Self-Admonishment, Stoicism, and the Antifragile

The Duke of Wellington
I wasn't sure about putting up the last post, even when writing it. Do I really want to whine online like some teenager? While my current phase is a throwback to that time, I should have better coping skills by now. I've thought about it a lot* and I concluded the following: I was being overly whiny and it's time to stop. Why complain?

I claim to be a stoic, but whining about one's situation clearly isn't part of the philosophy. In fact, it's pretty clear that's exactly the opposite of what a stoic should be doing. Then again, no one is perfect in their execution of an idea; I view it as a stumble, rather than a full collapse.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the philosophical stance, I'll steal the brief summary from my good friend, Steven Rose:
It's all about mental perseverance through the use of rational, emotionally detached methods

The point of this philosophy, as I see it, is to control yourself in such a way that you can handle anything that comes your way. To do what is right, despite what you feel. For me this stance took root from my relationship with the (terribly named) SADs, also known as seasonal depression. Nothing was particularly enjoyable and I had no drive to do anything in particular. Given that everything was bland, I chose to work on skills. Make sense?

More sketching.
That last point says: "54% consider
themselves 'pet parents,' not 'owners'"
That eventually evolved to throwing myself into random situations that scare me to see what happens. Doing this over and over has helped a lot with self-confidence and, of course, self-efficacy.** I've been called an eccentric a few times over the past year or so, and I think some of it has to do with my stoic actions.***

Lately I've been playing with intermittent fasting. The food I'm eating is largely bland (no bread, sugar, milk, rice, etc) and mostly for function, save for the one day of the week where I allow it. Now, once a week, I don't eat for 24 hours. I've seen research here and there based around it, so I'm interested in tinkering. Worst case scenario seems pretty mild, like wasting my time, potential weight gain, or dizziness. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone with an eating disorder, but after completing my second round, it was significantly much easier than the first. I see it as an exercise in willpower, as well as allowing my body to learn how to work well while not having input. In the same vein, I'm forcing myself to be uncomfortably cold just to endure it. Not damagingly cold, mind you - just uncomfortable. I usually do this most winters for the sake of tempering myself to the impending real cold.

Why put myself through these things? Because it makes comfort more pleasurable, it makes certain small pleasure stand out, and because there are metabolic gains for it. We're all too comfortable. At least, we're not uncomfortable enough. I honestly think being uncomfortable isn't a valid excuse for most situations people use it.

Fall is upon us
I just finished three Nassim Taleb's books^, all of which are fantastic. Essentially, I'm combining stoicism with his idea of the "antifragile." To boil it down: the opposite of fragile is not "robust." Fragile things dislike change, as any change will likely damage it. Robust things can withstand change, staying the same. Antifragile things, however, become stronger from change and stressors, while they get weaker without them. If fragile is -1, robust is 0, and antifragile is 1. We are antifragile in almost every realm we have. Mind, body, soul. If you don't think much, you will slowly lose the ability to do so. Don't use your muscles and they wither. Constantly wrapping yourself in comfort will make the harshness of the world more insufferable. And so on, and so on. Easier said than done.

I'm meandering. Back to where I started: the pity party.

It doesn't make any sense. I want an unconventional life with adventure and craziness, yet I'm not willing to endure uncertainty and setbacks? Ridiculous. Adventure without risks is a kiddy ride at Disneyland. At least this realization, held in mind, should help me deal with the struggles that are inevitably going to come. There's no real rush, but I'm putting the pressure on. So long as I keep progressing and moving forward, that is success. To quote a Nike slogan: success is not a destination - it's a journey.


Rochelle's Cow Pumpkin
I said I'd talk about halloween, so here it is. I reflected and realized that it wasn't going to be a very entertaining story to write, nor to read. If you're bored writing something, then you know the audience is definitely going to be bored reading it.

Large Strokes:

  • Went to Waterloo
  • Started drinking with Reuben while Lauren, Rochelle, and Haley helped one another get ready
  • Drink more at Reuben's place
  • Bro out with Reuben
  • Walk to the bar through the torn-up king street
  • Talk to everyone at the bar, very blurry and hazy
  • Dance with some girl in a skeleton costume who I don't really remember
  • Apparently she also flirted with my sister
  • Get kicked out after socializing a lot because I was too drunk
  • Lauren finds me wandering, looking for food. Everything was closed.
  • Wander until Zach, Lucas' Brother, picked Lauren and I up, bringing us home.
  • Hang out until the night ended.
  • Ate Pizza

One of Lauren's Pumpkins
See, it might have been a good story had I been coherent enough to remember it. I made one fatal mistake: I bought liquor at the bar. I wasted so much money that night doing something I almost never do. Who buys drinks at the bar?! Of course that's a ridiculous question, but that's generally how I think. I'd rather drink beforehand, or just go sober. Anyway, that was the culprit for why I can't go into too much detail.

There. Halloween promise upheld.

Editing Music: The Best of Ella Fitzgerald

*Clearly, that's my main course of action. People keep telling me I think too much, but I don't know that I agree. I still think it's only "too much" when it results in analysis paralysis.
**The belief in one's ability to complete tasks or to be successful at something.
***I originally wrote "My stoic beliefs" but beliefs mean nothing unless acted upon.
^Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, and Antifragile.

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