Wisdom of the ages – 6 proven ways to stay calm

Wisdom of the ages – 6 proven ways to stay calm

Happiness is so many things … excitement and joy; calm and contentment.

So calm isn’t always part of happiness but happiness, often, is much easier when we can stay calm more often.

And happiness and calm have, for ever, been common human goals; and here are 6 great lessons we call all learn from the wise people who’ve gone before us …

via the ladders by Eric Barker

People have enormous respect for ancient wisdom. They just don’t read it. Funny thing is, we’re more likely to live happier lives when we visit the classics section than the self-help aisle.

So how do we get the skinny on what one group of brilliant dead guys — The Stoics — had to say? Well, for that, I called my friend Ryan.

Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the EnemyHis new book is The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.

So what can the guys who invented the toga party teach us about living well? Let’s get to it…

1. Events don’t upset you. Beliefs do

You get dumped by someone you’re totally in love with. Feel sad? God, yes. The world is going to end.

Okay, same scenario, but afterwards you find out that person was actually a psychopath who killed their last three partners. Feel sad you got dumped? No, you’re thrilled.

So clearly “getting dumped” isn’t the important factor here. What changed? Nothing but your beliefs.

If you lose your job and believe it was a lousy position and believe it won’t be hard for you to get a better job, you’re unfazed.

If you believe it was the greatest job ever and believe you’ll never get another one that good — you’re devastated. Emotions aren’t random. They follow from beliefs. Here’s Ryan:

The Stoics are saying there are no good or bad events, there’s only perception. Shakespeare encapsulated it well when he said, “Nothing either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” Shakespeare and the Stoics are saying that the world around us is indifferent, it is objective. The Stoics are saying, “This happened to me,” is not the same as, “This happened to me and that’s bad.” They’re saying if you stop at the first part, you will be much more resilient and much more able to make some good out of anything that happens.

Skeptical? Sound too simple? Guess what? You couldn’t be more wrong…

This part of Stoic philosophy was adapted by famed psychologist Albert Ellis to form Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — which is now the dominant method for helping people overcome problems ranging from depression to anxiety to anger.

Most of the bad feelings you have are caused by irrational beliefs.

Next time you’re feeling negative emotions, don’t focus on the event that you think “caused” them. Ask yourself what belief you hold about that event. And then ask yourself if it’s rational:

  • “If my partner dumps me, I’ll never get over it.”
  • “If I lose my job, my life is over.”
  • “If I don’t finish reading this post, the writer will hate me forever.”

Only the third one is true. The other two are irrational. And that’s why you get anxious, angry or depressed.

Revise your beliefs and you can change your feelings: “Even if they dump me, I can meet someone else. It’s happened before and I got over it.”

(To learn more from Albert Ellis about how to never be frustrated again, click here.)

So you’re revising your beliefs to overcome sadness and anger. Awesome. But what about when you’re unhappy because you’re worried about the future?

2. Control what you can. Ignore the rest

You know the Serenity Prayer?

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”

Reinhold Nieburh came up with it around 1934. The Stoics were preaching that basic idea, oh, about 2000 years earlier.

The Stoics were really big on control. But they were not control freaks at all. A key part of Stoicism is just asking yourself, “Can I do anything about this?”

If you can, do it. If you can’t… then you can’t. But worrying achieves nothing but stress. Here’s Ryan:

What the Stoics are saying is so much of what worries us are things that we have no control over. If I’m doing something tomorrow and I’m worried about it raining and ruining it, no amount of me stressing about it is going to change whether it rains or not. The Stoics are saying, “Not only are you going to be happier if you can make the distinction between what you can change and can’t change but if you focus your energy exclusively on what you can change, you’re going to be a lot more productive and effective as well.”


Here’s a quick visual to help get the point across:

Next time you’re worrying, pause and ask yourself, “Do I have control over this?” If you do, stop worrying and get to work.

If you don’t have control, worrying won’t make it better. And going back to the first point, it might be a good idea to ask yourself what your belief is that’s causing all this worry… Yeah, it’s probably irrational.

(To learn more lifehacks from a variety of ancient thinkers, click here.)

So sadness, anger and worrying are irrational responses and they’re not the right way to react when things happen. So what is the right way to react to stuff that doesn’t meet your expectations?

… keep reading the full & original article HERE