Oh, hello, beautiful. I’m so glad you’re here.
Remember that post I wrote a couple months ago about sinking into fear?
Ya. Earlier in the year I went through an icy month. You know – those times of life when fear wraps its icy tentacles around your heart and refuses to let go.
Fortunately, I was able to stay clear headed enough to not sink into that quicksand of hopelessness.
Instead, I started taking action towards what I wanted my life to look like. And several insights revealed themselves which I’d like to share with you here.
The first thing is…
Develop a life philosophy.
We all have our beliefs. But I hadn’t considered the concept of having a life philosophy. I discovered the book – A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William. B. Irvine.
Ohhh my gosh. Life changed! I am one of those people who devours self-help, nonfiction, philosophy, spiritual, etc type of books, always with the hope – is THIS the one that will so drastically change my life that it’ll mark a turning point and all will hinge on this one book?
This was one of those books. From the first few words in the opening flap, I was having this internal dialogue:
“Yes! Oh, that’s so me. Oh my goodness. YES!! Oh, for sure – I DO want to get life right. Yes, I am afraid of getting it all wrong and mis-living. Oh, goody! What is the solution to mis-living? Yes!! How exciting!”
This book got me to thinking about the concept of creating your own life philosophy and it specifically discusses stoicism as a possible option for you. It’s definitely not for everybody, but it resonated with every cell in my body. YES and YES. I was in love. I was hooked. I was in hook, line AND sinker.
As fate would have it, my nephew then recommended I read The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. Cool. So I started that and was dumbfounded that it was based on… you guessed it… stoicism. Wha!!!
No way. YES, way.
This was ANOTHER life-changing, oh my GAWD how-have-I-lived-my-whole-life-without-this-book, kinda book. I have it downloaded onto my iPad and iPhone and refer back to my highlighted sections almost daily.
Please, please grab a copy if you get a chance. You can get them at my Amazon affiliate links above or at your local bookstore or where ever floats your boat.
The amount of PEACE, clarity, focus and honestly, just JOY that this new philosophy (new to me – but ancient) has provided – unspeakable.
Tim Ferris talks a lot about stoicism as well and adopts a lot of the aspects of it in his daily life.
Really, it has been huge.
And I’ve shifted up and out of that fear into a much more peaceful, calm and joyful state for most of the time. Not that life is perfect.
It’s full of grief, shock, disappointment, betrayal, loss and more. That’s all a part of the territory.
But we can look at those things not as the enemy – not as events or emotions to be ignored or hated – we don’t have to shake our fist at the sky and ask the universe – WHY MEEE???
No. We can look at them and find gratitude – for they are the fuel on the fire that will help us grow stronger and more refined and ultimately, more tranquil and joyful.
“The obstacle IS the way – it’s not stopping you – it’s leading you to exactly where you need to be.”
There are various aspects to the philosophy but one I found quite interesting is negative visualization.
I had been under the belief that you should ONLY dream about, plan for and believe in what you WANTED to happen. Forget everything else. Don’t give a second thought (or first thought) about losing what you have, or not getting what you want or God forbid, your own death. No, no no. Think happy, positive thoughts only!!!
I’ve since come to realize that is not only unrealistic, but truly not helpful in your growth.
You came here to grow and be the best version of yourself that you can be.
And sometimes – not much, but sometimes, it can be incredibly powerful to imagine losing that thing you love so much. Or… taking your greatest fear and mentally walking through what you’d do if it came to pass.
And even, contemplating your own death. I know that freaks some people out. But when you begin to occasionally throughout the day or in meditation, contemplate these things… you will find an overwhelming appreciation begin to well up in you for all you DO have.
What if you lost your house? What if tomorrow, it was just… gone? OH my goodness. Look at this old fridge. How amazing! It might be 10 years old, but it KEEPS MY FOOD COLD. What miracle is this? And my coffee maker! It produces such a rich, bitter brew that I love!
Listen to my creaking floors that support my weight as I mindlessly walk on them everyday. What a fun sound!
I have indoor plumbing. Something even KINGS of ancient times didn’t have. Woooowwwwww.
And look at this person in my life that I love – what if tomorrow they were gone? It could happen. Deep breath – you’ll find them suddenly so fascinating. Look how they move their hands when they talk. It’s so funny! And how they laugh! I love it! Even when they get frustrated – what a treasure just to know them. How thrilling that they want to be in my presence right now.
And life becomes infinitely more precious when you know it will end someday. Oh my gosh….. the sound of a cricket outside your window will suddenly be the most miraculous thing. Cars on the road! Who cares if someone cuts you off! They probably had a stressful day at work with other stressed out people and they just wanna get home, kick their shoes off, eat some lasagna and watch Game of Thrones.
Every little experience magnifies in wonder, beauty and sheer amazingness. We are here on this blue planet spinning around in the middle of who knows where, for a brief time. OH wow…. Woowww.
We are reallllly fortunate.
I highly recommend you grab those books if they appeal to you or that you start to cultivate your own life philosophy. Something that guides you each day. A foundation that you can refer to again and again.
You go out and SOAK UP this day. SOAK. IT. UP. You will never have it again. There will never be another YOU, experiencing THIS DAY. How incredible is that? How fascinating are YOU!?
P.S. Take a moment real quick and look around. Listen. Right now, wherever you are. Notice something you’ve never seen/heard/felt before. The texture of the table you’re sitting at? The ambience of traffic outside your door? The way the sky is a gradient? Find something and let me know below. I can’t wait to read about it.