How to look at work challenges and not lose productivity. Stoicism.
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality” Seneca.
Shall we come back in time and read the story of one man.
“In the city of Cyprus in 300 BC, there once lived a very wealthy and successful trader called Zeno, while on a voyage from Phoenicia to Piraeus his boat sank, along with all of his cargo. Due to this event, which was entirely out of Zeno’s and anyone’s control this rich man suddenly became poor in an instant”.
Now could we assume that you are a Zeno – your entire life saving has gone nowhere due to circumstances of nature. How would you react? Would you be angry? Frustrated? Would you feel like life has tricked you? For most of us, it would be a normal reaction to this case, but not Zeno – the father of stoicism.
What is Stoicism?
One small change lasts an eternity, and one small reframing of your mindset can cascade into larger and more impactful changes later down the line. It concerns every part of our life – efficiency, facing work challenges, productivity, habits, effectiveness everywhere, starting life from the new page – you name it.
The core of Stoicism is the very definition of acceptance, indifference, and not allowing emotions to affect you being productive or making difficulties at work bigger than those are. Zeno developed a philosophical system called Stoicism after reading the writings of Socrates and other great thinkers.
According to him, even if we have little control over what happens to us, we do have power over how it impacts us, and we must utilize this control wisely. Rather than crying over what is not in our hands to change, or in this case – drowned goods, Zeno focused on keeping cool and objective in the face of the crisis, and in the right state of mind, being efficient, doing the work from the beginning.
Just like starting a new level in the game, where the previous experience went away, also called “prestige” in some games.
Modern people mistake Stoics for individuals who cannot be broken, those who do not frequently swerve into emotional extremes, as outbursts of fury or attacks of worry. However, the original concept of Stoicism was far more than that.
Stoicism was a method of observing, describing, and understanding the world, rather than merely a technique to characterize individuals who are emotionless and rely on productivity. It was a style of life that had endured hundreds of years. The ideology of Stoic may be applied to problems now in the same way that it did thousands of years ago, and the advantages are just as powerful.
The Stoicism enables us to process our unpleasant emotions from terrible events and transform them into concepts that provide us with a unique view of the world and assist us to be more effective in our daily lives, even if you are facing work challenges.
Everyone is different
Everyone in the world has various experiences and viewpoints on things, thus perspective is crucial. The Stoics’ philosophy was well recognized because they assembled, debated, and taught philosophy in public. They thought that Stoic values could help each and everyone, thus hiding such enlightenment behind the four walls of schools or the royal gardens was absurd.
As a result, everyone from the poor to Emperor could learn and become a Stoic and improve their lives, and they did. Some of the world’s greatest Stoics include Epictetus, whose name means “acquired” since he was originally a slave, Seneca, a well-known senator, and Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and among the most powerful men who ever existed.
The early Stoics did what they proclaimed, rejecting all forms of prejudice and advocating for equality. They even created the term “cosmopolitan,” which literally means “global citizen“. People today associate that word with cities such as New York, Toronto, Dubai, Tokyo, and London because of their diversity.
This was the sort of cooperation and solidarity that the Stoics espoused. Even at a time when it wasn’t popular, women were allowed to freely learn about Stoicism and become Stoics themselves.
So, what is it about Stoicism that attract so many people?
In a world full of unforeseen twists and turns, our emotions might get in the path. In general, we are unhappy because unanticipated negative things happen to us, not because undesirable events occur. Rain is beneficial since it watered our plants, provided water for livestock, and kept the temperature comfortable and pleasant.
However, when a heavy cloud caught you outdoors without an umbrella, it is never a nice experience. So why don’t we burst into tears as soon as it begins raining? It’s because although the situation isn’t good, we’ve been taught to anticipate rain. We can’t control the weather, so it is inescapable. Although it is uncomfortable, the rain always comes to an end and the light comes back.
The main question is – are you allowing these circumstances to affect your efficiency? Or do you take control of your things in the process and be effective?
Stoicism tells us that we ought to anticipate everything terrible that may happen to occur. Consider the worst-case scenario and accept that it is possible.
The Stoic practices
One of the Stoic practices is called “voluntary discomfort” – a practice designed to increase a sense of thanksgiving. For instance, sleep on the floor of your kitchen, have cold showers instead of hot ones, consume nothing except potatoes for several days, try to do your job differently than usual, and other such things.
These exercises teach you that no matter how difficult things become if you have the appropriate mentality, you will endure and flourish. We unintentionally prepare our minds for future calamities by being able to bear these difficult events and be more productive than others, who are too much into their comfort zone.
With the present situation of the world, where advertising is continuously pushed down our mouths, we are led to feel that if we don’t have the next greatest thing, look a particular way, that only CEOs can be prosperous, or make a certain amount of money, we will never be happy – this idea is more crucial than ever.
We arrive in the world knowing very little
We learn things at home, at school, and through watching the world around us. The truth is, all three of these sources of knowledge frequently educate us in distinct ways. The question arises – Is it necessary to assimilate all this information? If we do, we may mistakenly create unreasonable expectations for ourselves, leaving us disillusioned and dissatisfied in the end.
That is not the way to live. Instead, we should concentrate on enhancing ourselves and the things we do for ourselves. Be productive and efficient if we desire it if it helps us progress as people, overcome work tasks, and only for that reason!
External hope or secondary attachments attached to our activities almost inevitably result in a letdown. Most of the time, we attempt to satisfy that void with outer things. If someone of you has seen Fight Club, you will understand what is meant here. Here are some movie quotes:
– “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet….”
– “The things you used to own, now they own you.”
