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Building Mental Resilience

Hardwire A Positive Daily Mindset With These Ancient Philosophies


Philosophy has a reputation of being dry, outlandish and is viewed as men in togas sat in circles 2000 years ago discussing meaningful insights of human existence. Popular psychology can be described as a bite sized ready meal for the mind. Truth is that both philosophy and popular psychology are great places to begin to look when discussing mental toughness and positive mindset.


Philosophy is the ultimate self-help guide and mind training tool there is. Some of the wisdom these philosophers wrote about is incredible and definitely held the test of time. Of course, there are many subjects surrounding philosophy ranging from politics to the nature of existence but the ones that can particularly impact us on a daily basis are the philosophies of Stoicism and Buddhism. By studying these ideas, we can cultivate a mindset that handles daily challenges, focuses on positivity and build a mentally resilient mind.

philosophy and psychology overlap

Stoicism

Stoicism stems from Ancient Greece around 300BC when the realisation of self-knowledge, self-improvement and self-discipline were among the discussions of wise and humble men.


One of the first notable stoics was a man called Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4BC-65AD). Most of his work was philosophy writings to friends and family and a great introduction to stoicism is his book,
Letters from a Stoic; which is full of advice relevant to our modern world. He later served as the Imperial Advisor to the notorious Roman Emperor Nero, who commanded Seneca to commit suicide! Without complaint or emotion, in true stoic motion, Seneca obliged and accepted his fate and took his own life.


Epictetus (55-135AD), born a slave who later when released started a School for Philosophy in Greece, wrote about how to live our lives with a heavy focus on how we respond to situations. A lot of Epictetus’ ideas are credited as being highly influential in popular psychology and cognitive behaviour therapy. The positive search for the darkest of experiences is one of the foundations of stoicism and shows us the real power of positive mindset.  



It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

Epictetus


It later spread to Ancient Rome where Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius practically applied his stoic mindset and frequently journaled his thoughts surrounding his life, philosophy and ideas on stoicism. All these writings are famous in his book, Meditations. Note that this is not a conventional read but a collection of thoughts, quotes and ideas from this very wise Roman Emperor. 


The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

Marcus Aurelius 


The only thing we have real control over is how we respond to external events; this is stoicism in a nutshell. When stuck outside in the cold and wet, the stoic sees an opportunity to test their mental fortitude. When spilling a drink onto the carpet, the stoic sees and opportunity to clean the carpet. Stuck in traffic or someone gets road rage, the stoic acknowledges that this small moment is not defining his day and remains calm and… stoic.

 

Ultimately these are all philosophies on bettering yourself and may not sounds so ground-breaking at first, but you are always in control on how you react to any situation. Accepting what you can’t control and what you can is immensely important. 


Stoic top tips to try:


  • Response regulation: When a daily event happens that doesn’t go well, try and monitor your immediate response to the situation. When we become conscious of our initial reactions we can learn to appreciate our reactions to things outside of our control! It takes practice but focus on what you can do and not what you can’t do.  

  • Journaling: To self-develop and fine tune our mindset we need to be aware of our daily thoughts and to fully track how we are doing we need to write it all down. Journaling is a great way of learning how your mind actually focuses and brings you to your thought process. After practice and study journaling can develop ethos, mindset and bring attention to thoughts. Note down your attempts at stoic philosophy in daily tasks. See where it takes you. 

    journal + coffee

  • Buddhism

    Far from the conventional religion of worshiping mystical Gods and Deities, Buddhism originated in India 2500 years ago and has spread all over Asian and has evolved into different shapes, ideas, rituals and practices. These overall philosophies are based on the insights of Siddhartha Gautama who later became known as The Buddha, a wise man and leader who discovered a system to relive human suffering by employing mindfulness and acceptance of change. It is these ideas of acceptance of suffering and inevitable change that we can use in our modern daily lives. 


    Our mind is the source of our suffering 

    Buddha


    This idea suggests that it’s our mind that is responsible for our suffering and anguish and we can easily create unpleasant situations out of nothing at all. So, if your mind creates your suffering then surely your mind can relieve your suffering also? Buddhism talks about the acceptance of this suffering and how our mind can alter its meaning, these are called the Four Noble Truths.


    Suffering exists – accept it.

    Desire is the source of sufferinggreed, dwelling on situations creates suffering.

    This situation can be alleviatedsuffering can be overcome.

    Balance of life and hard work overcome anguishthe path to overcome suffering and become enlightened.


    The picture this is creating is the acceptance of suffering and change in life and becoming a master on handling the situations in front of us. To be enlightened is to be in acceptance and content with whatever situation you are in. Buddhism is a huge subject, but the main point is your mind can make a mountain out of a molehill and there are great tips to take away.


    Buddhism top tips to try:


  • Breathe: Learning to breathe deeply and with conscious intent can have a massive impact on our lives. If you are in an unpleasant situation, breathe deeply with intent, this can be very grounding and relieving of suffering.

  • Impermanence: Everything is in a state of change, accepting this will reduce mental anguish. Accepting change is essential and knowing the worst situation or suffering will inevitably change. This practice can be applied to the simplest of activities, suffering on a long-distance run? Suffering is a temporary aspect of that existence that will always pass.

    think be happy mug

  • The key take away from both philosophies of Stoicism and Buddhism is that of the power of the mind and the focus of our thoughts. Stuck at home on lockdown? What can I achieve from this to benefit and self-develop? Ripped your trousers? Now I can practice my sewing skills. Stuck in the rain? Let’s test my mental fortitude of suffering and accept my situation. These are daily tasks that our thoughts have the effect on and not the situation itself. Shit happens, stay positive and stay happy.   

     

    This post was guest written by Christian Scott

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