Stoicism has changed my life for the better. I’ve only been practicing it for the past 6 months, but I can already see tremendous changes in my mental health. Let me tell you a little bit about who I was before.
I unfortunately suffered from what many other people suffer with too. A crippling need to please people and to be liked. I got a fortune cookie almost 10 years ago that I carried around in my wallet for too long. When I opened the cookie I couldn’t believe what it said.
“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
It’s like it knew me personally. I felt like a ‘nothing’ because I basically was. I never shared my thoughts or opinions for fear that I would rub somebody the wrong way and they wouldn’t like me. I didn’t want to offend. That is until I found stoicism.
I happened to stumble upon a YouTube video about stoicism during one of my rabbit-hole adventures. We’ve all been there. You watch one video and then click a suggested title and before you know it you’re in a whole other solar system compared to your original search. This trip lead me to this video.
I was hooked. After that, I specifically searched for “Stoicism” on YouTube and Google and found many videos and articles that gave me numerous hours of reading. That, combined with my natural love for philosophy and being in deep thought, and everything just clicked. I found the thing I had been looking for all my life. Not quite a religion, but a belief system that I could worship, and I put it into practice immediately.
After a few days, I already developed a habit of asking myself, “Can I control this?” whenever something wasn’t going the way I had hoped or planned.
After a few weeks, I was able to care less and less about external sources of joy. I was on a path towards inner peace. With that, the wonderful side effect was that I wasn’t crippled anymore by the opinions of others. I finally felt free to be me. Now, I spend my days wondering how I can be the best me that I can, and each night I reflect on my day and ask myself, “Did I do my best today?” If the answer is yes, I can rest peacefully knowing that whether or not things went well, I did my best.
If I didn’t do my best, I acknowledge that, take responsibility for it, then figure out how I can be better tomorrow. Then, I rest peacefully knowing that tomorrow I will be better. Progress over perfection. There is so much more to stoicism and if any of this sounds intriguing, I highly encourage you to look into it. All I can say is that it has completely transformed me and I have never been happier.
You know the guy. Every time you see him, he works how awesome he was at football in high school into the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, if you were awesome at football in high school, by all means talk about it from time to time, but I’m talking about the guys who are defined by it. They want to relive their glory days because back then, they were somebody, and now, they feel just like everyone else. Working a menial job, paying bills, and wondering if this is really it.
I was that guy. I didn’t play football, but I lived with a different identity. I was the “back flip” kid. I was essentially a ghost otherwise. Barely anyone knew my name but if you said, “The kid who does backflips off the wall,” then they’d know.
I won’t lie, I enjoyed the attention. I loved hearing, “Yo, do a backflip! Everyone watch, this kid can do a backflip!” It meant, for those few seconds, they saw me. I was somebody. Backflip kid.
However, after high school, you run into people you went to school with and literally every single one of them would ask, “Do you still do backflips?” It’s completely understandable, but at the time, being young and aspiring to become a rapper, I got annoyed and made people feel dumb for even asking. I was reinventing myself as the pot smoking, wannabe-thug rapping bad ass.
I received even more attention for my music than I did for the flips. I loved it. It lasted a few years, and then it all ended. If you’ve read my book or had a conversation with me, you know that I developed a problem and hit rock bottom before I put the mic down and joined the military.
was my new peak. Being a rapper. I let it define me, and I felt like such a
failure. I didn’t get the same type of recognition in the military, so all I
talked about was my “glory” days of being a rapper and people giving me drugs
and partying with me. I talked about the places I’ve been to and the shit that
I’ve witnessed that always got a reaction from people. That was my “cool”
didn’t dawn on me until after the military, during college, I took American
Sign Language. My teacher, a wonderful woman, was born deaf and didn’t allow us
to have a translator during class. We had to communicate by basic signing and
body language. It was a transformative experience and on a side note, I highly
encourage everyone to learn some sign language (at the very least, the
part that made me realize that I was living in the past was during the first or
second week of class. We were sitting in a circle and we each had to introduce
ourselves and tell the class something we enjoy doing. I was all ready to spell
my name and try to communicate that I am a rapper/poet. However, somebody that
went before me said they were into poetry. Our teacher said that she doesn’t
like poetry because she doesn’t get it. There is a rhythm to poetry that we
“hear” even when we read it that she isn’t privy to. The same goes for rap
music, and most music. She likes very loud, bass-y music that she can feel, but
lyrics don’t mean a thing.
was stunned. I didn’t want to say that I was a rapper anymore, and it was
almost my turn to sign. In that moment I thought, “Who am I without music?”
it got to me, I just said I like hiking, which is true, but it was just the
first thing that popped in my head.
weeks, maybe months after, I was having an existential crisis. I kept asking
myself, “Who am I?” I realized that I hadn’t been doing music for a while at
that point, but I still defined myself as a musician. I wasn’t in the military
any longer, so I couldn’t identify as that either. I guess I was a college kid?
