To succeed at anything, you need to be in the game.
You can’t let stress, anger or anxiety take you out of the arena.
When I feel any of these emotions, I have a playbook I can work through to address it.
- Amor Fati
- The Last Time
- Memento Mori
- It happens for you
- Pause and recognize
- Cosmic Insignificance
Pause and Recognize
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
– Viktor E. Frankl
This quote changed my life when I read it in Viktor’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, where he documented how he survived a Nazi concentration camp.
Viktor survived and ultimately thrived, because he maintained his belief in the meaning of his life despite the atrocities he endured and witnessed.
Regardless of what was happening to him, he chose his reactions. His thoughts.
Viktor summarized this as you cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.
For the last dozen years, I have worked to increase the gap between stimulus and response and to use that gap to make the right choices.
It doesn’t matter.
None of it is going to last – not your:
In the fullness of time, it’s all going to disappear – Everything.
The Buddhist concept of impermanence refers to the idea that everything is in a constant state of change and flux, which includes our thoughts, emotions and experiences.
When you understand and accept impermanence, you can learn to let go of attachment and find peace in the present moment.
Instead of getting caught up in the intensity of your emotions, you can remind yourself they will pass.
Like everything else in life, your emotions are impermanent and will change. When you accept this fact and let go of your attachment to the emotion, you can find a sense of peace and balance.
The Last Time
Sam Harris blends the concepts of impermanence and mindfulness in his concept the Last Time, which is the idea every moment we experience is unique and will never be repeated in exactly the same way again.
There will be a last time for everything in your life and when you take a moment to appreciate it, your perspective will change.
You’ll appreciate each moment as it happens and let go of regrets of the past:
- Live in the present moment
- Appreciate the unique nature of each experience
- Cultivate a sense of gratitude for the good things in your life
Amor Fati is a Latin phrase that could be translated as either love of fate or love of one’s fate. A central tenet of the ancient and practical philosophy of Stoicism, often represented by the symbol of fire. As Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic Emperor of Rome, wrote a blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.
Though they likely never met, the lectures of Epictetus, which were made into Discourses by his student Arrian heavily influenced Marcus Aurelius. This relationship is beautiful in and of itself and is, to me, emblematic of Amor Fati. The words of Epictetus, a former slave, influenced Marcus Aurelius who would become the Emperor of Rome, perhaps the most powerful man in the world at that time. The words of Epictetus echoed throughout Marcus Aurelius’ own writings in Meditations.
On Amor Fati, Epictetus said don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will — then your life will be serene.
The concept of Amor Fati continued into the 19th Century when Friedrich Nietzsche said my formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it — all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary — but love it.
Put simply, Amor Fati means to not only accept, but be grateful and love what has happened, what is happening and what will happen.
What happens to you may not be positive. In fact, it may be horrible, if you let it be…
The stimulus is the stimulus.
How you perceive the stimulus is your choice. No one else’s.
Don’t let the arrow hit you twice.
Memento Mori is another Stoic concept.
In Latin it means remember you must die. It is often represented visually by a skull, but other symbols could include: hour glasses, clocks, fruit or flowers.
As Marcus Aurelius said, you could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.
This was echoed by Seneca: Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.
The Stoics practiced Memento Mori, because it is inevitable. We will all die. We are all impermanent.
If you don’t contemplate death and impermanence, or worse, if you’re afraid of death and impermanence, then you won’t live to your fullest.
It is not intended as a depressant nor should it be looked at that way. Instead, it should motivate you. It should create a desire to live to your fullest. To penetrate your life with Solar Energy.
This is something Covid-19 really brought up in me. We will be gone. We are impermanent. We do not know what could happen today. Tomorrow. To us. To our family. To our possessions.
With that in mind, we can make a choice. We can wilt and remain in the dark or we can live our life. I choose to live. To live fully. In the light.
What do you choose?
It Happens For You
People who fail think life happens to them.
They don’t recognize their locus of control and the role they play in their lives.
People who succeed realize life is happening for them. They recognize they’re in control.
Even in the darkness, or the worst situations, they think:
- What can I learn from this
- How can I be better from this
When you reorient your mindset to life is happening FOR YOU, you become the co-creator.
You can start to ask yourself questions that will reorient you and move you forward, such as:
- What else is true
- Why is this happening
- What is the good in this
- What is the positive outcome
I had a session with my Buddhism Coach, I’ll never forget.
It was in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and he asked me how I was feeling, to which I replied anxious.
First, he shared with me an observation about the energy pattern I label anxiety, which was powerful, before he asked me what I thought was a trick question Clint, how large is your perception, or being.
I thought for a while about the depth of our perception and how it can stretch from one corner of the galaxy to the smallest concept in reality when I replied to him, it’s infinite.
He asked me to think about the infinite nature of our perception in relation to the energy in the centre of my chest and said now, how small does that anxiety feel.
Wow, it felt tiny.
It quickly felt irrelevant.
While it did work for me, he did suggest if the anxiety was too persistent or powerful I should seek medical help and I will share the same message with you.
He was helping me understand the idea of cosmic insignificance, which refers to human beings and their concerns being insignificant in the grand scheme of the Universe.
This can be a difficult concept to accept when it challenges your idea that you’re the center of your universe.
If you embrace the idea, it can be liberating.
It can help you put your problems into perspective and recognize many of the things you worry about are trivial in the grand scheme of things.SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER