by Jon Sullivan - 2022-09-06 - Jonism

<<<<< previous blog         next blog >>>>>

"Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems" - Epictetus

For me one of the interesting paradoxes with Capital S Stoicism is that we've defined lower s stoicism as an absence of emotion. As an avoidance of happiness. But exactly the opposite is true. Stoicism is purely a tool for being more happy. About living your best life. And in Stoicism the path to happiness is a simple equation - Focus on things you control, and then live and react with Virtue.

It might be argued that the main source of unhappiness is focusing on things we don't control. Desiring things we can't have. On trying to affect things we really can't. And the balance of things we control vs don't control is wildly weighted towards things we don't control. Trump destroyed American Democracy, that makes me mad. Someone cut me off in traffic and drives like an asshole, that makes me mad. Inflation has screwed up my financial situation, that makes me stressed. It's raining, that makes me depressed. None of those things are in my control, yet they still make me mad and depressed. They make me unhappy because I focus on the unhappy.

Stoicism is setting aside that anger and stress, and shifting focus to things we can change. The problems don't go away obviously, but they wouldn't go away anyway, because nothing I can do can fix Trump or the economy or assholes. So that anger is just there, doing nothing, not helping anyone, but still feeding on any problem to keep the unhappy growing. By focusing on things we can't control we feed unhappiness. We feed envy and resentment and jealousy.

Emotion is fine, and I'm not suggesting people try to prune it from their life. But use it to pick out the things you can control so you can focus on actions with a chance of making you happy. Envy over things you can never have pure unhappiness. Same with anger, sadness, loneliness. These are all real and legitimate. But if you let them drive your thoughts and actions you give them control of your life. Not everything is fixable. But you control what you fixate on. You control what you desire. You control how you react.

You have power over your mind and reactions, not events. When you narrow your focus you have a much better chance at being happy. Narrow your focus to build a life you don't want to escape from.

What you have actually control over is a narrow slice of all the things you can choose to devote your attention and energy to. If you set aside the things you can't control, can't fix, can't affect, things that have nothing to do with you, you end up focusing on the things that can make you happy.

"When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they cannot tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. [...] To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on them: these are obstructions." - Marcus Aurelius

<<<<< previous blog         next blog >>>>>
With Google To Leave a Comment:
<<<<< previous blog         next blog >>>>>
Eugene weather
53.96 degrees F, Clouds (overcast clouds)
Min: 53.11 ,Max: 55.38 ,Humidity: 93, Wind: 11.5
Eugene, OR - Best Restaurants
Eugene, OR - Things to do
Eugene, OR - Fish reports
Oregon road conditions
Recent Posts
- The grand tour
    The move to Oregon was supposed to include many regular road trips. It hasn't. But there was this one.
- Jon is an idiot
    For 4 minutes, out in the Nevada desert, there will be an eclipse in two days. Against odds, I hope to will be there.
- Jon is a failure
    When I look back over my 60 years, the things that I remember most are my failures. And what I worry about most for the future.
- Seasons
    One of the most confusing things in my life right now is seasons. I lived without them for 27 years. They are very inconvenient.
- Baseline
    Our two year journey to deconstruct and understand the concept of existential happiness is over. So what have we found?
- Jon is not crazy
    The crazy is gone. Now we tidy up after the mess two years of crazy has left behind. Or Not.
- New Jon vs
    I was caught off guard by the folks disappointed that I was moving on from "New Jon" posts.
Food I Cooked
Old School Blogroll
Home of fine hypertext products.
A community weblog.
A Chicken Is Not Pillage
You forgot his exclamation point! It defines him. He put it there for a reason, to show how in! your! face! he is.
abada abada - twenty years of jessamyn
Matt Haughey
A Whole Lotta Nothing
Heater, Mother Of Lance
Anil Dash
A blog about making culture. Since 1999.
Some Bits
Nelson's weblog
Everlasting Blort
proud member of the reality-based community
This machine mocks fascists
Scripting News
It's even worse than it appears.
Short attention spans in a world full of flowers
mimi smartypants
Seriously, though: what's with the penguins?
Montreal City Weblog
Stupid Evil Bastard
What the fuck is wrong with you people?
Idle Words
brevity is for the weak
Making Light
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.
50,000 Monkeys at 50,000 Typewriters Can't Be Wrong
Justin Hall
Growing & breaking down since 1994
Mike the Mad Biologist
Helping idiots who desperately need my assistance by calling them fucking morons since 2004
AKMA’s Random Thoughts
Ruminations about hermeneutics, theology, theory, politics, ecclesiastical life… and exercise.
things magazine
An occasional weblog about objects, collections and discoveries
Miscellaneous Heathen
Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.
where it's always Virgo Season
Recent Trips
Getting it ready for you.