I know something about you without knowing you. I bet you spend A LOT of time in your head.
You know, thinking, worrying, stressing, freaking out — call it whatever you want. I call it a preoccupied mind. And with what?
99% of your thoughts are useless. William James put it best:
“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”
All my life I’ve been obsessed with practical things. Practical philosophy, practical knowledge, practical books, practical work, and practical advice.
That idea comes from Pragmatism, a philosophical tradition that started in the 19th century in America. Charles Sanders Peirce, who was a Harvard professor, is considered as the “father of Pragmatism.” …
Mental toughness means you’re good at dealing with the demands of life. It means you can perform under pressure. I’ve been researching this topic extensively since the start of this year.
I found a 2019 study that looked into the relationship between different personality traits that determine our mental toughness. The authors studied professional athletes and found five personality traits that were predictive of success in sports.
While these findings are not very solid or applicable to daily life, I found their list of five personality traits highly useful. …
Do you ever get confused when you read articles or books? One person says you should do X, and the other person says you should avoid doing X. Instead, you should do Y! A lot of advice contradicts each other.
It’s no wonder a lot of my readers and people I work with are often confused when they read a lot. One reader recently emailed me this:
“I have searched on the internet but many articles contradict each other. …
One of my friends recently experienced sudden bouts of anxiety. Since he knew I’ve been there too, he asked me: “How do you deal with anxiety?”
That’s a good question. In the past, I looked for ways to “get over” or “beat” anxiety. I was looking for a cure.
After reading dozens of books and hundreds of articles on the subject, I’ve found the answer: Anxiety can’t be cured. It must be dealt with.
Dealing with anxiety is an ongoing battle for most of us. …
Socrates, considered as one of the founders of Western philosophy, was once named the wisest man on earth by the Oracle of Delphi. When Socrates heard that the oracle had made such a comment, he believed that the statement was wrong.
Socrates said: “I know one thing: that I know nothing.”
How can the smartest man on earth know nothing? I heard this paradoxical wisdom for the first time from my school teacher when I was 14 or 15. It made such an impact on me that I used Socrates’s quote as my learning strategy.
“I know nothing” to me, means that you might be an educated person, but still, you know nothing. You can learn from everything and everyone. …
How does one live well? It’s a question that our fellow human beings have been pondering for centuries. Out of that simple question, many philosophies and religions have been born.
But no philosophy does a better job at explaining the ideas for living well in a practical way than Stoicism.
The Emperor-Philosopher Marcus Aurelius, once the most powerful man on earth, was also a practitioner of Stoicism. Marcus wrote a collection of thoughts, ideas, and rules for life in what was later published as Meditation.
He wrote the things in that book for his own use. He was practicing the philosophy of Stoicism. I read that in The Inner Citadel by Pierre Hadot, a book that analyzes Meditations. In that book, I also read that Marcus had 3 rules for life that are found throughout Meditations. …
True freedom is to live as you are, to do what you want, and to spend time with people you like.
For many of us, true freedom is a distant dream. We’re tied down by obligations that we never wanted in the first place. So why do we still end up living a life we don’t want?
We live in deception because the truth is too painful. But no one wants to live in deception, as the stoic philosopher Epictetus once observed (quote is from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday):
“Who wishes to live in deception — tripped up, mistaken, undisciplined, complaining, in a rut? No one. These are base people who don’t live as they wish; and so, no base person is free.” …
There’s this idea in Eastern and Western philosophy that we must learn how to enjoy the present moment without getting distracted by the past or future.
Ever since the invention of words, the human race has been lost in thought. We are constantly thinking, stressing, worrying, and being preoccupied with a force that seems outside of our control.
That’s why many of us search for refuge in philosophies that promise us inner calm. Stoicism, Mindfulness, Zen — most of us use the teachings to escape our thoughts.
We keep on treating the symptoms by using meditation apps, reading comfortable books and articles, getting rid of our devices, and trying the next solution that promises peace from ourselves. …
If you believe that only stupid people make mistakes, you’re as wrong as I was. The truth is that everyone makes mistakes. Smart people admit that. Stupid people do not.
What’s more, the smartest and most successful people in history have made the most mistakes. Are those two things connected? I think so. This Albert Einstein quote says it all:
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
I used to blame myself for making mistakes in life. I think that’s how our society is. …
I don’t know about you, but I forget about 95% of the things I learn. No matter how much I read, journal, and process all the wisdom of life, I keep on forgetting the things that make life better.
At least, that’s what I assume. But that’s my own mind playing tricks on me. Even though it might seem like we forget, everything we read and practice has an impact on the way we live.
Ralph Waldo Emerson illustrated this point clearly when he said:
“I have forgotten the books I have read, and so I have the dinners I have eaten; but they both helped to make me.” …