22: Living Happier through Stoic Philosophy
In this episode, we learn from Stoicism! Let’s get started…
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1. We can live more happily by gleaning time-tested truths from great philosophers, including the Stoics, whose beliefs about pursuing happiness through virtue originated in ancient Greece, thrived in classical Rome, and continue to attract some modern adherents worldwide.
2. We should nurture gratitude for what we already have (whether time or things), and cheerfully use it well, while actively curbing our potentially-limitless desires for more, lest we allow our avarice to spiral out-of-control.
3. We should not worry obsessively about what we cannot control (like our past or our reputation or our mortality), but humbly accept it while instead focusing our attention on what we can control (like our present or our character or our time-usage).
4. Our thoughts help shape our outcomes, and our decisions determine our destiny; we should not mindlessly react to our circumstances as they arise but instead proactively “seize the day,” “live in the moment,” question our desires to reject any unworthy ones, focus our attention not on our difficulties but on the opportunities that accompany them, exercise our imagination to rehearse success rather than failure, and plan our future (including by preparing for misfortunes).
5. We generally know what we ought to do but we sometimes procrastinate committing ourselves to it fully; instead, we should immediately demand the best of ourselves and then exert our willpower and minds to become our best selves, which may require sacrifice.
[00:51] Zach announces Funded Today’s comprehensive Ultimate Crowdfunding Success Guide available at www.funded.today/guide.
[02:18] Zach introduces Stoicism as “a pursuit of happiness achieved through a peace-of-mind that comes from living a life of virtue in accordance with reason and nature.”
[03:39] Thomas initiates discussion about the importance of being one’s best self.
[03:54] Zach teaches that Stoicism originated in ancient Greece and attracted adherents like Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who recorded his insights in a book entitled “Meditations,” along with Epictetus, who asked “how long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”
[05:27] Thomas and Zach discuss how people may know what’s best for themselves but still procrastinate to commit to do it.
[07:31] Thomas and Zach assert that it’s easier to do something 100% of the time than 99% of the time.
[08:30] Zach and Thomas emphasize the importance of demanding high performance of oneself, while exercising willpower to achieve it, which may require pain or other sacrifices.
[11:54] Zach recommends living so well that, whenever people speak ill of us, nobody will believe them, while Thomas stresses that we focus on what we can control rather than what we can’t.
[13:57] Thomas and Zach introduce the importance of curbing our potentially-limitless desires, including by preventing our avarice from spiraling out-of-control.
[18:01] Thomas reminds listeners about the importance of focusing so much on unfulfilled desires that we ignore what we already have.
[19:03] Zach quotes Seneca that we have no power to obtain everything that we want, but that we do have the power to curb our desires for more while cheerfully using what we already have.
[20:03] Thomas explains why these principles relate to business, and how it’s important to question our desires, and to reject unworthy desires.
[22:51] Zach observes that our time is limited, and that our decisions determine our destiny.
[23:27] Thomas and Zach consider the importance of planning, and being proactive rather than reactive.
[24:42] Zach initiates discussion about focusing on what we can control, rather than what we cannot.
[24:55] Zach describes the Stoic practice of using physical objects (called memento mori) to help themselves to remember important truths, especially their own mortality, for which purpose Zach uses a German engraving called “The Dance of Death” to encourage himself to live his life with urgency.
[29:27] Thomas notes that opportunities and difficulties are normally intertwined, urges listeners to focus on opportunities rather than difficulties, and encourages listeners to “live in the moment.”
[30:58] Zach and Thomas advocate that our thoughts help shape our outcomes, that we should use our imagination to rehearse success rather than worry about failure, and that we should not worry obsessively about negative possibilities but only prepare ourselves for them.
[34:39] Zach cites Dale Carnegie about considering the worst possibility and then asking ourselves if this possibility is acceptable to us—and counsels listeners to avoid being surprised.
[37:41] Thomas advises accepting the past rather than wanting a different one, and Zach references how Jesus Christ humbly sought His Father’s will.
[39:52] Zach summarizes the principle of controlling the controllable.
[40:08] Thomas and Zach advocate learning truths from the time-tested wisdom of great philosophers to be happier.
[41:24] Thomas reiterates that we should cease worrying about what we can’t control, but instead live in the present, curb our desires, and be our best selves, while Zach adds “carpe diem.”
[42:22] Zach and Thomas present this episode’s Projects of the Week.
Zach Smith: (00:01) Funded today nation. Welcome back to the Funded Today podcast. “How Green is your Grass this week?” you don't get that reference you missed a great one last Wednesday so go back and listen to Episode Number 21 to uncover some nuggets about perspective. In today's episode, Stoicism, let’s get started.
Announcer: (00:19) The Funded Today podcast is brought to you by www.fundedtoday.com. Funded Today is the premier marketing and video agency, from startups to Crowdfunding to Amazon and beyond Funded Today has helps their clients generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. If you’d like help launching or growing your business visit www.fundedtoday.com to speak with one of their experts
Zach Smith: (00:46) Welcome back to the show. I am Zach Smith.
