Stoic Week: Day 2 Virtue

This week I’m taking part in a seven day introduction to Stoicism hosted by the Modern Stoicism group, a multidisciplinary group of academics who goal is to make Stoic Philosophy accessible and an accurate to the general public. I’m using my blog to record my thoughts and impressions about the material.

1)  Morning Meditation

If you can find anything in human life better than justice, truthfulness, self-control, courage […] turn to it with all your heart and enjoy the supreme good that you have found […] but if you find all other things to be trivial and valueless in comparison with virtue, give no room to anything else, since, once you turn towards that and divert from your proper path, you will no longer be able without inner conflict to give the highest honour to what is properly good. It is not right to set up as a rival to the rational and social good anything alien to its nature, such as the praise of the many, or positions of power, wealth, or enjoyment of pleasures. – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 3.6

The nice thing about this quote is it acknowledges that there are other schools of thought and if that’s your jam, hey go for it. My coworker says he agrees more with Epicureanism. I don’t know what the modern flavor is, but ancient Epicureans lived in small communities that were very similar to how monasteries work. I honestly was considering joining a Buddhist monastery at one point, but there’s only one for women that I know of in the United States and then the nonbinary gender realization thing happened. I think it’s awesome that Stoics refer to social interaction and societal duty as “Justice”. It’s like, “I don’t work in customer service. I work in JUSTICE.” Branding is everything I guess.

2) Mid-day reflection

Whew~! I have never seen the store I work at as busy as it was today so I didn’t really get a whole lot of time to reflect. I spent my lunch reading the “Socratic Dialogues” about Stoic values on the website.

Dialogue 1
Dialogue 2

Honestly my brain is pretty fried right now, but I got a complement on how at work I generally always have a positive attitude and I don’t let things rattle me. I consider that high praise and was glad for the complement. I’ve been actively working on letting “bad” customers get to me. There’s something called negativity bias where things that cause us to feel negative emotions stick in our minds more clearly than positive experiences. I had a mindfulness instructor explain, “Our brains evolved to survive, not to be happy.” Negativity bias is a REALLY helpful survival tool, but we don’t necessarily need it as much in the modern world. Sometimes, but mostly not. I’ll have 99 meh/boring customers and it’s the one who’s an asshole that gets cemented in my mind because my brain is like “Threat! Danger! Beware!” That’s not fair to everyone else who were either indifferent or the few who were genuinely happy that I helped them. So now anytime I have an asshole customer I keep reminding myself, “Remember the mehs! You do this job for them.”

3) Evening Reflection:

From what did we gain an understanding of virtue? From someone’s orderly character, his sense of what is appropriate and consistency, the harmony between all his actions, and his greatness of spirit in coping with everything. In this way, we came to understand the happy life, that flows on smoothly and is completely under its own control. – Seneca, Letters, 120.11

…My brain cannot handle this now. *headdesk* I’m going to pat myself on the back for not freaking out despite how busy it was today then take an advil and go to bed.


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