May 24th – Making your own good fortune
I’ve known people who define “good luck” as an unseen force that puts them in a position that benefits them. Many of them feel that doesn’t happen by choice, or that it “just happens” unexpectedly. Personally, I feel it boils down to how we set ourselves up for success.
My take on this is that we have the freedom of choice to set ourselves up for our own good fortune. If we’ve set a goal to expand our network by consistently meeting new people, we’re more likely to meet someone significant than someone who sits around all day waiting for things to happen. If we’re constantly on the lookout for a good bargain, chances are we’ll be able to find one than someone who does nothing about it.
In other words, “being lucky” is something that is well within our control. Furthermore, the best part is that we have the power to create more of it. Indeed, we do create good fortune for ourselves.
May 25th – Where to find joy
To me, our sense of satisfaction is intricately linked to our personal identities. Our identities are often a product of choice, which in turn gives us the choice to be joyful. Everyone’s identity can differ greatly from each other, which also means that they each derive joy differently. To some, doing charity work and helping the needy brings them joy. To others, the act of de-cluttering spaces “sparks joy”. And then there are also those get a kick from making as much money as they can.
You’d think that master investors like Warren Buffett do the work they do to enjoy the lavish billionaires’ lifestyle. Truth be told, he actually cares very little of it! Robert Hagstrom quotes Buffett in The Warren Buffett Way, “It’s not that I want money. It’s the fun of making money and watching it grow.” Ultimately,
May 26th – Stop caring what people think
Here’s the cold, hard truth – We can’t control what others think about us. Period. Why do so many of us still get so hung up over the opinions of others then? While I’m guilty of this sometimes (it’s a work-in-progress), I find that this is an extremely inefficient use of brainpower.
In everything that we do, we only owe it to ourselves to do it good. We choose to do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because we get external validation from others about it. Opinions are only useful when they highlight blind spots that we might have missed, i.e. as feedback.
May 27th – Sweat the small stuff
Small and consistent efforts will lead to big results and accomplishments over time! It might take you 100 strikes to crack a piece of rock, but it’s important to realize that it did not crack only due to the 100th strike. The combined effects of the previous 99 strikes served to weaken the structural integrity of rock. While it may not be obvious, it’s influence on the end-result was slowly accumulating at the back.
This was a timely reminder for me; don’t be too hard on yourself if your results are not immediately observable. Stay the course, and have the conviction to look towards the long-term, where all the work will eventually pay dividends.
May 28th – The first two things before acting
This passage reminds me of one of the most memorable quotes I’ve ever read. It comes from Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“:
Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.Stephen R. Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
In the book, Covey describes the experience of Victor E. Frankl as he lived through Nazi Germany’s “death camps”. During his time there, he came to realize that he always had the power to choose his response, no matter what happened to his physical body. Frankl later called this “the last of the human freedoms”, which we now all know as the power of choice.
When I first read this quote in Covey’s book several years ago, something about it stuck with me. I couldn’t fully appreciate the depth of this quote until just last year when I attended a course on mindfulness. That was when “the freedom to choose” became “a space constructed from our self-awareness”.
I’d like to see that space as a safe haven for mindfulness, consideration and objectivity. We should use that space to stop and think about how our subsequent action will align with our desired identity. The more conscious we are of this, the bigger this space will be. In turn, we are more likely to be better able to choose the best response to any stimulation.
May 29th – Work is therapy
When I first saw the headline, I raised an eyebrow in disbelief. Sure, sometimes work gives me a sense of purpose and meaning. However, to some people out there, work seems more like a cause for therapy rather than therapy itself. I later realized that it actually refers to something else altogether.
The mind and body are ready to be used – they begin to turn on themselves when not put to some productive end.Ryan Holiday & Stephan Hanselman, “The Daily Stoic”
The keyword here is “productive”. To me, productive work gives me a sense of satisfaction because the work is personally meaningful. Such work can either be goal-driven or identity-driven. I also really liked how the authors condemn “indulging in the empty calories of existence”. In my interpretation, if it doesn’t mean anything to us, why do it?
May 30th – Working hard or hardly working?
I thought this passage was a continuation from the previous day – and for good measure! Note to self: being busy is not the same as being productive.
I recall a point from Mel Robbin’s audiobook, “Take Control of your Life“. In it, she explains why some people choose to be extremely busy despite knowing that it’s not getting them anywhere. According to Robbins, when an aspect of our lives is not going well, we tend to feel like we’re losing control. When this happens, some people might choose to occupy themselves with many tasks. These tasks serve as a form of escapism, in which a false sense of control can be derived. To me, these tasks can sometimes be meaningless as well, bringing us nowhere closer to any specific goal.
Perhaps the key to being productive as opposed to just being busy is a sense of purpose – What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Where does accomplishing this take us to? If we aren’t able to answer these questions, it might be better to go back to the drawing board before proceeding any further. Drop everything, take a step back, be objective and re-evaluate the situation.
How did you find this week’s interpretation of The Daily Stoic? I really hope it was insightful or informational to you! The article above is a compilation of my thoughts and feelings as I reflect on the passages in the book every morning. Do let me know in the comments below if anything resonated a lot with you! Any feedback that can help me improve my sharings are welcomed as well! Until then, see you next Sunday!