Thomas Alvord: (00:48) And I'm Thomas Alvord.
Zach Smith: (00:51) And first-off we have a very special treat and a very special announcement we would like to make. We have been working on this for the better part of five years and it is finally finished. We are calling it the “Ultimate Crowdfunding Success Guide” if you have a better name let us know, email us let us know on the comments, it's not set yet, but it is done, it is ready, it is beautiful, it is amazing, it is normally $97 in terms of value but because you're a listener of the Funded Today podcast you can get it for free @ fundedtoday.com/guide or www.funded.today/guide however you want to do it, that’s funded.today/guide, funded.today.com/guide check it out let us know what you think about it, we think it's amazing this is everything we know about Crowdfunding broken down step-by-step all along the way, there's videos, there's links, there’s writing. I personally think this is the best thing anybody could ever ask for if they want to know how to succeed in Crowdfunding. Beside from listening to these podcast so check it out we will post in notes of how to get there right from the show notes on our website as well, so you can click to it. Now in our last episode we talked about how you have a beautiful life and how you largely control the way you see the world if you're going through some tough times, or if you just want to learn about how to shift your perspective a bit, Episode Number 21 is going to be the one for you. And remember every Wednesday we do release our new episodes, so make sure you're subscribed to receive these notifications. For today's episode, over the last few years one worldly philosophy has resonated with me more than nearly anything else I’ve studied, it’s helped me have more confidence, be less afraid and quite frankly be more happy and I'm excited to share with you a basic primer course on it today along with Thomas, the topic “Stoicism” and to start “What is Stoicism?” I found this definition from perhaps one of the best writers in our day on Stoicism, Ryan Holiday, he calls it this “Stoicism is a pursuit of happiness achieved through a peace of mind that comes from living a life of virtue in accordance with reason and nature and in today's episode we've broken it down, we have three topics for you we are going to break down this word Stoicism, make it actionable because we hate theory, we are all about being able to take some nuggets from this and change your life right away, right after you are done listening so with that Thomas, Stoicism, take us away.
Thomas Alvord: (03:18) That little quote you shared its peace of mind, that's the goal peace of mind and the way you get to it, living a life of virtue, and also in accordance with reason and nature. So really the goal is to be virtuous and to live according to reason and nature there's different areas you could go, but we've kind of broken this down into three different topics. And the first one is to be your best self, and I think this goes along with this idea of you are going to live a life of virtue so there’s stoic people throughout the world.
Zach Smith: (03:57) Stoicism started in ancient Greece, it actually started on the stower which is where everybody would go to listen to people debate ideas. The ancient Greeks were all about debating and kind of there was millions of ideas, they even had an idea called “Cynicism” with the capital C and there were people who subscribed to the idea Cynicism. Well Stoicism emerges from there on the stow on the steps in ancient Greece, they would talk about Stoicism and one of the greatest Stoics of all time is Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius was the last great Roman Emperor, by most accounts obviously, his children were a little crazier, but he himself basically wrote down all of his thoughts how he governed I mean this is the guy that ruled the Roman Empire one of the greatest empires of all time and he has a little book that he wrote it’s still available today called “Meditations” and it’s basically Marcus Aurelius giving you insight into how he governed, how he lived, how we controlled the thoughts, how he tried to be happy, how he dealt with his people and how he maintained virtue. And so we’ll talking about these ancient Stoics throughout today's episode. But the first one I want to start with is Epictetus, because we’re talking about how you can be your best self. Epictetus says, “how long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself”. “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself” anther ways it says it is first say to yourself what would you be and then do what you have to do”.
Thomas Alvord: (05:28) And it is a great question Zach because really how long are you, am I going to wait to demand the best of our self I think often in our contemporary life we gravitate towards pleasure I mean who doesn't right but it's the trials and the difficulties that force us to refine ourselves, but when are we going to stop and not because of external stimuli, but from ourselves demand our very best, and really that's what Stoicism invites us and causes us to think about.
Zach Smith: (06:10) When I hear the phrase a lot of times I was talking to you about this couple of days ago as well Thomas as you might recall I sometimes think of procrastination, how much easier is it to say “well I’ve worked today I’ve put in my 9-to-5 but I probably should go to the gym, but there's good TV show on tonight, so I'm not going to take care my body I'm going to go home and watch the TV show or I’d probably should eat a little healthier but man there's a lot of ice-cream and this is really good” and again it’s not saying that you need to indulge, but for me it's about procrastination and making the wrong decision when you know what the right decision is. I have a maxim that I live by and I believe I did coin this phrase and I say “it's not hard to do what's right”, what's hard is when we waiver between doing what we know is right, and ultimately make the wrong-decision and I think that gets to the heart of Epictetus's question “how long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself because you know what the best result is”.
Thomas Alvord: (07:11) That’s interesting Zach, so what you're saying if I understand correctly the difficulty is not in the doing, it in the deciding.
