It seems that I’ve taken a lot for granted in my life. My relationships, my family, my jobs, and even my children. This could be the source of countless problems I’ve encountered in my 20+ years of living “on my own” as an adult, and there is nothing that can be done about the past.
Maybe gratitude is an easy thing to provide, or perhaps an easy thing to feel. It costs nothing more than a couple minutes of your day to go through all you are grateful for.
The greatest trick is truly feeling grateful for all you have. I fear there are many cynics out there who will give lip service to gratitude, only to scoff at it on a deeper level. We all know these people. I for one am grateful for them. I am by experiencing what I am not. For when I am not, only then can I be who I am.
I started this post with the intention of providing a list of all I am grateful for. Now I don’t think I will. I will only say this. I am grateful for all the people in my life who lift me up through their own actions of love and understanding, who know the true meaning and purpose of love and friendship.
Nothing relieves you from the burdens of hard work. There should be nothing but hard work. Think back to a time when work was light, or when you held down a part-time job when you were younger. The work was easy, and the boredom was heavy. I like to call these types of days “Workday-Lite”, all the pay with a fraction of the work. During these times you would sit idle and chat, or perhaps log into the latest social feed. Perhaps you would play a game on your phone or online. Distraction has become the cure for workday-lite.
The problem with this workday-lite mentality is that there is never really a light workday. Just because the main objective of your work is lacking, whether there is a lack of projects or even a scarcity of customers, doesn’t mean it’s a day to slack off and take it easy. There are always things to do, machines to fix or clean, systems to optimize, procedures to run through. A light day is a perfect time to improve.
Even the lightest workday should leave you feeling like you’ve won a great battle.
Perhaps one of the most biting reminders I’ve set for my day is the reminder that They are watching. Who are They? The cloud of agents that surround my being and watch my every action. They consist of: My ancient Stoic mentors, modern day Stoics, and even members of my family held in high regard. Do I do myself justice through my actions? In any given action what would They say?
There was a recent episode in my life where I lost my emotional balance. Up to that point I had always tried to keep myself level. I would allow jabs at my character and my abilities to slide off or to deflect so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotional impact. That day I wasn’t successful.
From the emotional outburst, I took away one key reminder. I had allowed my practice of Stoicism to slip into the deepest recesses of my mind where it could no longer provide me with any balance. I had once again slipped into the sea of emotion that has caused me endless trouble in the past. I only wore the mask of the Stoic while ignoring the rising turmoil beneath.
I am not new to Stoicism. Having studied a number of entrepreneurs who espoused the benefits of Stoic practices I was naturally drawn to the philosophy. I must say, though, that my practice was and is somewhat fractured and runs in spurts. I’ve grabbed as many stoic manuals as I could find and didn’t really give much thought to the different angles of thought each author gives to the subject. At the end of each bout, I’d come away feeling superior to all others due to my Stoic practice, not realizing that I’d completely missed the point of all the information. From Epictetus and his manual and discourses to Marcus Aurelius and the Meditations, it was all up in my head floating around and being steadily forgotten. I’d practice mindfulness for a while until the flow of my day kept my mind busy on tasks. Thus each stint of Stoic research would ultimately end in a return to baseline behavior.
With that pathetic review of my past experiences with Stoicism out of the way I return to the title of this post. Why Stoicism? Despite my start and stop practice and my seeming inability to grasp the core ideas of Stoicism, it gives me peace. For the short time that I am able to live by the principles and attempt to better myself, I am at peace. It is harder to prod me into an emotional outburst, and I feel better able to handle the day-to-day flow of my life. The practice of mindfulness helps me see where I am being unreasonable and where I can improve. For a short time, I feel as though I am improving.
I’ve gotten used to loneliness, and I hate it. I can appreciate being alone, in fact, it helps me recover at the end of the day. However, often times I find myself staying late at work so that I don’t have to return to the loneliness of my apartment. Introverts don’t lack the feeling of loneliness, though I truly wish I could turn it off.
So I guess I’ll be looking to relieve my loneliness in 2019, which means going way outside my comfort zone and actually doing things. This is coming from a review of my 2018 and realizing that I’ve spent a lot of it alone, even when I was dating.
Circling back to the title of this post, the problem with my introversion is that while I want to be left alone and have a tendency to ignore people, I really hate the feeling of being lonely. I know I’m not the only one with this issue, so maybe I should head out to find others like me.
Would I be happier if I got rid of half my shit? Maybe, there is something to be said about living a simpler, less cluttered, life. But why only half? If I truly wanted a less cluttered life wouldn’t it be better to get rid of the bulk of my shit? Do I really need the weight bench that set me back $80? What about all of the training equipment that is just lying around? I also have a bike that I never ride and it’s getting all rusty sitting outside my apartment. Would I be happier if I had fewer possessions? Maybe I would.
There is something that has been bothering me, apart from the crush of my worldly possessions. It is my tendency towards inaction. I live a very active life in my head, and all of my reading gives me plenty of ideas to play around with and explore. Unfortunately it stops short of triggering any action. It seems to be a pattern for me, and I’d like to break it. Should be easy enough for a raging introvert, right?
Well, that was a well-deserved break. For those who have been following you probably noticed that I took the weekend off from publishing. One reason was not being prepared with articles ahead of time, so there’s some negative cred towards being a control freak. In other news, I haven’t forgotten about my post about whether the control freak exists, I’m just stepping back for a bit to get a better angle on the matter. That said, I’m altering the posting strategy for the site. For the bulk of the week I’ll be putting out smaller posts like this one with a couple ideas or musings, then aim for a larger post by the end of the week. I’ve felt like last week’s experiment with the control freak wasn’t as well thought out as I would have liked it to be.
For this week’s post I’ll try to answer a question that was posed to me last week by a friend of mine. What is the difference between self-control and discipline. I’ll delve into that throughout the week and have a larger post about it around Friday. Let’s see how that work.
I’ve been considering the route to take with this blog and I figure there will be weekly topics. I’ll delve into each topic as the week goes on and try to figure out different angles for looking at it. To start, now that you have some what of an idea on how I view control, I’ll be looking at the control freak. How do we view this seeming force of nature, and what are the aspects that make them both beneficial and highly destructive. Note that my idea of their being highly destructive is based on preconceived notions and stereotypes and may not be realistic, but of course we’ll get into that later in the week.
Are there certain features or questions you’d like answered about the control freak? If so feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to work them into the posts for the week.
Perhaps one of the more potent “ah-ha” moments I’ve had on my exploration of control was the need to be realistic. If you can’t step back from a situation and view it realistically then you’ve given up a portion of your control. You’ll continue to live in a fantasy of perception unable or outright unwilling to see how it really is.
Recently I reviewed my finances and realized I was paying $900 a year for a storage unit. When I got the unit I told myself that it was to clear out my apartment and enjoy a less cluttered space. Being more realistic I now see the unit as a way to avoid dealing with crap and collections from a past life and paying for the privilege of ignoring it. With that revelation I emptied my unit and have forced myself to go through everything. Being realistic has also helped me in deciding what goes and what stays.
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