Meditate on these quotes every day

Picture credits: The Daily Stoic

Stoic philosophy is a very practical philosophy. Many stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus had spoken of some of the ultimate truths of life. They were not gods. They were common people like us with responsibilities at home and workplace. They had families to look after. They had jobs to do to. They had adversities and challenges to face. In the middle of all this they did not stop being philosophers. They did not stop working on themselves. It was only when they were striving for mental clarity, peace and self improvement did they reveal some beautiful words which still survive today- more than 2,000 years later. 

1. “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”– Seneca

Stoic philosophers believed events are objective. They are ‘what they are’. If someone has ridiculed us on social media then it is an objective reality: it is what it is. We cannot go back in time and change it. But how we choose to look at those events will eventually decide how we are going to feel about them. In other words, our subjectivity or perception is going to determine how we feel about that particular event. How we are going to react to that ridiculous comment someone has made against us on social media is either going to make our day or break our day. A lot of times things are not that bad. Our judgement make them. Therefore it is of great importance that we work on improving our perspective. A lot is at stake when we do not have a favorable perception.

2. “Why should we feel anger at the world? As if the world would notice?”- Marcus Aurelius

Every time I read this, I feel a little different. We are not always angry at ourselves. Majority of the times we are angry at the world; at people- for not being kind enough, for not being honest enough with their jobs, for not being understanding enough, for not being like us. It is a big mistake to expect the world to work as per our preferences. People are not going to be like us: they do not care much if they are being greedy or not, they do not care if they are efficient at their jobs or not, they do not care about your expectations. They are just carrying on with their lives just the way you are.  Then what is the point in punishing yourself for someone else’s mistakes. Why are you angry? Why you? Do you think they care? Do you think they are noticing your anger? Do you believe they are going to come console you? NO. NO and NO. We can influence people. We can make a difference in this world. But we cannot do it for everyone.

3. “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

We all dread mornings because we have to go to work, we have to do household chores; we have to think of innumerable tasks on to-do list. In the middle of all the responsibilities we forget what a privilege it is to be able to breathe; to be alive. We forget it is a new day to correct our past mistakes. We forget it is a new day to make our plans again. We forget we have another day to care deeply about the people we love. This is what Marcus Aurelius said. He wanted us to make time for gratitude. If we are focused too much upon what we don’t have, we will never be able to enjoy what we already have. This is what gratitude teaches us. Strive for better but also enjoy what’s already there.

4. “You have to assemble your life yourself – action by action.”- Marcus Aurelius

Life is never build instantly. There is no magic formula to build our lives quickly. Everything is done brick by brick. In other words, one step at a time. Human beings are very impatient. We expect instant results with little time and hard work. We do our work on a daily basis and feel like we are not getting anywhere, like we are stuck. I am most certain it happens with everybody.  Every day progress doesn’t seem to matter a lot because we don’t get to see any changes. But in reality, we get better. We make progress. Like Marcus Aurelius said we have to assemble our lives action by action. Act once. Then act again. Act once more. Keep doing your work. You will definitely get there.

Quotes that make complete sense to me NOW- Part 2

Picture credits: badbooksgoodtimes.com

(This post is a continuation of my previous post).

Quote 4:Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’”- Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl was a prisoner at one of the concentration camps during the Second World War. His one of the most influential books of all time “Man’s search for meaning” has this beautiful line. Mr Frankl had a ‘why’ to live for and that’s exactly what made him come alive out of the horrendous conditions he was living in which are beyond our imagination.

What Mr Frankl had said decades ago is very true. In life, we all need a purpose– purpose can be anything like helping poor children with education, being emotionally supportive of our close friends & family, not taking undue advantage of anyone, curing people who are suffering from different ailments, etc. It doesn’t matter how big or small our purposes are as long as we have one. It’s what keeps us going when we have no reason to do so. We can overcome any obstacle of life if we are determined to live a life and not waste it. So, have a ‘why’ everyday and you will figure out the ‘how’.

Quote 5: “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Every time I read this quote I have a mind bending experience. It is very common among humans to project their fears and insecurities. We all do it and saying that we don’t is one the worst lies of all time. It’s our defense mechanism. A lot of times it happens that we are criticized by the people around us whenever we are set to do something. If it’s not criticism then at least a little of discouragement is there for sure. Such people are the ones who don’t hear the music as referred to by Nietzsche. And he’s right. It’s one thing to show someone the right path and prevent them from making a mistake. But it’s another thing to call them insane or mad just because we can’t listen to the same music they are listening to. We all have our preferences. We all have our perceptions towards life. And bringing down their morale just because we don’t understand them well enough isn’t the right way to live a life.

