The Daily Stoic for today: Perception. Action. Will. The big three concepts of Stoicism.
“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment;
action for the common good in the present moment;
and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 9.6
These three main concepts form the basis of the whole philosophy behind the stoic movement.
I was considering writing a post about what these concepts suggest me, but it was getting pretty lame and boring. 🙂
Thus, I decided to instead try to apply these concepts to one of the biggest mistakes I have made in my life: buying a house.
How I Ended Up Buying A House
In late 2007, I worked at the University of Murcia, as a researcher and aspiring professor. Back then, I was 27, and I thought I will spend my life at the University of Murcia, teaching Machine Learning and Advanced Statistics.
How naive I was.
I lived in Cartagena, my home town, which is about 1h away by car. For someone living in a big city, it’s probably a normal commuting time. However, at the time, it seemed like an eternity to me.
Those days, there was this real estate frenzy. The bubble was about to burst, and everybody was trying to buy a house.
Control Your Perceptions
I could have rented a house. I wish I had. It would have saved me a lot of time, money and troubles.
Nevertheless, everybody around me was advising me to buy, not to rent.
- You are wasting your money…
- With just a little bit more you could own your house instead of paying someone else’s…
- You can always sell your house, and the prices are going to rise eternally…
The fact is, I was obsessed with owning a house. I wanted that feeling of having a place of my own.
However, my salary barely reached 900€/month. I had to work full-time as an intern and add some additional hours teaching to reach that amount.
Obviously, buying a house was not a very rational decision.
Direct Your Actions Properly
However, I left my emotions and feelings cloud my mind, and I bought a house. I had to work a lot harder to pay the bills. That’s when I started freelancing some extra hours.
Three months later, I’ve had enough. First and foremost, I was completely disillusioned with the Spanish academic environment. Additionally, I was working a lot, and close to burning out. Finally, I got to a point where I was not sure if I had a future at the University.
I started looking for jobs nearby, only to realize that I was overqualified, and nobody was willing to pay a decent salary for a computer science engineer like me. The real estate bubble exploded, and unemployment rates sky-rocketed.
I felt kind of trapped.
Then, a job appeared in computer security, and I took it. It was a steady, well paid corporate job. The only problem? It was in Madrid, 550km away from my house.
I had bought a house I couldn’t live in. Furthermore, I needed to pay a mortgage in Murcia and the rent in Madrid. The market won’t allow me to sell or even rent my house at the price I needed to cover the loan’s costs.
Willingly Accept What’s Outside Of Your Control
Buying that house was the biggest single mistake of my life, and I am still paying for it. It has been a tremendous source of frustration and angst for me. Certainly, more than anything else in my life.
Even thought it was the result of a series of mistakes and lack of reasoning from me, I can’t change the past. As a result, I need to be willing to accept that the damage is done, and try my best to someday amend this error and get rid of its legacy.
Luckily, since 2007, I have learned a lot. I think I am a wiser person, and I am taking the steps to become a more free, happy person every day.
Conclusion: The Big Three Concepts Behind Stoicism.
Today, instead of just commenting the Daily Stoic passage for January the 4th, I decided to relate it to the story of the biggest mistake of my life: buying a house. I have to acknowledge it’s been a fun exercise finding out how these big three concepts relate to this mistake I made.
Want to share your thoughts? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!