Zach Smith: (07:20) And as I read Epictetus again Thomas, demand, he is like you have to demand it of yourself because you know what and if I don't use a more decisive word then you’re going to procrastinate, then you're not going to do it, so you demand it
Thomas Alvord: (07:31) It reminds me something I’ve told my wife before, I tell her “look, it's easier to do something a 100% of the time than 99% of the time” even though 99% of the time is less it actually is much easier 100% it’s actually probably much easier a 100% of the time than 50% of the time, because you’re not having to make that decision that's just what you are, it’s just what you do, you demanded it.
Zach Smith: (07:56) Thomas I'm going to go out on a limb here and see if we’re on the same wavelength because I think we are, “scripture memorizing”, “home memorizing”, “quote memorizing” if you skip one day, “hey, I could skip a day and catch up tomorrow” versus just doing it every day. Yes or no?
Thomas Alvord: (08:14) Oh! Absolutely
Zach Smith: (08:14) Yes, I’ve noticed that too, if I just do it, it's so much better than if I like “I've only get 10 to do today to recap and memorize I can get it tomorrow I’ll only have 15 or 20” I found when I have that mindset versus just demanding that I do it I have much better success with memorizing for our goals if you remember our goal setting episode.
Thomas Alvord: (08:35) Yes, absolutely. Once you start doing it becomes a habit which also we discussed in the goal setting.
Zach Smith: (08:41) That's true too, I mean it takes seven days, 14 days to build a habit and so by developing a mindset well, “I don’t need to do it today, I don’t need to go to the gym today, this came up or this came up or this came up”. What we said about goal setting is “you do not change your goals, you may change the strategy to get your goals but your goals don't change, it's funny” I had only done one date night with my wife which is sad it’s pathetic really right? But because we thought about it and because we have those weekly reviews just today we found a way, today is the 28th of February you’re listening, as we’re recording it and we will have the date night today. It's just amazing how when we demand that we have to make our goals happen, and it seems like our lives got too busier whatever else got in the way, if you demand the best for yourself, if you demand it, you're going to achieve all your goals no matter what, you can well them into exist and see when they are seen impossible and in this case that’s exactly what happened with our date night, now it's happening tonight.
Thomas Alvord: (09:40) What I like Zach about sports and high-achievers is it gives us a window into individual performance that we can see and appreciate. If you demand of your best self that you are going to read X number of books that's hard to see or to quantify, but if you have a basketball player who scoring X number of points, it's easier to see. And I used to think that the best players had the best latent talent and I think there's something to talent without a doubt, but as I've seen the most successful people, it's because they’ve demanded it of themselves. They’ll go practice four or five hours when everybody else is home they demand it and maybe that’s driven from a desire but they demand it, it's like what's the boxer quote that that we were just talking about the other day?
Zach Smith: (10:35) Ali?
Thomas Alvord: (10:35) Yes.
Zach Smith: (10:36) I love Muhammad Ali’s quote, Ali probably the greatest boxer of all time how does he say it “I hated every minute of training, but I thought to myself, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”.
Thomas Alvord: (10:49) Hey what was so interesting I shared that with my wife and she said “that's weird he didn't like it, usually if you're doing something you like it” and I thought yes, that is weird, and then I realized my goodness he trained so hard, he trained at a level because I grew up playing sports and competitive club soccer, but trained at such a level that was beyond probably anything I was even approaching where his training like he said “hey how many setups do you have or do you do?” and he said “I don't know, I don't start counting until it hurts” right. He is somebody who demanded of himself.
Zack Smith: (11:26) That's why he hated it that's interesting. He probably would have liked it if he just said “I'm going to do 100 sit-ups today” but he hated it because look at our hard he went that’s a good perspective on it.
Thomas Alvord: (11:34) He didn’t go to practice to just I'm going to use a soccer analogy because that's what I'm used to “hey, I'm just going to go kick the ball around, it’s fun to play soccer, the guy will cross, and I’ll try to do a scissor kick or bicycle kick” and no it's like no what I need to improve and I'm going to do that, even if it's misery, I don't care, I'm going to demand it of myself and he became the greatest right? So we have to demand the best of ourselves that Stoicism.
Zach Smith: (11:56) Last one on be your best self and this one kind of hits it home because we always we talked about judging and we talked about comparison, well how do you deal with that the wisest advice I've ever seen come from Plato he puts it this way, “when men or women speak ill of thee, live so that no one will believe them” that’s I think for a sec.
Thomas Alvord: (12:20) And that really is striving to be your best self and I realize it also relates to the third topic we’ll get to, which is to control what we have control over, control the controllable.
Zach Smith: (12:32) It’s funny you say that too, because I thought the same thing as you made that tie in Thomas.
Thomas Alvord: (12:36) Because you can't influence or change or control what men speak of you, but you can have control over how you live. So just focus on what you have control over and live so no one will believe him that's powerful.