I didn’t like that identity. I began a long, arduous journey of self-reflection
and I came to the conclusion that I defined myself by what happened to me, not
by who I wanted to be.
happened to be poor growing up. I identified as that, even though I was no
longer poor. I got noticed for my backflips, so I wore that mask, and I allowed
other people to dictate when I did them, just for a small cheer. My friends got
into hip hop, and we wrote dumb little rhymes in our notebooks, then I got
noticed for mine, so I went down that path full force, just for some praise.
joined the military for me. I wanted to better my life, and I recognized that I
was deep down the wrong path. I did it for me, and yet, I never identified with
it. It’s like, I could only identify with what the world put on me, but when I
made a choice for me, it was just “something I did.”
I had to change the way I thought about things. I needed to learn to like me for me. To provide my own source of happiness from within. To be proud of myself for doing what I WANTED TO DO, especially when it ended up being a good choice. I completely deconstructed my belief system and tore it to rubble. Then, brick by brick, I built (am still building) the identity that I want to be defined as. I choose. Now, I am a writer and a motivator. I am a gamer. I am health conscious. I am a man. I am honest. I have integrity. I am responsible, and I am self-aware, with the ability to change my life as I see fit. These are some of the qualities that I am right now, and I will always be changing and growing. I refuse to be the guy who peaked in high school.
To those who read this blog I want to inform you that my lack of writing blog posts, as I stated in my most recent post is largely due to my prioritizing and managing my stress. I am working on my memoir and it is coming along swimmingly, so I have most of my efforts directed there.
Aside from that, I was given 3 courses to teach at my University, so I have over 50 students writing me papers that I must grade in a timely manner. All of my time not spent on writing my memoir, is spent grading, and the remaining time is spent decompressing to do it all over again.
I appreciate those who read my blog, and I apologize for those who may feel I’ve abandoned this altogether. That is not the case, I assure you. Once my book is finally finished, which I have made it a goal to be completely done with it this year, with high hopes of it being ready to send to publishers within a few months, I will have much more time and focus for writing online.
This website is a passion project for me. I bought the domain name as soon as possible because I didn’t want anyone to take it, but my plans for this site are way beyond posting my thoughts and ramblings. Eventually, I want it to be inclusive, my mission being to find as many stories to tell and have a platform to promote them.
In order to do that, I feel it is important that I myself have a story that is not only told, but has received enough attention for people to look to me so that I will have a platform to promote others. Thank you for reading and have a lovely day!
Since my hiatus from writing, I’ve done some looking inward. Like I stated in my previous post, I was letting external forces dictate my satisfaction. I placed attachment on things I could not control. I gave up some of my values to hopefully gain a little attention.
I’ve centered myself again. That’s not to say that I won’t fall off track again, but every now and then, hopefully sooner rather than later, I catch myself and make some adjustments to get back on track.
For starters, as silly as this sounds, I hate hashtags. However, from what I’ve read about marketing, you’re supposed to hashtag the shit out of a post so that it reaches more people. I’m not against putting a relevant tag, or few tags, to emphasize a point. For example, “I’m feeling like I can conquer the world!” #motivated
That makes sense. I still don’t love doing that, but it flows. But when I see 25-30 hashtags, or even worse, when I’m the one doing it, I could barf. It’s an unfortunate necessity, or so I think, to getting more views. I let my desire for views outweigh my disdain of excessive hashtagging, but, at least for now, I’m refraining.
The other thing I’ve done is posting too often. I run out of things to say, and then I force myself to write something because of my fear of losing viewers if I didn’t post every day. Honestly, it’s exhausting, and it sucks the fun out of writing. So, for now, I’m going to post when I have something to say. When I don’t, I won’t.
The final thing I am still working on is filtering my opinions. I am too afraid to say the wrong thing or displease a reader that I either refrain from saying anything at all, or I write like I’m walking on egg shells. That isn’t me. If you talk to me in person, I am a very reasonable man, and I like to look at both sides of a story, but sometimes I lean towards the unpopular belief.
