Hello guys and today our topic is about Self control and how to master it. Many people I know struggle and wonder about this process and how to achieve it perfectly but as usual most of them fail to progress. In this article, we’ll be discussing about the Art of mastering Self control or Self discipline. So let’s get started.
The Stoics bring the theme of self-discipline frequently. As an example, Epictetus spoke about abstaining from talking about meaningless things, and Marcus Aurelius pointed out that we should set limits to comfort and consumption.
In this video, I’ll go a bit deeper into the Stoic views of mastering Self-control. I’ve already talked about the usefulness of the ability of self-control, which helps one to stay away from addictive behavior, acting on impulses when it’s better motto and to stay focused on the things that truly matter. When we make the distinction between the things in our control and not in our control, the key is strengthening the things in our control, which is, in one word: our own faculty.
A strong faculty ensures that we’re less likely to be enslaved by outside forces that are not up to us. This means that impulses, triggers and temptations have less power over us, which strengthens our position in a universe that’s ever changing. This really hit me after I recently did a 72-hour water fast, during which I didn’t eat, and drank only water for 72 hours. This first day was most difficult, but the second day was surprisingly blissful and I was able to do all tasks that I’d normally do. This really changed my perception in regards to food.
I used to think that I’d faint if I didn’t eat for a day, but it turns out that I’m doing fine after a period of not eating. The lesson I got from this, is that many needs and desires come not so much from the body, but from certain ideas that are ingrained in our minds. For me, abstaining from food for 72-hours changed my relationship with it; I’ve become less needy, knowing that I’ll be fine and that I’m perfectly able to function when don’t eat for a while.
The consequence: I worry less about food. Statesman and Stoic philosopher Seneca reflected on the festivities going on in the city, during which the Romans feasted, got drunk and basically indulged in pleasure. He argued that it’s courageous to not participate in these festivities, but it’s even more courageous to participate but in a different way; without extravagance, thus, I assume, in a sober and modest fashion.
To detach ourselves from luxury and test the constancy of the mind, Seneca gave us the following advice: Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared? End quote.
Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote that we should set limits on leisure time, emphasizing that we aren’t made to spend our lives eating, drinking and sleeping to excess, especially when we look at the rest of the planet. I quote: Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands? End quote. Although I like his analogy, I must add that some animals probably aren’t the best examples when it comes to industriousness.
However, another argument that Marcus Aurelius brings forward repeatedly is that we should live in agreement with nature. More specifically: our human nature. The guideline for this are the Stoic ethics. To put this simply: if one lives virtuously, one lives in agreement with nature and vice versa. Courage and moderation are two of the four cardinal virtues in Stoicism.
Courage is subdivided into confidence, endurance, cheerfulness, high-mindedness and industriousness. Moderation can be subdivided into modesty, seemliness, good discipline and self-control. There are many ways to train self-control. Different types of fasting are very effective, but please consult your doctor first.
Another way is restricting the usage of the smartphone, social media, and the internet all together, which, by the way, I’m doing at the moment this video is published. Or how about this method: waiting a moment in front of your dish before you start teat, and chewing on your food for a certain amount of times before swallowing. You’ll be amazed how difficult this is.
Self-control makes us familiar with the hardship that many fellow humans beings go through every day, like hunger, bad luck and working insane hours with no vacation. Becoming more content with what we have and less dependent on what we think we need, brings about a sense of inner peace and happiness.
As Seneca puts it: Let us become intimate with poverty, so that Fortune may not catch us off our guard. We shall be rich with all the more comfort, if we once learn how far poverty is from being a burden. Thank you for reading. Please share it with others if you liked and drop your valuable comments below. I’d love to know your thoughts about it as well. Have a great day!