Openness to Experience and Stoicism (EU03)

To recap of the lessons EU01 and EU02:

  • Our ability to think productively is predicated in our biological assets and maintain it is vital EU01.
  • There is greater upside in understanding that we can do great evil and develop a system of stopping it from happening EU02.

Both lessons are pre-requisites for understanding how our ability to be open to new things and have the power control ourselves creates the foundations for embracing the chaos of any situation. That is why I strategically layered the concept in this hierarchy.

To achieve a healthy body plus the ability to tap into your potential,you need to be able to create a system of activities that will open yourself to new things - specifically a Big 5 personality trait called Openness to Experience. Openness to Experience relates to our primary dimension of creativity, artistic interest and intelligence (particularly verbal intelligence) in the Big Five personality trait scientific model. Developing routines to engage yourself into new or even uncomfortable activities will fire new neurons to use and be able to link themselves unique neural structures over time. This is commonly known as "routines or habits" in layman terms.

I have two activities that helped me learn a lot about myself and understand how we are capable of improving ourselves, namely:

  • Cycling ten to fourtheen kilometers per day enhances your energy level over time. This was a case for me as it took a month before I reap the rewards of increased energy and grit to sustain long periods of pain, as each trip initially took an hour from our house to the office, once in the morning and another one in the afternoon. I also see pain as an indicator of progress as the more routinary pain I get, it builds enough gradual fortitude that I am now garnering as increased capacity to do more activities at work and personal projects like this one.
  • Writing through physical paper or an electronic device is a great way to silence your brain and free space for new ideas to be absorbed by our brain. We unfortunately rely to our brain's ability to perceive and have very little bandwith so maintaining a way to organizing information through writing creates more spaces as you can largely eliminate a lot of garbage in your thoughts. Effectively, computer programming does the same thing to our brains too.

I have adapted such method to computer programming, learning to play the guitar or in my professional practice as an accountant. Choosing to not evade uncomfortable activities builds more capacity for you in the long run. This just sound so counter intuitive but this is the best way to improve your ability to tackle daunting challenges. Don't evade problems. Attack it head on with a high degree of openness.

But....

I believe our ability to be too open has a downside - a big chunk of acquiring new activities is predicated in circumstances that we do not control. To think of it, it will become too daunting to just be accepting new challenges but not know how to manage it properly. That is where stoicism fits in, an operating system for life as described by master learner Timothy Ferris.

Stoicism is an ancient philosophical practice that Zeno created and eventually popularized by Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus. Stoicism alone can propel you to greater heights if done properly as it's core function is "to focus our actions and responses only to the things that we can control, and disregard the rest". Yes, you heard me right, disregard the rest except what you can control. Let me expand and take you to ancient history.

I cannot escape death, but at least I can escape the fear of it. - Epictetus

The wise man will live as long as he ought, not as long as he can. - Seneca

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” ― Marcus Aurelius

We have very limited time in this world, we will eventually di and fade in to nothingness. Focusing on this thought like great stoics did is comparable to a big chunk of treasure unearthed, a great mental exercise to ponder with. It allows you to realize that:

  • However big or small every experience is, failure or achievement you should ought to be thankful of the lessons you learned.
  • Having limited time forces you to learn and improve your life systematically. Keeping in mind the logic that you want to maximize your finite impact in this planet, is the most meaningful way of harnessing your potential.

Stoic philosophy helped me understood how much of what we do in the world are wasted because we place too much emphasis in the things we can't really control. So much criticism, hate or ineffectiveness are attributed to activities with the premise of factoring actions that are out of the realm of possibilities - cases that we do not have direct and immediate influences.

Being open to experience and controlling such through stoic practices was the best approach I was able to configure to tackle huge and seemingly indestructible problems. Through this combination creates an upgraded version of you that can handle virtually anything.

After diving to a lot of conceptual frameworks, in the next topics I will outline practical applications of the first three sections of Embracing Uncertainty.

NEXT SECTION: Multiple case analyses and applications of EU01, EU02 & EU03