For now, which I keep saying because who knows what tomorrow brings, but today, I’m me again, and “damn it feels good to be a gangster.”
I’m currently working on placing my happiness in things I can actually control. I find that when I care about how many likes an article, or Instagram picture, etc. gets, then I stop creating content when I feel like nobody is watching.
It never starts that way. I begin by writing for me. Naturally, when you keep at something and put it out there on the internet, people will eventually come across it. I can rationalize easily in the beginning that “It will take time before people see my work.” I am able to continue writing.
After I pick up some traction, which this site has been doing, and I come across a dip in views, that’s when I get discouraged. I start to question whether or not my writing sucks, or whether I said something that turned people away. The thoughts are endless, but I question every possible angle as to why my viewers stopped reading.
Lately, I’ve tried to push through it and continue writing anyway. It worked for a little while. I even got motivated again when I saw a rise in the views again. However, the dip inevitably came back, and with it, my anxiety.
I can come up with excuses, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some real life stuff going on that any reasonable person would hear and say, “You’ve got a lot going on, it’s okay to step away from writing for a bit.” The problem is, I know that I should keep writing through it, but I let the comfort of sympathy allow me to relax.
You know what that does? It furthers the cycle. When you don’t write consistently, you lose viewers, followers, likes, etc. Then, when you return, as I will with this article, it’s like starting over again. They say that the key to success is consistency. Like water eroding rock over time, eventually, you’ll get there if you just keep at it. The only thing I’m consistent with is my inconsistency.
I have been using this time away to work on myself. I’ve been trying to focus on what I can control and place my happiness there instead. I can’t control whether or not this post is seen by anyone, but that shouldn’t dictate my writing it. I shouldn’t be writing for praise. I should be writing because I like to write. It should make me feel good that I wrote something at all. I should be able to say, “I like it, and I like me, and that’s enough.”
You know what? I do like my writing. I like this article. And hell, I like me. I am good enough. So, if you read this, cool, if not, whatevs, at least for today, I truly don’t mind. Tomorrow is another day, and another chance to practice inner happiness.
I enjoy the hot water even more now that I know it will end with ice. The moment after I finish washing up, I take a few minutes to just let the water warm every part of my body and head before I take a few deep breaths and crank the spigot to as cold as it can get without turning off.
That first second literally takes your breath away.
I tense up, letting the ice cold water soak my hair. It takes every bit of will that I have, but I manage to calm myself and relax, turning my face up into the rushing falls, and slowly rotate, making sure every part of me has to suffer a few seconds.
When I finally turn the spigot off, I always shout out loud. Either, “Woo!” like Rick Flair, or “Damn that feels good!” And you know what? It really does. My body tingles, and some parts are almost numb. I warm up much quicker than if I step out of a hot shower into the room temperature. But, most of all, I feel mentally stronger.
It takes a certain mind set to endure. It takes a stronger one to endure when there is an easy way out. I don’t have to turn the faucet to cold, but I do, after every shower, no matter what.
This tactic is something that I’ve picked up from listening to some bad ass people speak on Joe Rogan’s Podcast. I decided to give it a try and I tell you what, it makes a huge difference in my life. I have been able to keep myself going when I normally would give up, and ice cold showers are one of the main reasons why I can do it.
Give it a try, the next time you are in the shower, finish it on cold and see how long you can endure. Each time that I do it, I can do it a little bit longer than before. Also, after it’s over, I’m smiling because I made it through and uplifted that I can do it. It’s a natural pick-me-up. Let me know if you do this or if you try it and how it goes!
ReMemoirme.com has just reached 50 likes! I can’t believe it! Thank you all so much for the love and support
Like many writers, I am always second guessing my work. I rarely ever put my work out there for the public to view, which I usually say something like, “Nah, it’s just for me.” Or some other lame excuse. The truth is, I’m crippled by my fear of rejection. I know that I can’t please everyone and that terrifies me to my core.
Lately, I’ve been doing a ton of self reflection and realized that I live in a cycle of self-defeat. But I am determined to break the cycle! It’s hard work everyday to not delete my site and retreat back into my dark cave, but I’m taking it one day at a time, and I can’t tell you how much your support means to me. I may act like I don’t care, but barely beneath the surface, I really do. Have a wonderful day!