I’ve been dropping weight gradually, it was one of my big goals for 2022 and I’ve achieved it! So I don’t dine at night now, and I feel so good about it. But when I do, I’d rather have soup or a salad! It’s gentler food, and you go to sleep feeling balanced rather than feeling heavy and burdened.
So, this is part of why I’m entitling this post “Stoic Salad”, cause it’s a good post for your mental health, but also it’s a salad, a blend of ingredients: some classic stoicism will be the predominant flavor, but I’m adding some of my own discoveries, my treasures from introspection.
Ambition and Peace: Friends or foes?
I’ve seen a trend in Instagram and TikTok, maybe not a massive trend, but nevertheless one that I’m actually glad it’s occurring, a rediscovery of stoicism. I’ve heard very interesting podcasts and follow several accounts that regularly post quotes from Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and other philosophical luminaries. I believe it’s worth listening to them, as the relevancy of their reflections is ever-current.
I’m not going to even try to teach you philosophy, for I’m not a master in this area, but I feel comfortable telling you how it helps me. See, the word “stoic” is often used to describe a condition of apathy or numbness, but this is not what philosophical stoicism is. Stoicism is more about acceptance and being able to understand and control emotions, and here’s where I feel it becomes too relevant to our digital life nowadays: people often seem not to be able to control emotions! Digital marketers and news agencies know this and often post misleading, incendiary titles to posts and articles because they know that those are statistically going to drive the most engagement; and there’s a tension, a frustration that’s awaiting to be released against other unknown people, which also makes our interactions via Social Media a tremendous amplifier for propaganda and ideology: indeed a rather dangerous predicament at a society level.
Stoicism reminds us of our position in the world, the position of others and the often overlooked capacity we humans have of just letting things happen without taking a big emotional toll from them. You’ve probably heard the maxim “memento mori” or “remember death”; what does it mean? Well, no matter how optimistic you are, you know you will eventually die, it comes as no surprise to most, I hope. Now, how’s our acceptance or denial of this fact, and how do we allow it to impact our perception of life? Stoicism identifies that the state of denial regarding death, leaving it as a taboo subject that’s grim to think or talk about, to be cause of many lifes going to waste. For many people, they just allow years to go by with not a lot of progress, not a lot of meaning, not a lot of accomplishment and eventually, this will start causing despair. If we make it a daily habit to “remember death” we will always have in our consciousness a frame of reference for our actions and reactions that can really change things: how relevant is this? Is it worth my time? Is it worth my effort? In the long run, how worthy is this subject, this person, this offense, this conflict, this pain I’m going through? Is it worth this much attention, this much focus? Could it be dealt with in a way that takes me closer to peace, to serenity?
For me, remembering death means also, “stay humble” even in my greatness; for there’s a greatness in human industry and ingenuity, there’s something extremely beautiful about the capacity we have to create, to imagine, and to manifest abstraction into reality. But, as hard as it is to hear, both you who make an effort to be extraordinary and the mediocre person that keeps criticizing you and trying to pull you down out of envy, you’re going to end up facing the same final fate: death. So how relevant is it, is it worth any attention at all, is it worth your anger, your sadness, your hatred?
I’ll tell you what it means to me: every single second in this life is too precious to be wasted in petty things; every single smile, every single tear, every single moment of rest, of work, of gentleness, of conflict, of uncertainty is to be savored! It’s life in all it has to offer and it will end. Can I look back and smile when I see how plentiful my life was? How I chose to make the most out of each day? How I chose to feel and to react to what I can’t control? This is my desire once I’m holding death’s hand and transitioning, I want to experience death when the time comes without any dread or regret of not having experienced life properly.
Much love and blessings, friends.