People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills; and you too are especially inclined to feel this desire. But this is altogether unphilosophical, when it is possible for you to retreat into yourself at any time you want.
There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind, especially if he has within himself the kind of thoughts that let him dip into them and so at once gain complete ease of mind; and by ease of mind, I mean nothing but having one’s own mind in good order. So constantly give yourself this retreat and renew yourself.
You should have at hand concise and fundamental principles, which will be enough, as soon as you encounter them, to cleanse you from all distress and send you back without resentment at the activities to which you return.Marcus Aurelius
… Now that is easy, because it’s so simple.
You don’t have a lot of envy. You don’t have a lot of resentment, You don’t overspend your income. You stay cheerful in spite of your troubles. You deal with reliable people and you do what you’re supposed to do. And all these simple rules work so well to make your life better. And they’re so trite.
‘How old were you when you figured this out?’
About seven. I could tell that some of my older people were a little bonkers. I’ve always been able to recognize that other people were a little bonkers. And it helped me because there’s so much irrationality in the world. And I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, its causes and its preventions, and so forth. Sure it’s helped me.
And–staying cheerful…because it’s a wise thing to do. Is that so hard? And can you be cheerful when you’re absolutely mired in deep hatred and resentment? Of course you can’t. So why would you take it on?
‘Is there any advice you would go back and give your 20-year-old self? ’
Many of my children have worked out well. And I’ve had very little to do with it. I think they come into the world, to a certain extent, pre-made. And you just sit there and watch…. It’s been simply amazing to me as a parent to note know much is sort of preordained. The shy baby is the shy adult. The booming, obnoxious, domineering baby is the booming, domineering, obnoxious adult. I’ve never found a way to fix that. I can be cheerful about it, but I can’t fix it. I can change my reaction, but I can’t change the outcome.— Charlie Munger
— From ‘How to be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to live a modern life’ P. 42
And that reality includes the fact that no one is immortal, no one is ‘ours’ in the sense that we are entitled to him or her. Understanding this is not just a way to maintain sanity when a loved one dies, or a dear friend leaves for another country. Facing this reality also reminds us to enjoy the company and love of our fellow humans as much as possible while we can, trying hard not to take them for granted, because it is certain that one day we and they will be gone and the only right ‘season’ for appreciating them will have passed. We always live hic et nunc — here and now.”
— From ‘How to be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to live a modern life’ P. 39
— From How to Be a Stoic – Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life P.34
— From How to Be a Stoic – Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life P.23
The Stoics used several metaphors to get their points across. One of the most incisive is that of a garden, introduced by Chrysippus, who said that the fruits of the garden represent the ethics. To get good fruits we must nurture the plants with fine nutrients: the soil of the garden, then, is the physics, providing our understanding of the world in which we live. Moreover, our ‘garden’ needs to be fenced off from unwanted and destructive influences, or it will be taken over by weeds and nothing good will grow in it: the fence is the logic, keeping bad reasoning out of the way.
Our friend Epictetus developed his own highly original take on why the three stoic areas of study are important:
There are three departments in which a man who is to be good and noble must be trained. The first concerns the will to get and will to avoid; he must be trained not to fail to get what he wills to get nor fall into what he wills to avoid. The second is concerned with impulse to act and not to act, and, in a word, the sphere of what is fitting: that we should act in order, with due consideration, and with proper care. The object of the third is that we may not be deceived, and may not judge at random, and generally it is concerned with ascent.
These are often referred to as the three Stoic disciplines: desire, action, ascent.”