Zach Smith: (12:52) I've seen this happen with different people where somebody will say Well this guys is this and this” and you’ll see someone in the audience, “Oh, that’s interesting, I've never really seen him that way, are you sure?” and they started questioning and that’s the beginning of knowing that you are living the way that no one will believe what other people gossip or talk bad about you, and I think that’s a very, very powerful thing, it's something I have to practice and think about all the time because of my public persona, because of this podcast alone and all the different things that we teach you worry that by saying these things and talking too much and not listening enough that you become hypocritical and of course that isn’t our intention, and so for me I think about what Plato's says here often it's constantly on my mind because I want to do I want to live up to that max, and I want to live my life in a way so that while there may be lots of people who feel the certain way about me. But people who really matter will never believe them because they know who I am.
Thomas Alvord: (13:46) And to do that, you strive to be your best self and that I would say it’s one of many different tenants or ideas or principles that Stoicism have that Stoicism espouses, moving on to the next topic which is a beautiful subject and idea which is this idea to curb your desires.
Zach Smith: (14:08) Because our argument on being your best self is that we kind of know what we need to do, well then how do we get it a little bit more concrete. Well we believe that to become your best self, you have to curb your desires. We talked about this quite a bit in the last episode if you didn’t have a chance to listen to that one Episode 21 give it a listen, in that episode, we talked about how if we do not curb our desires, we can make our needs, wants. There's an example that I didn't share that I’ll now with you, you might think you need a house you could easily rent and you'd be perfectly fine, but when you need a house or you want to house when you own a house of you don’t pay cash for it or even if you do, you suddenly have certain things that you need to deal with. Most importantly, if you don't pay cash it’s a mortgage so suddenly this want of the house becomes a need to pay a mortgage. So by curbing your desire whether you want a house or not, you in essence have changed your needs and reduced your needs and lived more minimalistically like Thomas was talking about and it's one way we believe that you can become your best self. Epictetus put it this way, “Curb your desire don't set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need”.
Thomas Alvord: (15:30) There's another phrase, this isn’t necessarily from Stoicism, but it goes along with this, and some of the ideas we spoke about last week on the podcast. This is from the book “The Richest Man in Babylon” and it's been a while quite a time to be 10 years since I read the book but one of the phrases that stood out to me is that “Our wants are insatiable, we can never satiate them, we can never satisfy our wants it doesn't matter because once you satisfy your current wants you will have more you’ll have bigger ones, you’ll have different ones. You will always have wants, and you can never get rid of them and your capacity to consume in terms of finances, say or passion or whatever is not unlimited, so you have to learn to curb your desires”. It's interesting right? Imagine if you could go back to ancient Greece and talk with Plato and with the philosophers sitting on the steps as you are saying right? How much of a different conversation that is than you would get in contemporary society today which is kind of ironic right we’re a marketing company and we run marketing telling people “hey, buy this” right? So it's almost ironic we are talking about this at the end of the day it's something we all need to learn to do and it's something I think everybody does but it's how well do you do it, and how effectively or how much has that been perfected.
Zach Smith: (17:07) Quoting your “Richest Man in Babylon”, and this might have been the train of thought you were going on as well but he puts it this way, “what each person calls their necessary expenses will always grow to match their income unless they resist the urge, do to not confuse your necessary expenses with your desires”
Thomas Alvord: (17:22) And who said that?
Zach Smith: (17:23) This is from Richest man in Babylon.
Thomas Alvord: (17:25) Oh okay.
Zach Smith: (17:26) And I like that necessary expenses in fact, he put in quotation marks the start because what is actually necessary expenses it helps you realize that really, hardly anything in our life is a necessary expense it only becomes a necessary expense when we mix up what we really need with what we desire “blur that line between needs and wants”.
Thomas Alvord: (17:51) I think as well, it's not just financial but whatever our desires might be right it expands beyond consumption and finances, but curbing in those desires. Epicurus, here's another quote he said “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not”.
Zach Smith: (18:11) Think of your garage I mean you originally wanted a two-car garage and then essentially you spoiled it by saying “I wish I would have three or a four or five now” and it’s not as good now and it’s what you originally wanted.
Thomas Alvord: (18:22) Yes and he continued, “remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for”, and this kind of goes back also to last week’s episode about perspective we got to remember that yes if I look right now at everything I have, I could have only dreamed of having all of this and thinking if, I have that I would be set for life. It would be amazing and now people ask me “Oh, are you going to retire” I say “no, I can’t retire, I got to keep working”, not that I have any data or anything but it’s like “no I want to keep working, there's these opportunities or other things I want to buy down the road in the future potentially” and what he is saying right here is a masterpiece of a philosophy.
