The Stoic toolkit

Recently I’ve been studying Stoicism. More accurately, I’ve been listening to “The Stoic Path” by William B. Irvine. There are anecdotes, science, explanations and some techniques. The Stoics had their own version of How To Live The Good Life. This will be an attempt to summarise the techniques.

  • Negative Visualization: A Stoic will “deal with” the things he can’t control not by worrying about them but by engaging in what I call negative visualization: he will spend time contemplating the bad things that can happen to him. He might, for example, allow himself to have a flickering thought about how much worse his life would be if he lost a loved one or friend. But he will not spend time worrying about these things, since that would be a pointless waste of time, and as the Stoic Marcus Aurelius reminds us, “Nothing is worth doing pointlessly.” #4: Are You a Born Stoic?
  • The Last Time Meditation: To last-time meditate, you periodically pause in your daily routine to reflect that no matter what your are doing, there is a chance that this is the last time you will ever do it. A last time for everything (meditation practice from William Irvine)
  • You Are Living the Dream Life / Trans life meditation / Trans person meditation: The next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself and the life you’re living, take a moment to think of (someone less fortunate than you). Trans life meditation. Periodically imagine what your life would be like if you suddenly found yourself inhabiting the life of someone who (is less fortunate than you). We should also use our imagination to fill in some of the details of their existence and maybe to form a few mental images as well. Okay, meditation over.
  • Prospective Retrospection: Visualize that you look back on your present moment as if you’re living far into the future. Just like how you can be nostalgic for things that happen in the past, one day you will be nostalgic about what’s happening right now. You’ll miss the times when you were reading this post on Level Up English and life was so simple. This is another way to practise gratitude in your life. Stoic Meditations
  • Stoic Training: Learn self-control through occasional acts of self-denial. You have an emotional immune system, but you need to train it. The way you train it is by experiencing things that are going to make you unhappy. Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Joy
  • The Bedtime Meditation: A Stoic’s mind, in contrast, will be quite active during a bedtime meditation. He will think about the events of the day. Did something disrupt his tranquility? Did he experience anger? Envy? Lust? Why did the day’s events upset him? Is there something he could have done to avoid getting upset? A GUIDE TO THE GOOD LIFE
  • Silver linings: Look for the silver linings in every instance of tragedy. Stoic Resilience and the Path to Tranquility
  • The Stoic test strategy: When faced with a setback, we should treat it as a test of our resilience and resourcefulness, devised and administered, as I have said, by imaginary Stoic gods. Their goal in throwing these curveballs our way is to make our days not harder but better. The Best Time to Practice Stoicism? When Your Flight is Canceled
  • Regain your sense of awe: 1) Choose an aspect of the world that you are willing to learn more about. 2) Learn.
  • Delight: Try this experiment. See how much pleasure you can derive from eating a single almond. If you eat it while watching television, you probably won’t experience much pleasure at all. If you instead pay attention to the act of eating the almond, tasting its saltiness, listening for the satisfying crack as you bite into it, and savoring the burst of almondy goodness that results, your pleasure will be intensified. But if you want to extract the maximum pleasure from an almond, you should become an almond connoisseur by learning about its history. You will discover that maybe ten years ago, someone planted an almond tree in the off-chance that someone like you would someday want to eat an almond. Other people cared for that tree till an almond crop came in, harvested those almonds, transported them to your local store, and placed them on the shelves from which you, for a few cents per almond, bought them. To the person who is mindful of the history of an almond, the consumption of that almond can be a profound event—a minor miracle, in fact. To most people, consumption of an almond is not a miracle; it is just a midday snack. #6: Gourmand, Gourmet, or Connoisseur?

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