And here lies the essential between Stoicism and the modern-day 'cult of optimism.' For the Stoics, the ideal state of mind was tranquility, not the excitable cheer that positive thinkers usually seem to mean when they use the word, 'happiness.' And tranquility was to be achieved not by strenuously chasing after enjoyable experiences, but by cultivating a kind of calm indifference towards one's circumstances.
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APAOliver Burkeman Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=and-here-lies-essential-between-stoicism-modernday-cult-optimism-for-stoics-ideal-state-mind-was-tranquility-not-excitable-cheer-that-positive-thinkers-usually-seem-to-mean-when-
ChicagoOliver Burkeman Quotes. Jar of Quotes, 2019. https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=and-here-lies-essential-between-stoicism-modernday-cult-optimism-for-stoics-ideal-state-mind-was-tranquility-not-excitable-cheer-that-positive-thinkers-usually-seem-to-mean-when-, accessed .
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Who says you need to wait until you 'feel like' doing something in order to start doing it? The problem, from this perspective, isn't that you don't feel motivated; it's that you imagine you need to feel motivated. If you can regard your thoughts and emotions about whatever you're procrastinating on as passing weather, you'll realise that your reluctance about working isn't something that needs to be eradicated or transformed into positivity. You can coexist with it. You can note the procrastinatory feelings and act anyway.
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The routines of almost all famous writers, from Charles Darwin to John Grisham, similarly emphasise specific starting times, or number of hours worked, or words written. Such rituals provide a structure to work in, whether or not the feeling of motivation or inspiration happens to be present. They let people work alongside negative or positive emotions, instead of getting distracted by the effort of cultivating only positive ones. 'Inspiration is for amateurs,' the artist Chuck Close once memorably observed. 'The rest of us just show up and get to work.
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Through positive thinking and related approaches, we seek the safety and solid ground of certainty, of knowing how the future will turn out, of a time in the future when we'll be ceaselessly happy and never have to fear negative emotions again. But in chasing all that, we close down the very faculties that permit the happiness we crave.
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it pointed to an alternative approach, a 'negative path' to happiness, that entailed taking a radically different stance towards those things that most of us spend our lives trying to avoid. It involved learning to enjoy uncertainty, embracing insecurity, stopping trying to think positively, becoming familiar with failure, even learning to value death. In short, all these people seemed to agree that in order to be truly happy, we might actually need to be willing to experience more negative emotions-or, at the very least to learn to stop running quite so hard from them.
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But sometimes you simply can't make yourself feel like acting. And in those situations, motivational advice risks making things worse, by surreptitiously strengthening your belief that you need to feel motivated before you act. By encouraging an attachment to a particular emotional state, it actually inserts an additional hurdle between you and your goal. The subtext is that if you can't make yourself feel excited and pleased about getting down to work, then you can't get down to work.
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By the second day, the song lyrics had faded, but in their place came darker irritations. Gradually, I started to become aware of a young man sitting just behind me and to the left. I had noticed him when he first entered the mediation hall, and had felt a flash of annoyance at the time: something about him, especially his beard, had struck me as too calculatedly dishevelled, as if he were trying to make a statement. Now his audible breathing was starting to irritate me, too. It seemed studied, unnatural, somehow theatrical. My irritation slowly intensified - a reaction that struck me as entirely reasonable and proportionate at the time. It was all beginning to feel like a personal attack. How much contempt must the bearded meditator have for me, I seethed silently, deliberately to decide to ruin the serenity of my meditation by behaving so obnoxiously? Experienced retreat-goers, it turns out, have a term for this phenomenon. The call it 'vipassana vendetta'. In the stillness tiny irritations become magnified into full-blown hate campaigns; the mind is so conditioned to attaching to storylines that it seizes upon whatever's available. Being on retreat had temporarily separated me from all the real causes of distress in my life, and so, apparently, I was inventing new ones. As I shuffled to my narrow bed that evening, I was still smarting about the loud-breathing man. I did let go of the vendetta eventually - but only because I'd fallen into an exhausted and dreamless sleep
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The routines of almost all famous writers, from Charles Darwin to John Grisham, similarly emphasise specific starting times, or number of hours worked, or words written. Such rituals provide a structure to work in, whether or not the feeling of motivation or inspiration happens to be present. They let people work alongside negative or positive emotions, instead of getting distracted by the effort of cultivating only positive ones. 'Inspiration is for amateurs, ' the artist Chuck Close once memorably observed. 'The rest of us just show up and get to work.
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And here lies the essential difference between Stoicism and the modern-day 'cult of optimism.' For the Stoics, the ideal state of mind was tranquility, not the excitable cheer that positive thinkers usually seem to mean when they use the word, 'happiness.' And tranquility was to be achieved not by strenuously chasing after enjoyable experiences, but by cultivating a kind of calm indifference towards one's circumstances.
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It is illuminating to note, here, how the daily rituals and working routines of prolific authors and artists - people who really do get a lot done - very rarely include techniques for 'getting motivated' or 'feeling inspired'. Quite the opposite: they tend to emphasise the mechanics of the working process, focusing not on generating the right mood, but on accomplishing certain physical actions, regardless of mood.
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What made Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein such creative geniuses? It wasn't reading books or watching YouTube talks about How To Be More Creative, that's for sure ... If startling insights could be systematically arrived at, they wouldn't be startling. The best you can do is to create a conducive environment: put in the hours; take time to daydream; avoid mind-corroding substances.
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