Zach Smith: (19:07) Absolutely, one more philosopher that we haven't quoted yet this is Seneca, Seneca thought a lot of the same things that Jesus taught Jesus said “get the beam out of your own eye before you get the mote out of your neighbors” and Seneca said “you're trying the pop the pimple on your neighbor when you’re covered in sores yourself”. They had a lot of similar phrases like that this is what Seneca wrote with regards to curbing your desires though he says “no person has the power to have everything they want no person, but it is in their power not to want what they don't have and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have” these Stoics and he is ancient philosopher sometimes you just read it and you are like, that's good enough there's nothing else that needs to be said about that, and we feel like we kind of got a couple of the zingers in this episode today. That's kind of how I feel about this quote, “No person has a power to have everything they want but it’s in their power not to want, what they don't have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do”.
Thomas Alvord: (20:04) Now, I want to step back real quick, I love these quote they are beautiful, the powerful In some of our past episodes, for example, with 80:20 Principle right, what are you focusing your time and attention on that 20% of effort that will give you 80% of your output because I think some people might be like “what the heck is this have to do with crowdfunding, with business like this is just philosophical”. Let me give an example why think this is interesting, it's an analogy of parallel principle if you look at people and I've seen this who go and trade the stock market, they may spend 40 hours a week or more studying, analyzing, trading etcetera and at the end of the day they may have wasted more time and had a poor return than if they had just put their money in an Index. So this idea that less is more, you would have had more if you traded less, you would have had more time if you spent less time working on it and the results would've been the same or even better. In business and investment, you have to think like that it's interesting right, are there things we do that actually waste our time, waste our energy that are counterproductive, but we still spend our time on it. We could pursue our whole life for things that we want, and at the end of the day we might never have it or it will spoil what we already had, but really the real power is to not want what we don't have and to think, “is this something I should even pursue, is this something I should even desire” and see if maybe that's what you should change before even though pursue something. And I think that applies same with business.
Zach Smith: (22:05) That’s such a good question it goes with the pause and reflect we talked about last episode as well where “do I really need this?” and if we give ourselves time to pause and reflect a lot of times the answer ends up being “no, I don’t.”
Thomas Alvord: (22:12) Well it goes back to what you said Zach, that it's not in the doing that's difficult, it's in the deciding that's difficult, and I also think the most important thing we do is actually not doing but actually deciding, the decisions we make are far more substantial and can have such a bigger impact now of course once we make a decision, we need a working go and do it, but it’s those decisions it's how we approach things and that's the beauty of Stoicism it gives you a framework to look at things and to ask questions about yourself and what you want? What you want to be, to really fine-tune what matters?
Zach Smith: (22:53) I love what you said about decisions Thomas too, decision-making being what can we say no to we don’t necessarily think about that as much, but time is the only thing we all kind of had no control of, it goes and goes and goes we can only decide what we want to do with the time that we have and we need to look for opportunities to limit the time we give to certain things and increase the time we give to others and that goes back to decision-making which like you said is the most important thing. What we decide to do matters and we spend our time on, time the only thing we have is what ultimately determines our destiny.
Thomas Alvord: (23:29) And I think so often life just happens instead of us, consciously saying “here's what I want to do, even in my personal day”, I feel if I don’t start my day and say “here's my to do list” and then I am conscientious, intentional and purposeful about what I'm doing if I start late and then I have some call I need to be on then literally I feel like the day just happens to me and I don't execute on the day I'm just kind of responding to everything happening.
Zach Smith: (23:58) The whole idea of acting or being acted upon and it's funny you touch on that point this reminds me of morning routine again from our episode on Goal Setting I have to constantly go back in and fix my morning routine, not the routine that I do, because those are the things I want to do they are the part that allows me to act on the day to seize the day. But to change the things around me to allow me to be able to have a productive morning so that I can’t seize the day, so that the rest of my day is under my control and I can at least control the things that I want to control that I need to control and just last week I updated my calendar so that I can only be booked for certain periods of time throughout different days of the week, so that my day is my day and not somebody else's day and I think that leads us perfectly Thomas into the last topic we want talk about today, which is “what we can do today is all that matters? We need to control the controllables as the Stoics might like to say”.
Thomas Alvord: (24:57) When you have the dance of death right maybe you could share but what that is.
