What was born as a text for my meditations, has become a personal test on what it means to practice modern stoicism, and to have a stoic mindset nowadays. Not from the words, but the facts. Philosophy of action, not of words, this is the first of the stoic learnings I am living in my flesh. As time goes by, I’ve realised that I do not care if I have success or failure. Both things are arbitrary.
2018 was the best financial year of my professional career, 2019 has been perhaps the worst since I had a euro in the bank in 2010. None of that surprises or worries me, because 2018 and 2019, or 2010, have been what they should be. I am not better, nor am I worse in any of the cases. And I can only be me.
I have lost two of the most influential people in my life, Gilberto and my grandfather Tomás, but I have gained such incredible people as Josef, Oscar, Valentino, Enrico, Aitor, Roberto, Eric, Natasja, Andreina, my family and countless more people, in addition to the people I have got to know since I was born in Alcoy…
The exciting thing is that I do not consider that I have won or lost. It is just what has appeared on the road, every obstacle, every person, every relationship, every interaction, every adversity, has become the path itself.
Leave “good” or “bad” to one side – modern stoicism
Every day, I repeat, every day, we win and lose, although it seems that we do not stop being defeated, or at least that is what we think, but the reality is that we do not win or lose, we only advance in this finite passage called life. Although, if we scrutinise it and rely on living, (and being somewhat optimistic), we could say that we are “splitting it” every day, just by simply opening our eyes. Misfortune and irony at the same time.
Every time people ask me how I am, I always answer “great”, sometimes “good”. Because whatever happens, I feel that everything is the way it should be. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be happening that way. Today someone asked me, “How are you?” And I answered “stoically well, my grandfather has just died, I’ve done my back in, I lost three great clients, and a few days ago someone broke into my house” The exciting thing (for me), is that as I spoke, I only felt serenity and calm. There was no anger, no guilt, no frustration.
Do what you have to do: dance and do good
I was on the beach when I wrote this, working, without being better than being in an office or factory (I’ve been in both places), I’m just here doing what I’ve come to do. My job. Trying to change the things that matter, that also the main job of a stoic.
I know that everything can and will happen. We will lose our loved ones. We will go bankrupt, we will be fired, we will live our best life, we will meet the person of our dreams, we will fall in love, we will have our heartbroken, we will have more or less , we will be more accessible or less, have more fortune or perhaps less, life will be more unfair to us or less. Even at a given time, everything will be reduced to ashes; we may leave a legacy or not. We will pass diseases or others will pass them on; we will endure wars or peace.
All that and more will happen, yes. However, until our soul is taken away, each of our principles (hopefully you have them), self-awareness (if you worried about developing it), self-discipline (if you promised to work it every day). Also initiative (if nobody has done it for you), the righteousness of spirit and this unstoppable mentality and attitude that any human being can achieve, until that moment nothing can prevent us from having to control over what matters, ourselves.
Until that moment every one of us should keep iterating, fighting and smiling as if it were the best moment of our lives, or the worst as if life was leaving because, in reality, it is.
Remember this every time you find yourself in misfortune. Practice modern stoicism.
This is one of the most relevant stoic lessons I have learned. A few exciting and provocative months where a lot of everything has happened, the text above could be an excellent example of some of the experiences. I had long wanted to write a little bit about modern stoicism, but I couldn’t find the moment, the inspiration, or the purpose. Now I have all three, thanks to the fact that circumstances have allowed me to test my stoic mentality. If you look, this in itself is already one of those lessons.
Things to bear in mind when you want to be a modern stoic
The main benefits of modern stoicism:
Accepting fortune as it comes.
Keep learning from the old stoics.
Death and life are the same.
Learn the difference between uncontrollable and controllable things.
It’s inevitable because it has happened.
If it’s the worst, it will be the best.
Stoicism and Buddhism, hand in hand every day.
Modern Stoicism, if you are thinking about it, you’re practising it. Then, over time, you’ll become unstoppable and unbroken in the face of adversity, grace or disgrace.
Photo credit: NJ Lifehacks.