These Are Some Stoic Questions That Will Change Your Life (Pt. 2)

As we said yesterday, this weekend is all about questions from the Stoics that will change your life. Let’s get right back into it with 3 more Stoic questions that will change your life…

Will you choose alive time or dead time?

Robert Greene says there are two types of time: Dead time (where you let things happen) and Alive time (where you make things happen).

Issac Newton chose Alive time when he did some of his best research when Cambridge closed due to the plague. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, chose Alive time when he wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while he was laid up in the hospital. Seneca chose alive time when he did some of his best writing while in exile.

That’s what the Stoics meant when they said you don’t control what has happened, but you control how you respond. That’s what Marcus was talking about when he said we can turn everything that happens into fuel, and that the impediment to action can actually advance action.

Life is always giving the choice to decide between Alive time or Dead time?

What am I saying no to by saying yes?

Everything you say yes to is saying no to something else:

The decision to agree to that coffee meeting means saying no to an hour of reading. The decision to hop on this Zoom call means not hopping on the bike and getting some exercise in. The decision to stay up late to watch another episode of some mindless television show or scroll on your phone is saying no to a productive early morning. The decision to go to some conference across the country means missing one of those meaningful developmental moments with your young kids right there at home.

“Don’t set your heart on so many things,” says Epictetus. Prioritize. Say no to say yes.

Is THIS why I’m afraid of death?

We spend so much time on stuff that doesn’t matter. You know the kind of stuff that you just kinda get sucked into. You hate it but you let it fill up so much of your life. Marcus Aurelius, frustrated with one of those things that was consuming his days, once asked himself. “You’re afraid of death,” he said, “because you won’t be able to do this anymore?”

That’s the thing about memento mori. It’s so clarifying. If you were suddenly given a fatal diagnosis, you’d immediately spend less time doing certain things.

Well cut that thing out now, not later.

Because death is real. You do not have unlimited time.

None of us do.

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