Zach Smith: (25:04) Okay so you might think I'm a little crazy, you might think I'm a little strange or maybe you have practiced like this I've kind of embraced Stoicism in a few different ways A couple things I do. The ancient Romans and the Stoics and the Greeks for the most part they would do certain things to remember, things that they never wanted to forget. Similar to today how we post quotes on Facebook and Instagram that are inspirational they would carry momentous, one of the momentous they focused on more than anything and we’ll get to the dance of death momentarily, they would focus on death and they had a phrase called “Memento Mori” - I think it's Mori right for the Latin and its “remember you will die” that’s the ancient tradition of reflecting on mortality, now it might sound more morbid, but used properly its invigorating, it can be a tool that creates priority and urgency, it helps us remember that we need to treat time as a gift and make it not trivial. So that goes to the “Dance of Death”, now the “Dance of Death” is very interesting and will post a picture to this so you can look at it in the show notes as well but I'll try to describe it you as very best I can. This is it's a picture of an interpretation of a French painter's name was Philippe de Champagne 17th Century and it's called in fact I forget exactly what it’s called, but it is a skeleton with a cross bow so and the picture is mounted at eye level and when and it's looking at you and the skeleton is kind of got a creepy little grin on his face and the crossbow is loaded and there's an hourglass symbolizing time at the skeleton’s foot at his feet and then he also got a quiver with another arrow ready to go if he misses you with the first one, and it’s ancient French and my French is terrible, so I'm not even going to try to pronounce it for you but I will give you the translation, and this was found in an ancient castle or in an ancient home and it was a manuscript I believe and it was mounted again like I said at eye level and this is what it says “My arrow, I promise you Spares no one, you will all dance the ballet of which I sing”, and here's what I kind of like thought about it as I was reading. “It's a fantastic and haunting Memento Mori why do I keep saying that wrong, Memento Mori, for remember that you’ll die, right as you talked about earlier. If you’ve seen the movie “Gladiator”, it calls to mind the quote “Dead smiles at every man, and all the man can do is smile back”. This arrow spares no one it's a piece of art designed to hang at eye level so that the arrow the one locked and loaded in the crossbow was pointed directly at the person and more than art again this was a practice, Thomas, the Dance of Death “Danse de la mort” there you go that was terrible French and wasn't just a generalized response to mortality that’s why the skeleton is grainy the symbolism is dark but it's absurd, like life and death. We are born to die it can come and take us at any time, for the most ridiculous of reasons. I practice this now because I want to wake up every day and to see this picture so I remember to live my life with urgency and the absurdity part of it again the idea behind that there was this famous Stoic I forget his name he was a diehard Stoic in every single way. Well one day he sitting on his porch in his home and he is looking at a donkey and the donkey is eating figs and he starts laughing uncontrollably and he dies and that the absurdity. We have no control over how we live or die for the most part. We have to control we can control and realize the absurdity of the situation that we are in and seize the say as much as we possibly can, and take it with optimism rather than pessimism, and again I'm a huge fan of these practices of Memento Mori because I believe that it helps remind us because we’re constantly forgetting we’re constantly making mistakes, we’re constantly being lazy, we’re procrastinating and so if you see that and if you feel that then it helps to inspire you to get to a better place that. I think for the last couple years that I’ve been practicing this it’s helped me have a much better life than I ever had before, and it also to get out of slumps that we all tend to face.
Thomas Alvord: (29:31) That's really interesting because you basically are putting value in life by reminding yourself of death, it’s kind of counterintuitive and oxymoron almost. It reminds me of what Churchill said once I think it was a “pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity through every difficulty”, so it's still the same thing here is difficulty but how are you going to see it. I wonder if we could almost say “a Stoic would recognize or see the difficulties and opportunities are one and the same there is no different a difficulty is an opportunity and an opportunity is difficulty and therefore a Stoic would see no difference between them and you basically realize that everything is an opportunity because if something horrible happens it's an opportunity. And the reality is okay and it's about living in the present right actually it’s kind of a new age type spiritualism if you will almost without being present and maybe not spiritualism, but we were so distracted from our devices right we’re not really present in the moment, and Stoicism was all about, all you can do is what you can do today, don't worry about yesterday, don't worry about the future like you don't have control over those just live in the present today.
Zack Smith: (31:00) Seneca gave some reassurance, “we are more often frightened than hurt and we suffer more in imagination than in reality”. “why is that why do we worry about so many things that never happened and by doing so we call ourselves more grief and suffering”, and like I said I kind of believe in the whole manifesting your own destiny concept as crazy that might sound and by thinking about all these terrible things that happened I believe they're more likely to happen simply because our thoughts control so much, control the things you can control.
Thomas Alvord: (31:33) And don't worry about the things that you don't know about or that haven't happened it's amazing we suffer more in imagination than in reality, I look at myself and sometimes when I get upset and I think often if there's a conflict or a dispute you get all hot in the head and in your mind upset at somebody and you create this argument back and forth and you don't even know what they're going to say, and that's also why I think sometimes talking with you or roleplaying and I might get more heated or whatever as we need to go resolve some issue and then we go to resolve it and then I'm not like that right because I go with you a lot softer well it’s because you're not living in some imagination, you're living in reality and that usually is actually not as bad as the imagination.
Zach Smith: (32:25) And it's funny you talk about role-playing I was actually having the same thought with regards to this as well. What we can do because these thoughts are natural, this is going to happen to all of us when they do happen, the best thing to do is to role-play because now you have control over that situation and you can plan at all those imaginations in your mind and act them out and go down that line of thinking and play out every possible scenario imaginable. The Stoics actually did this they would have in their mind, shipwreck, heartbreak, death, failure all these terrible things that could happened and it would be constantly on their mind so that they wouldn’t worry about them because so they just realize these are possibilities and we’re considering them and nothing more. They don’t let those things happen because they can't control them if they do, their ship gets wrecked there is a not a lot they can do if a storm comes out of nowhere and takes them down. If we have something terrible happen in our life, a lot of times there's nothing we can do. We can plan for them, we can think about them and that makes us so we don't have to imagine and worry about like Thomas and I said we do quite a bit of that when we’re trying to resolve something that we think is going to be difficult and like you said “more often they are not” in fact I’d I probably say “always” maybe you and I are just so pessimistic and cynical and negative, I don't know Thomas but always our role-plays are more combative, more aggressive, more terrible than the real situation ends up being.
