What Next after Week Four?

Congratulations on completing the lesson for week four.  Now it’s time to start putting things into practice!

Please take a moment to complete this brief course evaluation form with your feedback, to help us keep improving this material for others.

You should start using the techniques covered right now, if possible, and continue with them each day throughout the following week.  If you think you might have any problems adhering to the daily practices, or need any clarification, get in touch right away with the course facilitator.

However, your first step should be to visit the Comments section, as soon as you’re ready, and post your thoughts on the question for this week:

What would be the pros and cons of continually remembering, when starting to feel distressed about a situation or event, that it’s not things that upset us but our judgements about things?

Here’s a second question for you to consider, and discuss, if you want:

How can you help yourself to make the best use of this distinction in daily life?

Go to the Comments section below and post your thoughts.  If there’s anything whatsoever you could use help with, either technical stuff or the course content, please don’t hesitate to contact the course facilitator.

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  1. This week I’ve had a lot of distress in my life which has kept me from completing the exercises in a timely manner. But it’s been a great opportunity to work with the material from the previous 3 weeks. When things were calm I was getting a lot from the exercises, but when the rubber met the road I discovered how much more work I have to do.

    I can help myself to make the best use of the distinction between events and my judgments of them by really making some of these exercises a part of my daily routine. I’ve begun doing a very brief morning and evening meditation which I type into an online journal. In the morning I type a couple of key Stoic things to work on for the day, then copy them into my calendar. In the evening I briefly review how it went, sometimes with comments and sometimes with just a “virtue rating”. It turns out that typing them keeps me focused. I’ve also just started keeping a tally of how many times I pause for a minute of mindfulness. Now that things have calmed down I plan to do a daily premeditation of adversity using the audio. I think I’m beginning to understand the value of that one; it didn’t make much sense to me before this week.

    An interesting side effect of practicing mindfulness has been the realization that some minor health issues are stress related. I had no idea that I carry so much stress, and particularly where in my body I carry it.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been going through a lot of stress these few weeks, and I commend you for coming back to keep practicing Stoicism.

      “In the morning I type a couple of key Stoic things to work on for the day, then copy them into my calendar.” I think this is a great idea! I hadn’t thought of that before, and even though it’s so simple, it could be a powerful reminder for what your overall task for the day is. As for stress, that’s something I’ve realized about myself too… when things are easy going, the meditation and contemplation are easy… but when things hit the fan, it’s easy to relapse.

      I think that this is one of the reasons why we should contemplate future obstacles and meditate on adversity. More importantly, it’s why we should think of ways in which we can get back on track if we do relapse (which I had on Saturday and Sunday). I hope you’ll continue updating us (and me) on your progress in Stoicism, and that you will become more mindful of your stress and be able to reduce it.

  2. What would be the pros and cons of continually remembering, when starting to feel distressed about a situation or event, that it’s not things that upset us but our judgments about things?

    Pro: The attainment of the Stoic goal of Tranquility. That we should be indifferent to events over which we have no power. Realizing that we are not being disrupted by outside events, but rather we are choosing to disrupt our tranquility in response to outside events is such a paradigm shift. It puts the responsibility on the individual, but it also gives the power to the individual.

  3. It is hard to think in a con of remember that thing are not what upset us but our judgements about things. The pros are that you can have less stress when aproaching to different situations. Maybe the way of make the best use of this distinction in daily life is training to remember it when nothing upset us. Also when you believe that something is about to happen that can provoque distressing feelings, you can have something (a small sentence in a pocket, for example) that remembers you that it is you judgement what can upset you, not the thing itself, and that the judgement is under your control, ready to be changed.

  4. Here is my practice coping plan for controlling my irrational desires and urges:

    From now on, whenever I notice these early-warning signs..

    * Wavering attention, difficulty focusing on a task, worsening posture, shallower breathing, frowning, shaking of legs or limbs in an attempt to occupy my mind, tensing my core.

    … especially in situations like these…

    * Working in the lab, worrying about things at work, working for a long period of time, reading a difficult book, doing a difficult task, day-dreaming, ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future.

    … instead of responding by thinking this …

    * "I hate this!", "I don't want to do this!" "Is this even worthwhile?" "What's the point of this?", "This isn't even fun"

    … and doing this …

    * Worrying about the worst-case scenario, criticizing myself unnecessarily, blaming others, staying awake at night on social media, withdrawing from my interactions with my co-workers or family.

    … I will practice telling myself …

    * "It's not the situation that's upsetting me, it's my value-judgments, and placing to much importance on things outside of my direct control like my energy levels, passion, or the past." "I can deal with this if I take things slowly." "I am currently allowing my irrational desires to take hold of me, but this is an opportunity to practice my Stoic philosophy and directly engage with my core values."

    … and doing this …

    * Pausing, viewing my upset thoughts in a detached way, visualizing my upsetting thoughts and feelings on a leaf and floating down a stream; post-poning my criticisms and problem-solving until my feelings have calmed down; accepting my thoughts and feelings as they are, and then allow them to fade before continuing my activity; viewing my thoughts as if they were from another person; writing down and saying out loud my negative feelings or thoughts and noting whether they deserve further attention; taking deep breaths; and putting things into perspective again.

    I hope that you will help give me feedback, extra examples, and help me to explore our development of our respective blueprints. I look forward to seeing yours, and to updating mine … for purpose (eg. for controlling social anxiety/faux pas) or for specificity (eg. the different triggers could begin to include things like nail biting).

    1. Richard V., Your plan looks good. Just begin by practicing it where you can. Try the simpler or clearer times you react instead of responding. I think focus on the breath is good. It took me a fairly long time to attune to the fact that my breathing got shallower when I am anxious. And just remembering to ‘Breathe’ helps one keep one’s cool. Good luck. Just keep going when you may err, it’s okay to begin again.

      1. Thank you for your reply. What is your routine like? Which of the meditations do you do?

        I have been trouble deciding whether I want to do EVERYTHING that we’ve learned… from morning to evening contemplation, to the Leaves on a Stream Meditation, Virtues, Stoic Affirmations, and finally Premeditation Exercise.

  5. Hi all, I would definitely be interested in how you are developing your blueprints, so please post them! I think it would help all of us to see how we are each tackling different (or similar) problems. Once I have played with and decided which problem behavior I want to tackle, I intend to share it with you all too.