Stoic Wisdom to Help You Handle the Possibility of Disaster

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“The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.” — Seneca

The oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon, has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877. Just above the players’ entrance to the Centre Court, the tournament’s main arena, inscribed are two lines from Rudyard Kipling’s “If:”

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

There are a lot of things that don’t work in our current society. Our obsession with instant gratification, our desire to fix ourselves by all sorts of means…

But there’s one aspect that is often promoted as a magical solution to all our problems, when in fact is a double-edged sword.

Visualization.

Believe you can, think about it, over and over again, and you’re halfway there. 

Visualizing triumph is easy.

But what about disaster?

What about visualizing the worst-case scenario? When everything that can go wrong does go wrong?

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Connect The Dots

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. 

So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. 

You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. 

Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.”

Steve Jobs

Fourteen years ago someone read one of my stories.

They didn’t like it. They told me to give up and do something else.

And this made me angry.

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The Dunning-Kruger Effect

“Every morning, upon awakening, I experience the supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dali, and I ask myself, wonder struck, what prodigious thing will he do today, this Salvador Dali.” — Salvador Dali

Dalí was famous for two things: his art and his eccentric and often ostentatious behavior.

In 1955, he delivered a lecture at the Sorbonne, arriving in a Rolls Royce full of cauliflowers.

To promote Robert Descharnes’ 1962 book The World of Salvador Dalí, he appeared in a Manhattan bookstore on a bed, wired up to a machine that traced his brain waves and blood pressure.

Dalí would avoid paying at restaurants by drawing on the checks he wrote, thinking that the restaurants would never want to cash the checks since they were artworks by the Spanish master.

There are plenty of critics that have often considered these antics to have obscured his genius, or to have been nothing more than the marketing gimmicks of a creatively bankrupt artist who had peaked in his 20s and 30s.

I, on the other hand, believe that it was his nonchalant demeanor that allowed him to produce great art.

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This Is What Karma Is All About

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“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

C.G. Jung

Here’s a fun experiment for you to try: write down every single thing you do during an average day. In half-hour increments. But be honest with yourself. Can’t write down: “from 9 AM to 5 PM — work.”

Be brutally honest.

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This Is Why You Need to Hit Rock Bottom in Order to Rebuild Yourself

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Rock bottom is never the end. It’s only the beginning.

“When this ultimate crisis comes… when there is no way out — that is the very moment when we explode from within and the totally other emerges: the sudden surfacing of a strength, a security of unknown origin, welling up from beyond reason, rational expectation, and hope.”

Émile Durkheim

I remember watching one of Jim Rohn’s speeches. He was sharing with the audience the story of being 25, a college graduate, freshly married, and not being able to afford to pay the girl scouts who knocked at his door to sell him cookies.

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