Emails from a modern Stoic – Leter 2

First, have what is essential, and second, have what is enough - Seneca
First, have what is essential, and second, have what is enough - Seneca

JUDGING from what you tell me, what I read on Facebook, LinkedIn and from what I hear, I feel that you show great promise. You haven’t moved around much at all. Lots of moving around is symptomatic of mental health issues, not that I can site a peer reviewed study to back that up, it’s just an opinion.

Based on the way I think, an indicator of a well ordered mind is a persons ability to stop just where they are and pass some time in their own company.  

The internet has made this hard. I would like to say, make sure you don’t jump around from one thing to the other,  don’t consume information without a plan or purpose, in regards to the blogs you have mentioned and the influencers you are following. 

Following, liking and listening to so many different things of every description. You should be extending your stay among authors whose genius is unquestionable, backed by research and evidence. Taking joy and lessens from them if you wish to gain anything from what you consume, that will result in useful thoughts.

To be shallow across everything is to be nowhere. People who spend their whole life travelling abroad end up having plenty of places where they can find hospitality but no real friendships.  

The same can be said for people who never set about acquiring a deep understanding of a topic, but skip from one to another, taking shallow visits to them all. 

Food that is vomited up as soon as it is eaten is not assimilated into the body and does not do one any good; nothing hinders a cure so much as frequent changes of treatment; a wound will not heal if you continuously pick the scab; a plant which is frequently moved never grows strong. 

Nothing is so useful that it can be of any service by simply reading the headlines or scrolling past it. A multitude of blogs, social platforms and news sites ultimately get in your way. So if you are unable to read all the articles you have liked, bookmarks you have saved, tabs you have open in your browser, let alone all the books in your book shelf. Consider, you already have enough, just with the physical books you have kept over the years.

I get it, you might say “but I feel like going to YouTube, then TikTok, then Twitter, then Facebook”. Opening different platforms, for different content at different times. My retort will be: tasting one dish after another is the sign of a fussy stomach, and where the foods are dissimilar and diverse in range they lead to contamination of the system, not nutrition. So always read well-tried authors and content, and if at any moment you find yourself wanting a change from a particular piece of information, go back to what you have read before. 

It could also be worth while setting the why for what you read. Aim to consume a post, blog or podcast each day that will help you to face the the challenging world we live in. What would it mean to have such strong mental health that if you faced loosing your job, being on Government benefits or be faced with death because you caught Covid-19 or other sicknesses. Think about it when you wake up, what would give you the most fortitude to face the day, pick the topic to be consumed thoroughly that day. I do this. I think about all my current obsessions, all the things I am trying to learn and out of all the stuff I have been consuming, I pick one theme, idea or topic. That becomes the central focus for my day. Be it something to read or a technique to apply. 

My thought for today I found in Tony Robbin’s (yes, I actually read multiple gurus content (but all in the context of personal development) – by way of observation on what others are saying, not to shift away from the way I think things should be done!). 

He suggests “starting the day with gratitude”. He says it’s the best way to start the day. This is not so far of the NLP idea where we focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Or how a Stoic might say it “It is not the man who has too little who is poor, but the one who hankers after more”. 

What difference does it make, how much you have in your bank account, the size of your deck or how many followers you have, your annual salary, the car you have, the title you hold at work, if what you are after is some one else’s goal, some content produces perception of what makes you successful. Especially if you are focused on what you have yet to get, instead of what you have already.

You just have to got on Instagram to see a meme about what ‘success’ or ‘wealth’ is (to others). When in reality, wealth and success can easily be described and then attained, all in a way that won’t leave you wanting more. All it takes are two steps:  “First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.”

*My purpose is to connect with people so that, together, we can learn, be better and succeed. It is with that in mind that I have begun the process of re-writing ‘Letters from a Stoic’ by Seneca. But re-writing them as if I was the one emailing a friend. 

I hope that this triggers your curiosity about Stoicism, personal development and cultivating fortitude in your life.

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