So, spending all your money on a flashy vehicle, a new home, or even raising a family. We sometimes perform all these activities for their exterior worth rather than their inner benefit. However, Stoicism emphasizes that if you approach life in this manner, you throw your pleasure in the hands of external influence, which may and will fail. Cars nearly inevitably break down, natural hazards wipe off entire cities, and divorce rates continue to rise year after year.
Free aspects of life cost...
However, even the free aspects of life have a cost. The physical and cognitive costs of space.
As Seneca eloquently said, “learning to live with less will provide space in your life for the things that are truly important to you.” Instead, we must base our satisfaction on our inner worth as individuals rather than on what we own or can materialistically obtain. We must choose to try our best to have a calm mind no matter what life throws at us.
Because, despite anything we want, we have no control over most of what happens to us, but we do have complete power over how we respond to those situations. This is the dichotomy of control, the most significant principle in Stoic philosophy.
Stoics argue that we must be able to distinguish between what we can and cannot regulate. We must establish our values based on what we can control rather than what we cannot. Aiming towards objectives is a positive quality, as well as being efficient and productive in what you do, but, from a Stoic perspective, breaking down when events don’t go your route is pointless.
Writing a blog is… well a lot easier than being a Roman Emperor, but it can still prove to be challenging sometimes.
First, you must form your idea, which takes forever, then research that idea. Scrap it because it’s not enough, start over, script the structure of the blog, and create a text, so it’s interesting to read. Find visuals, create visuals, improve, adjust visuals, and make sure it aligns with the strategy we at Luxafor are following. Make adjustments to the text, re-edit it, and think of a way to re-edit it and everything else.
All that before you structure it on the site and hit publish button. Everything until the moment you hit “publish” is all up to you. Yet, once you press the publish button, control is passed to the Google algorithm.
Nonetheless, many individuals assess the effectiveness of their identity depending on if they can find themselves on Google, their YouTube channel, or Instagram account dependent on the number of views and subscribers or admirers they have, indicators over which they have little influence. Stoics taught that the amount of work you put in, rather than the result of your extrinsic expectations, should be used to assess the effectiveness of your labor.
Trust the process
Living with less entails freeing yourself from the social chains you’ve placed on yourself.
Think about a person who has been working hard, productively, and completing work challenges for the past 6 months.
Now he believes he is deserving a promotion and approaches his employer with his performance evaluation. The employer appreciates him but does not give him the advancement, and he walks home believing he is unfit for the position. He doesn’t examine the possibility that the boss just awakened furious, that someone else was better suited now. Or that the firm was simply incurring losses and couldn’t support it. He has no idea why, but he’s still offended.
He might have been considerably happy overall if he had just placed his emphasis on the quality of the performance evaluation. If he kept doing his thing in order to obtain desired promotion.
With the correct state of mind, his aim would not have been decreased, but only postponed.
It is critical that you reframe your mentality. A real Stoic does not measure their success by the amount of money they make. But rather by the realization that they can live a pleasant life despite all the luxuries money buys.
4 essential elements of the Stoicism
Stoicism is distinguished by four major qualities – Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, and Justice.
Wisdom – is the capability to differentiate between what is internal and what is external, as well as the power to select our attitude toward what happens to us. As Viktor Frankl expressed it, “between stimulus and response there is a – space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”
Courage – two words – “persist and resist”.
Temperance, moderation, or efficiency – is what we just did there, doing more with less, saying more with fewer words. While Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos compete for the leading position on Forbes’ list, Stoics think that the peak of wealth should simply be having what is essential, and then having what is enough.
Justice – is the most crucial of all qualities. It teaches that no one should inflict damage on another since we were all created for one another, to do good to one another, not just to ourselves.
Story of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was one of the world’s most well-known African leaders. While combating apartheid, he was condemned to life behind bars, where he remained for 27 years before being freed. When he was freed, he was made governor of South Africa. And many people expected him to severely punish everybody who had any connection with apartheid or his captivity, but he did not.
During his time in jail, Mandela read Marcus Aurelius’ books and learned many of the essential ideals of Stoicism. All of which he followed throughout his lifetime. Instead of demanding the heads of evildoers, Mandela encouraged his people to seek the alternative. To calm and renew.
He emphasized that the past was no longer under their authority. That the only option they could do was find a way to go ahead and establish a better society. This is the Stoic way of life. Concentrate on things that benefit you, be productive, and avoid aiming for destruction, hatred, or vengeance.
Is it used outside lifestyle and philosophy?
Stoicism is at the heart of current medical techniques such as Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Logotherapy. REBT assists patients in recognizing negative thinking patterns that may be causing emotional and behavioral problems. It enables you to use logic to test the reasoning behind all of these poor feelings. Once you discover – many of them are baseless, you can change them with more productive and healthy beliefs.
In contrast, logotherapy is founded on the Stoic notion that mankind is driven by goals. Even in the worst of circumstances, we may find meaning and satisfaction in our life by just discovering what that mission is. However, as many of us are aware, this is easier said than done. It is, like everything else, a process. We need to reprogram our brains. Out with the old, in with the new.
To solve our happiness difficulties, we must exercise self-worth. We can live a lot better and more fulfilled life if we refocus our concept of worth on the things, we can influence rather than the ones we cannot regulate.
Stoicism assists us in navigating past and present thunderstorms into quieter, more peaceful waters.
And if our ship collapses and we all perish, we may rest assured that we lived a happy life, albeit not as we have anticipated. Because, as we all know, everything has an ending. So, make the most of what you have now rather than putting it off till later! Now you know how to handle your work challenges. Be efficient with your time, productive in what enriches you and provides you joy and happiness, and effective in what you accomplish.
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