Another year, another effort to get my writing habit developed. I’m going to keep trying to write daily until I get it down or I die (probably the latter). Oh well, life is about the journey and the struggle…
Anyway, as part of my daily routine I read a section from “The Daily Stoic“. I completed it last year and started it anew on January 1st. I have also added “The Daily Stoic Journal” to my morning routine to help me dive deeper into the text. Today’s passage and prompt really hit a sensitive spot for me:
We must give up many things to which we are addicted, considering them to be good. Otherwise, courage will vanish, which should continually test itself. Greatness of soul will be lost, which can’t stand out unless it disdains as petty what the mob regards as most desirable. – Seneca, Moral Letters, 74.12b-13
I have two thoughts on this passage. First, I disagree with the absolutism of Seneca in this case. I don’t think that it logically follows that because the “mob” thinks something is desirable then it is necessarily something we should “disdain as petty”. The mob can be wrong a lot, but it takes more analysis than just “they like it, so I hate it”. This absolutism is one of the areas in which I tend to disagree with the Stoics and this is a textbook case of that. A better way to put it would have been “Greatness of the soul will be lost, which can’t stand out unless it rationally looks at what the mob regards as most desirable to determine if it is truly of value.” Our reasoning mind is what powers us through life and we shouldn’t value being a contrarian over being a rational being.
The second thought is more personal and has to do with my own addictions. I think addiction exists on a spectrum (is anything in nature truly binary? Spoiler: no). There are certain things in my life that I have an addiction to that really do me no significant harm, other than the fact that I am a servant to these tools instead of the other way around. Coffee falls into this category. Other addictions have some harm but I generally have control over, but I need to be aware of them to make sure the bad doesn’t outweigh the good (alcohol, MDMA, video games, and pizza are in this group).
The last group is the most troubling, these are things that I know are causing more harm than good and I feel like I lack the control to give them up. Scrolling Facebook, reading the news, and concern over my online persona/image are the big ones for me in this group. I wouldn’t say things have spiraled out of control, but they are inching down that path and I find it troublesome. So, I’m going to focus on building a healthier relationship with these things so that I am in control and they are not. I’m not sure what tools will be effective yet, but I think abstinence from the news is doable and valuable. Facebook I want to maintain the good without the bad, which means not scrolling through my feed. There are groups on Facebook that I’m a part of and are really valuable to me, so I’m going to try and stick with replying to those and ignoring the rest.
So, we will see how it goes. I’m really excited about 2018 and I think it is going to be an amazing period of growth and new experiences.
As always, I’m an open book.
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