything more, lies great strength. From the perspective of our modern times,
it’s the strength of not being encumbered with social expectations and peer pressure
in regards to consumerism. It will also make one resilient towards the
ups and downs of life on the rollercoaster of constantly changing circumstances, equipped
with a healthy detachment. Thus, so-called ‘indifferents’ (preferred
or dispreferred) come and go, and will neither add nor subtract to the sage’s state of
contentment. The concept of mental toughness in Stoicism
may be slightly different from what we hear and see in today’s popular culture, which
is highly geared towards external achievement. However, the sharp focus on our own actions,
the consideration of our nature and a healthy detachment from externals, might help us live
life more fully nonetheless. Thank you for watching.

51 comments on “Stoic Wisdom For Mental Toughness

  1. Stoicsim seems like a really really hige topic. I'm really unpatience and lazy. Can somebody link me or write me how to be more stoic or what you should do daily to train that skill

  2. How to correctly determine whether something is or isn't within your control??? A competent individual can control a hierarchy even when he's at the bottom. Listen:

    Fix your mental health problems. Take a personality disorder test. Learn about your disorders on Wiki. And then do the opposite of what you'd normally do in your thoughts and actions. Fake it 'till you make it for a year.

    If it still feels unnatural, then you can BS yourself to get through the day all you want.

  3. The reason why these teaching resonate is because we all go through them.
    Looking back at past experiences, with more enlightened lenses, helps to form a healthy attitude.
    Theory and practice intertwined.

  4. everything was going well in my stoic walk till my wife of 27 years left me 3 weeks ago…as hard as i think of her as just a human, i am still crumbling daily.

  5. Discipline truly opens a doorway to another realm of happiness and possibility. It’s like this veil over reality becomes lifted when we stay disciplined

  6. Thank you man. Your videos helped me improving my life , overcome procrastination and learning English better.
    These videos are well explained and I can learn some new words.

  7. as a 24 year old who has graduated with a bachelors and masters. I have learned more from the simplicity of stoicism. My life turned upside down not too long ago and i thank goodness for finding this.

  8. Thanks a lot Einzelgänger.

    Edit: Dear Einzelgänger, do u have ideas on breath techniques? Against irrational thoughts? Please. I beg you. Thanks.

  9. Since discovering this channel, my whole mindset changed as if i'm someone all new all different. I am greatfull for that.

  10. I have to disagree with one sentence.

    For me, procrastinating and being lazy don't feel "nice" at all. I feel guilty and ashamed in front of myself and generally terrible when I procrastinate.
    If being lazy wasn't a problem for me – I wouldn't try to stop being lazy. Stoic philosophy doesn't tell us what EXACTLY should we do with our time, it just teaches us how to spend the time so we are in agreement with our inner voice, feelings, desires and so we are happy in the end of a day.

  11. Resonates a lot with ancient indian philosophy of "bhagwad geeta", the book which also gave the concept of "karma" to the world

  12. I absolutely love your channel and you have changed my life in so many ways. I am grateful you exist and look forward to every video.

  13. It initially felt powerless to me as I struggled for about a year and then it's my comfort. A reminder to live happy now and not worry or relentlessly try to control everything around me.

  14. The Four Agreements is based upon Toltec wisdom which is a recurring theme throughout ancient civilizations. They were all onto something great

  15. I seem to be one of many that are being effected so positive by these stoic lessons, thank you for these teachings at the tip of our fingers

  16. I don't know how on Earth I discovered your channel, but I subscribe without any further questions… I simply like it: your word-spelling (pronunciation) is pretty clear, your contenents are always trustable and helpful.

    I hope you'll continue in this way, because it's just great.

    P.S. (I'm Italian, that's why I mentioned your spelling 🙂 )

  17. Everyone in the comments, we all come here for different reasons, but all of our journeys are as important as eachothers, lets all go down the path together and rejoice at the end together. <3

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