Tim Ferris (of the Four Hour Work Week) has another great post up – this time on Stoicism. How can a dusty old school of Philosophy have relevance to today’s Web 2.0 culture? Just read it.
“Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.”
The Stoics had an exercise called Turning the Obstacle Upside Down. What they meant to do was make it impossible to not practice the art of philosophy. Because if you can properly turn a problem upside down, every “bad” becomes a new source of good.
Suppose for a second that you are trying to help someone and they respond by being surly or unwilling to cooperate. Instead of making your life more difficult, the exercise says, they’re actually directing you towards new virtues; for example, patience or understanding. Or, the death of someone close to you; a chance to show fortitude. Marcus Aurelius described it like this: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”