Friday Discussion: Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Joy

Here’s a podcast about Stoicism, a philosophy similar to yoga (hat tip Meghan):

Yes this is the dichotomy of control, although in my own works, I broken it into a tri-chotomy of control. So things you have complete control over, those would be your values. Those would be the choices that you make. Things you have no control over at all are like whether the sun rises tomorrow. So the first bit of advice, stoic advice in this comes from you, Musonius’s student Epictetus, one of the four great Roman stoic philosophers.

The advice is, don’t spend your time thinking about things you have no control over because you can’t control them. It’s a waste of time. You should instead spend that time thinking very carefully about things you do have control over, including your values. And then there’s this interesting middle category, and that’s the category of things you have some but not complete control over. So one analogy I use is preparing for a tennis match. You can’t control how hard your opponent practices.

You can’t control the weather conditions on the day of the match. But there are things you can’t control, like how hard you train, like the strategy you come up with for doing the match. And that’s what you should be focusing your attention on. Let me take a little bit of a side trip here. When a stoic is, has finished, when whatever he was preparing for is over, he won’t judge himself on the basis of whether he won or lost.

He’ll judge himself on whether he did the most with what he had available to him. And if he did that, that’s success, because that’s all he could do.

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