The Daily Stoic for April 22nd. “The marks of a rational person”.
“These are the characteristics of the rational soul: self-awareness, self-examination, and self-determination. It reaps its own harvest. . . . It succeeds in its own purpose . . .”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 11.1–2
I started this daily stoic journey without a clear idea of where it would take me. I had a general idea of stoicism, and had read some things here and there. However, I approached the project with a certain degree of skepticism.
The Marks Of A Rational Person
Today’s online world is plagued by holistic tricksters, inspirational gurus, eco-vegan-pro-animal-rights-yoga-hipsters and stuff like that. While that’s perfectly fine –I’m not doing any judgements here– and I acknowledge that they serve a demanding market, it’s not what I am into.
I’m just a solopreneur and digital nomad who happens to enjoy writing and sharing his experiences with others. I am a very pragmatic person, so I don’t believe in anything outside of my senses.
Why am I telling this? Because some of these stoic concepts -like “self-awareness“- may sound like metaphysical mambo jambo sometimes. Since I started with stoicism, I have found out it’s a great tool with a lot of useful teachings, but not something that I can apply universally.
And that’s a good thing. Just like with everything you read, see, listen or watch, you need to be critical and take the information with a grain of salt.
Self-Awareness, Self-Examination And Self-Determination
Curiously enough, the stoic meditation for today is asking us to apply that same philosophy to ourselves. At least, that’s what I read from it.
In order to do that, obviously, we need to devote some time looking inward. In today’s world of permanent distractions, that’s not an easy task. Think about the last time you were waiting for the bus, or the last time you were with a friend at a bar and he went to order another beer. What did you do? Probably grab your phone and consume some information.
That’s what self-awareness means to me. We need to stop using every idle minute of our lives to glance at our screens. Use that time to think, to observe your surroundings, other people around you, or just to be present.
It’s amazing how, when we let our minds wander, we start to review our day, what we did, our thoughts, or how we feel. In my case, I try to enforce it with meditation, or devoting some time to it while walking to the co-working center. I would call that a self-examination.
In order to be effective, ideally you will get to some conclusions after that. In my case, since I started following the daily stoic, I have taken some decisions that have, in fact, helped me be a less angry and anxious person and better accept the world around me. It’s not just a matter of thinking “I will try not to do this…” or “I will try to see things differently…”. It’s a matter of applying it right now, at that very moment.
That’s what I would call self-determination.
So in that sense, today’s Daily Stoic, “The marks of a rational person”, can be seen as more than buzzwords and pseudo new-age slang. In my case, at least, stoicism, while not the ultimate philosophy, has given me a lot to think about, and a lot to apply to my life every day.