Thomas Alvord: (33:38) Without even thinking in terms of Stoicism because you and I are similar and in some regards for example, when we both bought our houses, we didn’t want to go into any debt, we didn’t want to have any of that risk or to overextend ourselves. In a way we were looking at it, I was looking at it, saying “I don't want to assume this because I don't know what happens if everything tumbles, what happens if the market crashes” and not in a pessimist way but thinking I don't know what's going to happen, I can only control what I have control over, so I don't want to overextend myself. If I knew that my trajectory is going to continue, the market is going to continue “It's like okay yes, there's no risk” It's actually kind of ironic too that part of Stoicism is I'm going to live today, because that's all that I have control over, yet at the same time, you still look forward to the future and not to let it worry you but just realize here's the outcomes that could happen just so your mind prepared, and if it happens “Yes, I knew that would happen”.
Zach Smith: (34:41) If we want to bring this more modern day, everybody talks about the classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, it might be the most quoted book I've ever seen, anytime someone says “What's the best that you’ve ever read?” That one seems to pop up on the list. Here is one you probably haven't read, it’s actually just as good it's called “How to stop worrying and start living” and it’s by the same author Dale Carnegie. My favorite part of the book is actually on this topic we’re touching on right now and here's what he says to do, how to stop worrying and start living. “Ask yourself what's the worst that could possibly happen and go through it, line by line by line by line whatever it may be like get to the actual route of the matter, what's the worst it can happen this lets you to Tom’s example the stock market goes down and I have some money invested okay? Does it ever rebound?” “No, never rebounds”, okay. “How much of my money is in their?” “Well 30%” okay. “Am I fine losing 30%?” “Well, that would do this, this and this”. Okay great and you get all the way down to the very end and then you ask yourself the second question “Can I accept this?” and if the answer is yes, wonderful. Don't worry and if the answer is no, fortunately you’ve gone through that thought process and you can change it and you can make the worst-case scenario acceptable to you whatever acceptable ends up being. It’s a great exercise and I do it all the time every time I make a decision that frightens me I go through this and I'm no longer frightened by the end.
Thomas Alvord: (36:04) That's really good I haven’t heard of that, I’m going to have to do that next time.
Zach Smith: (36:10) Yes it’s a great book, lot of people haven't heard that because everybody reads “how to win friends and influence people” and really you probably should learn “how to stop worrying before you try to get friends”. Seneca put it this way, “what is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster”. This is a reason for ensuring that nothing ever takes us by surprise. He might've been the one that said “shipwreck, heartbreak” and all those things I forget I’d have to look that up a post I’ll post it in the show notes for everybody “We should project our thoughts ahead of us at every turn” I love that project our thoughts ahead of us and have in mind every possible eventuality instead of only the usual course of events.
Thomas Alvord: (36:48) When I think the takeaway is you need to be prepared right in be planning for anything and you’ll never be surprised or scared about your future. Whatever ever happens “’Yes, might realize that could happen okay this has happened now”.
Zach Smith: (36:58) And guess what, as you practice this you get even better, so eventually you are like worrying about stuff that people haven't even considered who’d never follow this practice before. The things I'm worried about are like building a house, I'm like “do I need earthquake insurance or not” and most people might not even get there right like you get to a level of thinking and thinking and analyzing such that the things that you're worried and thinking about other people haven’t even consider and by having the foresight you tend to essentially look like you're predicting the future, it’s a very powerful thing you are not predicting the future but because you’ve thought so much more about every possible outcome and nobody else is given at any time a thought because everybody just acting impulsively for the most part you significantly increase your advantage over everybody else, and it’s not even close.
Thomas Alvord: (37:45) Here is another quote Zach, that Epictetus has shared which I really like. He said “Don't seek for things to happen the way you want them to, rather wish that what happens happen the way it happens, then you'll be happy” If you are so desirous that something happens in a certain way and it doesn't what happens, you are so frustrated. But if your mentality, if your heart, if your mind is always however it happens, that's what I want to have happen then whatever happens you are like “great, it happened how I wanted it to happen”, and then you can't really get frustrated and I don't think also he's talking about things that you have control over right, he is not saying “just be lazy” because Stoicism is all about what you have control over have control over it be your best self, curb your desires or in other principles that they share, but the things that are outside of your control just desire it to happen, however it happens because at the end of the day you have no control over it, so why even worry about it. Just wish “hey, however it happens, that's how it will happen” and that’s it is.
