When I first read The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes, I learnt that “thoughts become things”; that our beliefs and thoughts manifest in our actions that lead to a corresponding result. About three months later, I read Mindset by Dr Carol Dweck. One of my key takeaways was that our mindsets strongly influence the way we perceive and act in life. In other words, our minds have the power to affect how things turn out in life for us. This amazing power is thus the central theme of my reflections from this week’s readings of The Daily Stoic.
Jun 7th – Finding the right mentors
I felt like I could relate to this one deeply ever since I revived my reading routine. The passage spoke about how easy it was for us to tap into the wisdom of those that came before us through books and other forms of literature. Ever since humans invented the printing press, accessing wisdom and knowledge couldn’t have been easier. Indeed, we are fortunate to still be able to benefit from the greatest minds in history.
Earlier this year, James Clear shared a very interesting quote that goes like this:
Reading is like a software update for your brain. Whenever you learn a new concept or idea, the ‘software’ improves. You download new features and fix old bugs. In this way, reading a good book can give you a new way to view your life experiences. Your past is fixed, but your interpretation of it can change depending on the software you use to analyze it.
It was a mind-blowing moment for me; as we upgrade our minds, we gain new strength to tackle more challenging problems. There are millions of books out there in multiple formats. For the time-starved or simply lazy, we even have businesses built around summarizing 500-page books into 15-minute short-reads! There is absolutely no excuse not to read.
Jun 8th – Brick by boring brick
When I saw the heading, I thought, “Wow Ryan Holiday is a Paramore fan!” Jokes aside, I thought this was a very contrarian piece of advice. It follows the story of Nick Saban, a coach from the University of Alabama since 2007. In a world where conventional wisdom is to “always look at the big picture” and “don’t be too fixated on the small things”, Saban’s coaching philosophy goes the other way round.
This seems to imply that thinking broadly too much in our minds only serves to plan the progress, but not actually making any. It was puzzling to me at first, but then I remembered something fitness instructors always say during workouts; it’s always about focussing on the next rep, followed by the next rep, and the next, and the next. Suddenly, it all made sense – you never hear them motivating you to “think of the whole set” ever before, right?
Jun 9th – Solve problems early
On the first read, I thought this was a no-brainer. But I thought more about it and realized that there’s actually more to this. Sometimes we notice problems, but we don’t solve them immediately for various reasons. It’s usually ok if we get back to them quickly later, but it’s not when we forget about them.
Just as the benefits from good habits compound over time, the bad ones do so as well. It helps to be more conscious and mindful of our daily practices so that we only perpetuate those that serve our goals. Left unchecked, problems might escalate into something that becomes more difficult to overcome later.
Maybe that’s why daily meditations or regular reflections work – they help our minds focus to reevaluate our actions and behaviour, highlighting what we should continue doing and what we should stop.
Jun 10th – You can do it
Overcoming complex challenges is as much of a mental game as it is a physical one. In fact, adopting the right mindset when solving problems have proven to be a game-changer for me. As I’ve shared before, the growth mindset allows us to reframe challenges as opportunities to develop our minds and bodies. With time and effort, problems that are difficult to overcome today might become manageable after we acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. That’s all it takes.
Jun 11th – Just don’t make things worse
“Don’t react for the sake of reacting. Leave it as it is. Stop digging. Then plan your way out.”RYAN HOLIDAY & STEPHAN HANSELMAN, “THE DAILY STOIC”
I’ve shared in a previous Stoic Sundays post that we should always try to have a space in our minds between stimulus and response. This space helps us to maintain rationality and objectivity, and prevents us from making impulse decisions. Emotional energy often fuels snap judgement and action, which often does not benefit the situation; sometimes, it even aggravates them.
We could do better by learning to recognize and regulate our emotions. Reacting for the sake of reacting often leads to nowhere; worst still, it might even give us a false sense of control as it makes us feel like we are doing something when we’re not. Instead, learn to expand that space in our minds, and plan for the best way to get out of whatever situation you may be in.
Jun 12th – A trained mind is better than any script
No matter how well we prepare for anything, Uncle Murphy will sometimes make surprise visits to subject us to his famous Law. At times like these, it is important that we have trained our minds to be adaptive and resilient; cultivating skills like creativity, independence, self-confidence, ingenuity, and the ability to problem-solve” contributes to our resilience. We may not have the answer to every situation, but these skills will definitely come in handy.
Jun 13th – Life is a battlefield
I like how the authors liken the journey of personal development to war here. Indeed, every day we are “fighting against impulses, fighting to be the person (we) want to be”. When it comes to goal-setting, I recently learnt that it goes beyond writing them down on paper; we must first think about how we are going to become the type of person we need to be to get there. Only when that is clear, do we then have a direction to follow and a plan to execute.
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!