Lifestyle

Stoicism as a Life OS


Summary 

1. Having a personal OS makes you a better, more efficient decision-maker. 

2. Those who don't believe in any religion, philosophy is a great option as a lifeOS 

3. Stoicism as a personal OS helps you see what truly matters, saves you from emotional pain, and trains you to become emotionally resilient.


Why do you need a life OS? 

Just like a computer has an operating system, we need a personal operating system(OS). 

How come computers are so efficient? That's because they have an OS, and they make decisions according to it. (e.g. IF right-click, THEN show this menu). Thanks to their OS, they can make the best decision in an instant without wasting energy and time. 

Is it possible for us to install an OS like that? 

A personal, life OS so that we can make better decisions more efficiently?

Yes! And most people already have some types of life OS without realising it. For some people, it's their religion. For example, Christians may act according to the Bible. Muslims may act according to the Quran. 

Many people, however, don't really have their religion, including myself. As a Japanese, I'd consider myself a Buddhist, but I don't really practice it, to be honest. 

Philosophy can be a great life OS for those people. 

As Tim Ferris said: 

“I don't view philosophy as an idle form of intellectual masturbation. I really view good philosophy as a set of rules that allows you to make better decisions.”

Stoicism as a Personal Operating System 

Philosophy has been regaining its popularity outside academia recently. Stoicism, in particular, is attracting lots of attention among people. 

The most prominent principle in Stoicism is this: Focus on What You Can Control. 

For Stoics, it's crucial to acknowledge that you can't control much of what happens in your life. What's beyond our control is ultimately not important. What's truly important is how we choose to react to the given external situations. 

Every event is neither good nor bad: it's neutral. But it's your perception that makes them good or bad. That means it's not external events that make us happy or miserable, but our interpretation of those events. The flip side of this idea is that you have the power to give external events no more power over you. 

So, how can Stoicism help us as our Life OS? 

  1. It helps us determine what we should spend our energy and time on. 
  2. It saves us from unnecessary worries about things outside our control 
  3. It trains us to be more emotionally resilient 

With Stoicism, we become more intentional about how we spend our time. 

Marcus Aurelius urges us to remember that "the attention you give to any action should be in due proportion to its worth". 

Many people mindlessly spend their time on things that don't matter like binge-watching Netflix series, watching porn, and playing video games. 

But at what expense? We could use this time on what truly matters - family, friends, exercise, learning. Stoicism helps us see this line between what matters and what doesn't.

Another area Stoicism can help us is our emotional suffering. 

In Stoicism, the root cause of emotional suffering is worrying about things beyond our control. We worry about whether we get a promotion, whether other people like us, whether the political party we support wins the next election. All of those are outside of our control, hence pointless to worry about. 

"Suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens", says Dan Millman, the author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. By confusing the things which are up to us and those aren't, we cause emotional pain for ourselves. This is why we should always focus on what is under our control. 

Finally, Stoicism helps us to become emotionally resilient. We experience negative emotions every day such as irritation, anger, jealousy and grief. But anger is particularly harmful. The cost of anger is enormous: "No plague has cost the human race more." 

Getting angry rarely solves any problem. It doesn't change the situation, it doesn't improve it. Not getting angry at all is difficult. But if you are self-aware enough, you can catch yourself getting angry. Then you can choose whether to go along or not. 

Remember the Stoic principle that it's not external events that upset us, but our interpretation of those events. Anger is just a form of interpretation. So, when someone makes you angry, it's actually your opinion fuelling it.


Conclusion

Having a personal operating system helps your life so much easier. It makes you a better, efficient decision-maker. It helps you lead a more meaningful life. Stoicism might be an ancient philosophy, but it offers lessons that are tremendously valuable even in the present time. Equipping yourself with Stoicism as your personal OS can improve every aspect of your life.          


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