Zach Smith: (38:57) Relaxing a little bit religious for a bit on the Christian side of things I think about Jesus and I think about not “My Will but Thy Will” as he's praying and he realizes it's his only chance that he can kind of control his destiny if he wants to but he’s willing to accept whatever it is that could happen the classic Sermon on the Mount everybody thinks “Judge not, that ye be not judged” and that's probably the most quoted Scripture of all time but the very last verse in Matthew 6 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself, Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I've read that verse 100 times I never really knew what it meant. I finally decided it look up and Thomas and I had a conversation on it last night a little bit and I wrote this to him in a text I said “I think I finally get it a little bit” because we were talking about Stoicism and I said “It's about controlling what we can control and we can only control each given day and nothing more”, so “why are we to take thought for tomorrow when we don't even know if there will be a tomorrow”. I think that's what we’re trying to get at here. When we talk about controlling what we can control and embracing what happens to us, but taking action and making things happen as much as is possible within our own control.
Thomas Alvord: (40:12) And these things we’ve talked about Zach really are just a dabbling in Stoicism I mean, there's books and books and books on so many of the different Philosophers that I think gives such unique and useful insight into how to live life, how to think about life, how to approach life and not just life for business and what you're pursuing in relationships, that it empowers you to live a fuller life, a richer life.
Zach Smith: (40:41) And what I love, these are 2,000, 3,000 perhaps even longer-year-old principles and so they stood the test of time, when we still read these quotes and they resonate with us today there is meaning behind that a lot of the greatest wisdom of all time is readily available for you we’re not saying you need to quit everything you're doing and become a Stoic, I don’t even practice that. I think it's something that you can add to what you currently believe or tweak some of the existing negativity in your life and by adding these elements and by adding this way of thinking, you can truly become a better version of yourself and be happier which is really what the goal of entrepreneurship and business and just living is like this anyway, it's to find and enjoy as much happiness as you possibly can while helping others experience happiness along the way.
Thomas Alvord: (41:27) And I remember just maybe a month or two ago there was some issue that happened at Funded Today with some of our team members and we couldn’t really find a resolution, and I said, “It is what it is” and I say that often, and I know some people misunderstood me, and thought “Oh, Thomas doesn't freaking care at all” look, he is just saying no dude just - “who cares”, I think that’s how they interpreted it. I was saying, “look, it is what it is, I can't reverse the clock, I have no control over it, so it is what it is we learn from it, we see what we can modify or change and we move forward” and that's really what it's about, what do you have control over, worry about that and nothing else because why should you worry about anything else it will just cause you to be stressed and probably die sooner and live in the present day, “Curb your Desires, and be the best that you can be”.
Zach Smith: (42:23) Carpe diem “live each day to its fullest because you’ll never know what's going to happen tomorrow” Thanks for listening, that is our episode and now for perhaps our favorite part of the episode we always love showcasing the wonderful products that our creators bring to life and we got a couple good ones for you today. Mine for the Funded Today product of the week, is “Smart Garden” “Smart Garden” is this nifty little garden with compartmentalized trays, where you can literally grow your own garden, and its unique to some of those hydroponic things and other inventions already out there, in that they focus on sprouts and small greens items that are packed full of nutrition but grow 24/7 we are talking beans and sprouts and lagoons and all these wonderful things and because of the technology that “Smart Garden” has created you are harvesting daily and talking about controlling the things you can’t control how cool would it be if you able to grow some of your own food. I think Smart Garden is a perfect product of the week for today's episode.
Thomas Alvord: (43:29) My product of the week is actually absolutely awesome, it's called “Fly Smart Fly Free” it's an electric motorcycle so just like you got electric cars these days it's an electric motorcycle. The way it works is there's a couple of different designs and layouts so you can customize the look, the feel if your eco-conscience and like to be green and even if you don't like this is something I saw it’s about $3,000 or $4,000 so you should just check it out. Again we just talked about “Curbing your Desires” right, so go check this out and make your desire increase for this you might salivate a little bit but this is actually really cool I would get one I would need to talk with my wife because my wife is always like “You can’t get a motorcycle, I want you to die” so I have it but this is something that’s totally awesome so check it out this one is called “Fly Smart Fly Free” and the link is in the show notes, of course.
Zach Smith: (44:32) Excellent, well there you have it that is Zach and Thomas’s Take and Basic Introduction on Stoicism we hope it gives you some more confidence to live your very best life right now. And next time we’re going back to brass tacks [ph] continuing on our series of “Life after Crowdfunding” this one is called “How to exploit Amazon Intelligence” to launch a better business. We think you are going to love it you’re going to find it fascinating with all kinds of actionable tips you are going to be able to put in place right away. We’ll see you next Wednesday, Funded Today nation and remember as always don’t want until tomorrow, get Funded Today.
Announcer: (45:11) Funded Today is the worldwide leader in Rewards Based Crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, combined they have raised over $200 million and counting for thousands of new ideas and inventions worldwide, if you got an idea for a new product or invention visit www.fundedtoday.com to speak with one of their experts.
References and Resources
- Wikipedia: Stoicism
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