…in search of peace, not learning

Today I identified a mismatch between what I have been doing (which I have thought I should do) and what I need to do in order to move forward, to progress.

I thought I should learn the basics of Stoicism in order to use it to improve my life and the life of others I meet and interact with.

What I now see and understand is that first, before worrying about the underlying structure of Stoicism, I need to find some tools and techniques which can help me achieve sufficient peace of mind to progress to the deeper learning.

For some reason life feels stressful, much more than usually. Looking to get a deep understanding of a new (to me) philosophy requires a clarity of thought and freedom from conflicting pressures which currently isn’t available to me. 

Top down learning

Learning Stoicism in a top down way with the big issues and objectives coming first on the agenda and gradually expanding the knowledge before starting to use the tools and techniques after establishing a base on which to build is one way of doing it. And, it was the plan I was operating with.

Bottom up learning

Turning the approach on its head, and starting with only the tools and techniques with little or no understanding of the context and philosophy behind them is a viable method for some people and some subjects to be learned.

Mixed learning approach

Where I started this journey in a top down style I now believe that the most appropriate way for me to learn Stoic Philosophy is to mix the two styles. I need to have a context into which to put any tools or techniques but in order to make significant progress with the learning I need to feel and see some short term benefits only achievable by using some of the tools available.

No surprise

Given a number of the videos watched and quotes read make great emphasis on Stoic Philosophy needing to be actioned rather than merely understood this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me but it did.

I hadn’t realised the need I have to make progress before I can clear the space in my mind to build understanding.

So, now to pick a few of the techniques to work with for a few days / weeks before trying to extend my knowledge and understanding of the philosophical aspects of Stoicism.

First – Journaling

To some extent, the building and posting on this website is a style of journaling. I won’t be publicly recording any daily journal with private thoughts and issues here but I will attempt to keep up a record on the site. The private stuff I will do elsewhere. A decision – I will actually use a pen and paper rather than an electronic journal for the first time in many decades.

Second – tips and tricks videos / posts

Rather than looking for the high level theory posts and videos I will, for a short period, focus on the tips and tricks posts and videos available. From them I will aim to pick up a few simple things which I can do now to improve my attitude and performance.

Epictetus

That’s why the philosophers warn us not to be satisfied with mere learning, but to add practice and then training. For as time passes we forget what we learned and end up doing the opposite, and hold opinions the opposite of what we should.