Quote 6: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”- Mark Twain

Anger is one of the most common emotions experienced by humans. When things aren’t as per our expectations we express anger. Sometimes it is okay to be angry because we are humans after all. But many times it is more of an enemy than a friend or companion. I am not going to deny the fact that I struggle with the implications of my anger. I have known this for a very long time. On the other hand, I am glad that I know my problem and trying my level best every day to resolve it. When I first read these words by Mark Twain I knew in that immediate moment that nothing has been more apt for me regarding anger. It gave me such a strong explanation for why I should try to not be angry a lot of times for the reasons I have no control over. When we are angry at someone or something we are eventually harming ourselves because it is our liberty that gets taken away from us. Not the others. It’ like we are punishing ourselves for someone else’s mistakes. So, the next time you are getting really angry for no good reason tell yourself that the acid is destroying no one or nothing but you. Just You.

Quotes that make complete sense to me NOW- Part 1

Picture credits: badbooksgoodtimes.com

We all need motivation to carry ourselves forward. Sometimes we get motivated after reading a good book. Sometimes ‘people’ inspire us & we are motivated. And sometimes our inspiration is a mind blowing quote by a mind blowing person. However, motivation recedes with time. A quote which makes us feel like we are now a completely different person (after reading it) doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It’s like we have forgotten the lesson.

I read quotes- a lot of them. It’s not like I deliberately look for motivational quotes to keep myself inspired enough to lead a good life. There are many quotes that felt amazing to me in the past but they didn’t make much sense. But now when I look back and read them I feel like they are the ultimate truths of life. Thankfully, I am also putting their underlying lessons into practice every day.

Quote 1:The things you own end up owning you.”- Chuck Palahniuk

I came across this amazing quote while watching a movie “Fight Club”. When I first read it I felt it was so great that I was going to live by it. But the reality is that I didn’t quite understand it until a week ago something went wrong with one of my possessions. Nothing was serious but considering my perfectionism the fact that something wasn’t 100% okay with my possession kept circling around in my mind. That was the moment when I realized how true the quote is. I own that possession. I have its ownership and it is good that I own it. I am getting so many benefits because of it. However, there’s another side to it. And that side says when we own something- anything- it comes back to owning us. My possession started taking control over me as I was a little worried. It had such a firm hold over me that until it got fixed I wasn’t completely relaxed.

It happens in everyone’s life and this is exactly why it is important that we are careful when it comes to owning material stuff. The more we own the more we will be losing our sense of freedom and liberty. Be careful what you wish for!!

Quote 2:You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”- Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was never someone I looked up to for inspiration in my life. It was only when I hit the rock bottom that I understood how truthful he was about life and everything that happens with it. He said we can never connect the dots looking forward; into the future. Rather we can only make sense of things when we look back into the past. I have been living by these words for almost 5 years now. Why? Because these words kept me going when I didn’t have anywhere to go.

So often it happens that we feel sad for everything that’s wrong with our lives. And that’s okay. It is okay to feel sad when the ball isn’t in our court. It is not wise to repress our emotions and not exhibit what we are feeling deep down. What’s so interesting about life, on the other hand, is that it never backs down from surprising us. Whatever is happening in our lives right now isn’t supposed to make sense. ‘Present‘ isn’t meant to make sense. Everything makes sense only when we look back- back to those moments in our past. That’s when all the dots are going to get connected. That’s when we’re going to realize why we didn’t get what we wanted, why we did get what we never wanted or why those good/bad events had happened only with us.

The next time you’re beating yourself up for something that’s happening right now or may be cursing the world for all the happenings, just tell yourself that all the dots are going to get connected soon.

Quote 3: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”- Oscar Wilde

We all talk about how we must focus on remaining who we are and never change ourselves for the world. I guess we have over-simplified this idea and people who are always talking about this idea probably have no knowledge of what ‘self’ is and merely talk about it for the sake of a conversation. Being ourselves isn’t an easy job. Personally it took me time to realize it. Being ourselves demand a lot of courage, self-discipline, tenacity, smartness and hard work. There’s going to be a lot of criticism but if we take the time to filter out bad ones from the good ones then we’re surely on the path of being ourselves.

It is not right to change ourselves into something we were never meant to be. It is not right to stop chasing our goals and ambitions just because someone is projecting his/her fears through us. We shouldn’t focus too much on everything the other person is. Rather focus on everything that we are because there are around 7 billion people on this earth and everyone is here to do his/her job and not waste time in imitating each other.

There’s always some scope to improve ourselves and we must improve every day. But for the good reasons and not the wrong ones. When we become better each day by not losing sight of ourselves that’s when we are being ourselves. That’s what we all need!!