Stoicism for a Better Life (Part 8)


“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” ― Seneca

I know it is easier to give advice than to take it. But since I write the blog primarily for myself, I think of this as advice I am giving myself. And if others can benefit from it, that’s an added bonus!

Daily Me-time is a must: One needs to reflect at the end of a day. What did you do right, what went wrong, what are mistakes to learn from, what did not happen, where did you lose your temper, what could you have done better. It is about making oneself better each day – more progress than perfection. Getting those 15-20 minutes at the end of a day to think back can be very helpful. A diary habit can get all the thoughts out of the system so one gets a peaceful sleep. Sometimes early mornings can also be very helpful to plan out the day.

Imagine worst-case scenarios: When starting something new, it is important to think through the worst eventuality so one is mentally prepared for it. Most of us are optimistic by nature and that is good. But when starting on a new venture, one needs to face up to the outcomes that can cause pain and frustration. This way, one is ready for those situations in case they happen. It is still going to be hard navigating through them, but at least the surprise and shock is limited.

Saying Sorry: Apologising is not an easy thing to do. Yet the five-letter “sorry” has much more power in it that we can imagine. It is never an easy word to speak. It means accepting a mistake, which we are generally reluctant to do – it is always someone else’s fault. Sorry is about setting one’s ego aside. It is accepting our own fallibility. It is even harder when it has to be said in person making eye contact with the person we have wronged. And yet, when done, it can be a great liberator. It lets us leave the past behind and look ahead to the future.

Controlling the mind: In today’s world of myriad distractions, it is easy for the mind to wander. In Zoom meetings, the inbox is just a click away. In a presentation, many mental hyperlinks beckon. In between tasks that need focus, WhatsApp notifications lure us away and diminish our productivity. Attention recession is pervasive. This is where we need to be even more aware of what we are doing, and ensure we stay in the moment. Being “indistractable” requires inner power and there are great rewards for those who can master their mind.

Entrepreneurs need stoicism: The life of an entrepreneur has more downs than ups. The daily battles with a never-ending stream of issues can be gut-wrenching. Anyone who begrudges the handsome paydays that entrepreneurs get (sometimes) have to see their lives. Entrepreneurs (or founders) are the final port of call in a growing company and have to be able to handle all issues: from the trivial to the most critical. To keep one’s calm in an endless stream of meetings, to hide one’s emotions when an order is lost, to show people the bright future and upside, to deal with angry customers, to pull through when employees leave – it’s all in a day’s life.

Nothing I have said above is anything new; it is all obvious if one thinks about it. And that’s what I like about Stoic ideas: they are logical, simple and straightforward. Living life as a Stoic is not easy; it requires great discipline, self-reflection and awareness. It needs a mindset which is capable of constantly learning. We all are works in progress, and that is what Stoicism recognises. With some effort, we can become better and create a happier life for ourselves and those around us.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.