The world is as you choose to see it, completely free of your circumstances. The project is you. Improve your inner world, improve your life.
Conor McGregor is displaying traits of a stoic mindset, whether it be consciously or not. And some of the greatest minds and philosophers of all times such as Seneca and the emperor Marcus Aurelius were all known for adapting a stoic mindset.
You have the outmost free will in any circumstance, regardless of what your emotions might tell you. You have a lot more control of what is going on than you realize. You are in charge and have the ability to create the life you want.
Lesson one: Want what you have.
The first lesson to develop a successful stoic mindset is to want what you already have. It’s about realizing that the solution to your unhappy life is right in front of you.
Focus on being content on where you are and what you already have. This is a powerful concept and goes against the popular beliefs and materialistic thinking.
The society we’re brought up into is heavily based on the consumer mentality and that more is better. Bigger is better and the one who dies with the most toys wins. The problem with is that we will always want more and were never content. We think that more will bring us happiness but it’s really just an endless struggle for something that we will never be able to reach, because happiness is just a state of mind. And we’re attaching that state of mind to a never ending chase for more and bigger. Once we own that thing that we think will make us happy, we immediately start looking for the next thing to own that will make us happy.
Learn to appreciate what you already have. You have lived so long with it already and it hasn’t made you unhappy or unable to live. Your current fridge or TV has served you well and has done exactly what it’s supposed to do, and isn’t that what you really wanted from it?
So the first lesson of stoicism is to never take anything for granted, and don’t root your sense of happiness in possessions or achievements. Wanting what you already have will make you more grateful and happy on a daily basis. This will drown out any feeling of jealousy, discontent and stress. Desire for more is a source of satisfaction that will never end.
Lesson two: Everything is neutral
Everything that happens in the world is neutral. All the event has a different effect on everyone, so the natural conclusion is that events are neutral. Your own reaction and perception of the event is what causes your unhappiness.
Imagine that you’re sitting at restaurant and you can see how someone slams into your car. You have a choice of how you react in this situation. You can do like most people and rush out in anger and complain. Or you could calmly accept that the damage is already done, take your phone out and sort it out. It’s the same event, but with two different outcomes. Which do you think reaction would lead to a more effective resolution?
No matter how you react to an event or situation, the facts will remain the same. Instead of overreacting over the fact that you were powerless to stop the situation from happening, focus on what you can control.
Lesson three: Practice separation
To practice separation and effectively handle the sources of helplessness and stress, separate your life into two buckets: things you can control, and things you can’t control.
You will have a greater probability of success if you don’t waste time worrying about or tweaking things you can’t control, but spend that energy on things you can control.
Ask yourself: will any amount of worrying change an outcome you cannot control?
You can’t control the weather, the economy or other people’s opinions of you. However you can control how you react to it.
A stoic practices separation by creating two buckets of controllables. Then focuses the time and energy only on what he is in control of.
Lesson four: Turning the obstacle upside down
Adapting a stoic mindset is particularly helpful when battling the obstacles we face in our lives. Defeat negative judgements and turn the obstacle around. Train yourself to avoid judging events as purely good or bad. Realize you can turn any obstacle upside down to suit your purposes.
Seek to interpret things that you would normally consider negative as positive opportunities. This is a philosophical exercise that stoics constantly engage in, and the most practical effect is enabling the thinker to become immune to negative emotional spirals. Instead they have made a habit to force alternate thought patterns to gain perspective and become able to rationally move forward.
This mentality can be applied to all negative events. See the negative events as an opportunity to practice inner strength, calm, control and level-headedness.
The more you you turn the obstacle upside down, the more you’ll realize that there is no such thing as good or bad. There’s only your perception of it and you decide how to deal with it.
Lesson five: Assume voluntary discomfort.
This is one of the central mindsets that may have the biggest impact in your daily life. It’s about making your life artificially difficult and uncomfortable for a set period of time in order to gain the perspective that you’ve tried hard to avoid. Actively seek to make life difficult for yourself. Dissatisfaction in our daily lives is the result of a certain level of entitlement. We just expect things to always run smoothly. This is the type of mindset that will spiral you into being upset because your toast is a bit burnt, or that your coffee is too cold.
According to the stoic philosophy, just because you can afford yourself a nice meal every single day, doesn’t mean you should do so. In fact you’re better off if you skip a few meals from time to time just to experience hunger.
It builds perseverance and grit, but more importantly it demolishes the sense of entitlement that chips away at your daily happiness.
The great stoic philosopher Seneca emphasized the importance of this, and remarked that your fears will melt away because anxiety and fear is often based in ignorance and uncertainty. So by experiencing discomfort, you will walk away stronger by realizing that you experienced what you dreaded and suffered no ill effects from it.
Lesson six: Emotions are created internally
Emotions come solely from within and are created completely by your choice. Everything that happens in the world is neutral. Bad or good doesn’t exist in external sources, it logically flows that all emotions come from within. What we tell ourself is what creates our feelings.
We are all blank slates, but it’s human nature to blame other people, excuse ourselves or dodge responsibility.
When you feel resistance regarding an obstacle in your life, don’t look at the things happening outside of you. Focus instead on what happens inside. How you frame that issue in your mind. That is the cause of your discomfort and your problem. It’s the judgement that holds you back or pushes you forward. Remember that you are always in control and nobody can put beliefs in our minds. No one can put desire and attitude into your life other than you.
Lesson seven: Care less
The last lesson in stoicism is to simply care less. Don’t ignore everything that’s going on in your life, but stop caring about the things you can’t control. Free up your internal resources to focus your time and mental energy on things that truly matter. The most precious asset is not money, but time. You can always earn money back, but once a single minute of your life has passed, it’s gone forever. Don’t spend your time worrying about external forces that are out of your control.
A stoic mindset urges you to live as you want right now. It’s all within your control, so make a decision and chose to have a better life now.