FEBRUARY | Emotion & Passions |
So last month is all about getting my grove in terms of being a Stoic, focusing on the first reality, which is CHOICE & CONTROL. This month focuses on another aspect, which is a very important aspect of Stoicism, which is emotion & passions.
Today is about anger.
Generally, I’m not an angry person. I don’t like getting angry, because there was a time in my life, where I was angry all the time. People go around, not believing what I believing, or doing what I wouldn’t do, just some minor insignificant things have a way of infuriating me. But I tried to let go of it, because nobody likes an angry person. As I developed my charismatic skills, I learned to be calm and composed as much as I can. Little did I know that it contributed to what eventually is my call to Stoicism.
“Keep this thought handy when you feel a fit of rage coming on—it isn’t manly to be enraged. Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier. A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance—unlike the angry and complaining. The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.”
— MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS , 11.18.5 b
For a long time now, I never really liked feeling angry, because it took up too much energy. When I get angry, I focused so much on hating something that I tended to just let it dictate the course of my day. And this was very disadvantageous when I was teaching, because the little things could bother me, and I ended up getting angry more and teaching less.
I trained myself for a long time, to be calm in class, to channel my energies towards fixing problems with my students than just lashing out expecting problems to fix themselves. And I’m glad I carried it out up to now.
Because Marcus would be very disappointed if I were a hot-head. Because he considered it un-manly, or unbecoming of what is expected of a man.
Although there maybe times when anger is the immediate emotion I feel, thanks to my meditations as a Stoic, I have found that I needed to let these emotions go because they serve no purpose.
These are my thoughts when I feel like getting angry:
- This thing does not agree with what I believe, my preferences, or what I consider to be valid despite being subjective (ie. opinions).
- Can I change that thing to agree to me?
- What would it cost me, if I put in the effort to try and change that thing?
- In most cases, this thing is not worth the effort.
- Why would I even dwell on this thing if I am unlikely to change it?
- I should simply just let it be and move on to something else.
Things that have almost pushed my emotions are usually opinions about politics & pop-culture. Both of those things, I have little to no power in influencing. So I could consume news, or enjoy my favorite media (game, movie, music…etc.) but not let the opinion of others influence me.
This is why…
- I try to avoid comment sections that I know would contain bile.
- I try to avoid engaging conversation in bile infested forums.
- I try to keep conversations neutral.
- I try to not let insults get to me.
- I try to speak less and listen more.
When I couldn’t avoid avenues to getting angry, I remind myself: “I have a choice: Be Angry or Stay Calm” and I choose calm most of the time.
Take note that I do emphasize: TRY. A Stoic is not emotionless, a Stoic must still feel emotion because it is the essence of life. But allowing those emotions to cloud my ability to see reason is forbidden. There will be lapses, but as long as I bounce back, I know I have bested my passions.