Author Topic: Stoic and didn't know it.  (Read 2264 times)

Offline Moonbeam

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Stoic and didn't know it.
« on: April 30, 2010, 12:23:01 PM »
I read Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life" while traveling, which was a very good time to do it.  It wasn't as annoying as some trips are, but there is always something.

I really enjoyed the book.  There were some things in it that really seemed familiar to me, things that I already to to cope.  For example, in traffic, I pretend that the other cars are not driven by people, but just move at random, similar to inanimate objects in a stream of water for example--somewhat predictably, but you don't get angry if one seems to move too fast or in a strange way; you just try to avoid it.   I do need to find ways to apply the principles to people in more general situations than just traffic , however; that is the big area I could improve.

Also, appreciating what you have without wanting more all the time:  it's funny because of the cold shower thing here, but I always feel so lucky just to have hot running water.  The poorest of us lives better than royalty did just a few hundred years ago, and if we remember that, it helps to appreciate life.

I really liked how he applied evolutionary psychology.  I have thought about how evolution would not want us to be happy; of course it wouldn't--all that matters is that genes are spread, and it's better for our genes if we are always trying to acquire more and never settling for what we have.  I hadn't thought about how that would apply to anxiety as well, as he mentions, but it makes sense--the more worried you are, the more likely you are to avoid things, if you are living in an environment where constant vigilance keeps you alive.  Now, it's just detrimental to happiness.

I need to go back through it and write down a few key thoughts to think about every day.  Overall it was a very good book with a lot of ideas that I think would be beneficial to apply.

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Stoic and didn't know it.
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2010, 04:03:00 AM »
I thought of another way in which I've already been applying stoic principles--trying not to have regret for the past.  (Since the past can't be changed, it is in the stoic category being something not to concern ourselves with.)  Whenever I think about some regret I have for something that happened or something I did or didn't do, I try to remember that if I had taken a different path, no matter how much better it seems like it would have been when thinking about it now, I don't know how it would have turned out.  Only the exact things that have happened would have taken me to this point in life, which is relatively not bad.  If anything at all had been different, even things that seem like they would have been beneficial, there would have been unknown consequences which ultimately might have been bad; even just something like being somewhere different on a different day leading to an accident or something like that.

We don't know anything about what would have happened after the choices we didn't make, so we should never regret them.

Offline Danielle

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Re: Stoic and didn't know it.
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2010, 08:57:51 AM »
Moonbeam, I think you are right about this.  The way regret works is we focus on only how things might have gone better if we could just have a do-over.  But who is to say the replay would not have gone even worse because, as you say, we are always ignorant about the future.  I also think the Stoic view about not regretting things is very PRACTICAL, because you avoid wasting time and getting yourself down, and you put all your focus on moving forward.  So you energy is maximized for doing the right thing.  The key seems to be learning to let go of the regret QUICKLY, almost instantly so you can move forward with the minimum energy and angst.

Offline Jbird

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Re: Stoic and didn't know it.
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2010, 11:50:39 AM »
I totally agree with what you are saying about regret, Danielle and Moonbeam. It's something I rarely indulge in, and I think partly I'm just not wired that way and partly because I know it doesn't point to any alternate reality, as you're saying, but is a fantasy version of how things might have been.