January 26th : The Power of a Mantra
“Erase the false impressions from your mind by constantly saying to yourself, I have it in my soul to keep out any evil, desire or any kind of disturbance – instead, seeing the true nature of things, I will give them only their due. Always remember this power that nature gave you.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.29
I’m still thinking about this one. If the message is already internalized, then a daily reminder of what you can accomplish can certainly be helpful to keep you on your path. However, I do remember reading in The Antidote about an experiment which suggested that after a group of people kept reciting that they were happy, they ended up feeling less so. It seemed that it was more important to feel internally consistent, than to feel happy. On the other hand, I know people who actually have succeeded in improving their state of mind through rote repetition of positive messages.
Off the top of my head, I think environment plays a role in the success of the message. If you are surrounded by events that challenge your message too strongly, you might not be able to overcome through constant reciting. If the challenges are small, though, it might work to reinforce your message after you see yourself overcome the challenge.
The details of the message you give yourself is important too. An over-idealized message can render you blind to the truth (“Ignorance is bliss”). You want to strike a balance between realism (“Winning this set against the #3 seed will be difficult…”) and optimism (“…but I can totally do it.”)
January 27th : The Three Areas of Training
These are three distinct areas of training, but in practice they are inextricably intertwined. Our judgment affects what we desire, our desires affect how we act, just as our judgment determines how we act. But we can’t just expect this to happen. We must put real thought and energy into each area of our lives. If we do, we’ll find real clarity and success. – The Daily Stoic
As with everything, the Stoic mind is something that can, and should, be practiced.
Train your ability to recognize what are your desires, and your aversions.
Never miss an opportunity to act, but do not move carelessly.
Challenge your reasoning.
January 28th : Watching the Wise
“Take a good hard look at people’s ruling principle, especially of the wise, what they run away from and what they seek out.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.38
Taking the previous day’s teachings, and applying it here.
Know what you want, and find somebody who already has it. When you have the opportunity to reach out to this person, take it. Apply your judgement to everything they say (remember January 24th).
Mentors have quite literally affected every realm of my life. Most recently, the importance of mentors to creating good coaches has been reinforced strongly in me. As Dan would say, “when you suffocate knowledge, it dies”. I have rarely, if ever, met somebody at the top of their craft who isn’t interested in transmitting the lifetime of wisdom they’ve accumulated. Intangible as it is, it becomes their infinity project. So the lesson here is “Don’t be afraid to ask!”