Daily Stoic for January the 12th. The one path to serenity.
“Keep this thought at the ready at daybreak, and through the day and night—there is only one path to happiness, and that is in giving up all outside of your sphere of choice, regarding nothing else as your possession, surrendering all else to God and Fortune.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.4.39
Since I decluttered my life to become a digital nomad, I have grown used to living with a lot less. Just my computer, my iPad, my phone, and the clothes that fit inside my suitcase.
Back in Madrid, I certainly had a lot of stuff: a TV set with my Apple TV. My car. A room full of musical instruments. Loads of books I was no longer reading and CDs I was no longer listening to. Hundreds of Gadgets. Two bikes… You get the idea.
However, right now, all that’s gone.
That means that I no longer need to worry about all those things. Additionally, the decluttering process forced me to choose what was really important for me. Now I have more time to fill with less things, and that certainly brings you peace of mind and serenity.
Living More Intensely
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
— Breathe, The Dark Side of The Moon, Pink Floyd, 1972.
It might sound weird, but being reduced to just what you carry with you makes you live things more intensely. Let me try and explain that.
When I was an employee, I used to live on a monthly basis. Life passed by in month intervals, from one payment check to the next. The most exciting events during that month were the weekends. Thus, I waited a whole week to get to the weekend, and a whole month to earn my salary.
Today, I live every day differently. My job is certainly not a sequence of repetitive tasks ending in a payment check anymore. As a result, I do something new, face new problems and challenges, and learn something from them every day.
Some years ago, I started to feel like every year was getting shorter. That was a very worrying feeling. So in a way, time has expanded for me now.
And that’s an interesting side effect I had not expected.
The One Path To Serenity
Similarly, when you realize that everything outside you is not under your control, you experiment a similar awakening.
You don’t need to consciously think about it all day like Epictetus affirms in this passage.
After some time, it kind of comes to you naturally.
When we give up on trying to control what we can’t, some interesting stuff starts to happen.
First, you become an observer, instead of an actor.
Next, you start to look at things differently, from a more neutral, less temperamental perspective.
Then, you end up accepting lots of things that previously hit your nerves. You do your best every day, work hard, enjoy life, and look at things from a whole new perspective.
January the 12th. Today’s Daily Stoic definitely resonates with me at a lot of levels.
By giving up on trying to control everything that’s out of our reach, and becoming an observer, we start looking at things differently. Eventually, that helps us focus on doing our best every day, live life more intensely, enjoy our time better, and have a happier, more tranquil life.
That’s what the One path to serenity means to me.