The Daily Stoic for September 23rd, “The Most Secure Fortress”.

“Remember that your ruling reason becomes unconquerable when it rallies and relies on itself, so that it won’t do anything contrary to its own will, even if its position is irrational. How much more unconquerable if its judgments are careful and made rationally? Therefore, the mind freed from passions is an impenetrable fortress—a person has no more secure place of refuge for all time.
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 8.48

Today’s daily stoic talks about the importance of habits. How they can modify our behavior, even our unconscious behavior, if repeated enough times. Can we create habits that can turn us into rational, unemotional people? Can we give up anger, lust or angst if we train ourselves to avoid those emotions? And more importantly…

Should we?

The Most Secure Fortress

I do think you can create habits by repeating behaviors and patterns over and over. Most probably, everything can be trained, both consciously and unconsciously.

What I’m not so sure about is the convenience of training our emotional responses or behavior. Obviously, if you have a rage problem, it’s great to get some help, or try to get rid of it. But somehow, there’s something about the concept of “practicing” or “training” your behavior that I find disgusting.

I think there are better ways to get the same results that won’t turn you into a sociopath or robot. One of them is definitely meditation. It has helped me. Another one, obviously, is using stoicism, but not to coerce yourself into giving away your emotions. More like understanding your reactions and try not to get taken over by them.

We are all humans after all, and that’s ok. We all make mistakes, and that’s part of what makes us humans. Getting rid of that, even though may make us super stoic, impassible gods doesn’t seem like the best alternative. At least, that’s my humble opinion.

Conclusion

Today’s Daily Stoic, “The Most Secure Fortress”, talks again about suppressing emotions, but this time, using practice and training as if we were learning martial arts. I still believe there are better alternatives.

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