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Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends. Walt Disney


Always Have A Mental Reverse Clause

Obstacles are a part of life things happen, stuff gets in our way, situations go awry. But nothing can stop the Stoic mind when it’s operating properly, because in every course of action, it has retained “a reverse clause.”

What’s that? It’s a backup option. If a friend betrays us, our reverse clause is to learn from how this happened and how to forgive this person’s mistake. If we’re thrown in prison, our reverse clause is that we can refuse to be broken by this change of events and try to be of service to our fellow prisoners. When a technical glitch erases our work, our reverse clause is that we can start fresh and do it better this time. Our progress can be impeded or disrupted, but the mind can always be changed—it retains the power to redirect the path.

Part of this is remembering the usual course of things Murphy’s Law states that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” So we keep this reverse clause handy because we know we’re probably going to have to use it. No one can thwart that.


Working Hard Or Hardly Working?

What are the chances that the busiest person you know is actually the most productive? We tend to associate busyness with goodness and believe that spending many hours at work should be rewarded.

Instead, evaluate what you are doing, why you are doing it, and where accomplishing it will take you. If you don’t have a good answer, then stop.


Plato’s View

There is a beautiful dialogue called “Icaromenippus, an Aerial Expedition” by the poet Lucian in which the narrator is given the ability to fly and sees the world from above. Turning his eyes earthward, he sees how comically small even the richest people, the biggest estates, and entire empires look from above. All their battles and concerns were made petty in perspective.

In ancient times, this exercise was only theoretical the highest anyone could get was the top of a mountain or a building a few stories tall. But as technology has progressed, humans have been able to actually take that bird’s-eye view and greater.

Edgar Mitchell, an astronaut, was one of the first people to see the earth from outer space. As he later recounted:

“In outer space you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”

Many a problem can be solved with the perspective of Plato’s view. Use it.


It Is Well To Be Flexible

Shortly before his death, as victory in the Civil War was finally within his grasp, Lincoln told a story to an audience of generals and admirals about a man who had approached him for a high-ranking government appointment. First, the man asked if he might be made a foreign minister. Upon being turned down, the man asked for a more modest position. Upon being turned down again, he asked for a job as a low-level customs officer. Finding he could not get even that, he finally just asked Lincoln for an old pair of trousers. “Ah,” Lincoln laughed as he concluded the story, “it is well to be humble.”

This story embodies the flexibility and determination of Stoicism. If we can’t do this, then perhaps we can try that. And if we can’t do that, then perhaps we can try some other thing. And if that thing is impossible, there is always another. Even if that final thing is just being a good human being we always have some opportunity to practice our philosophy, to make some contribution.


Blow Your Own Nose

The world is unfair. The game is rigged. So-and-so has it out for you. Maybe these theories are true, but practically speaking for the right here and now what good are they to you? That government report or that sympathetic news article isn’t going to pay the bills or rehab your broken leg or find that bridge loan you need. Succumbing to the self-pity and “woe is me” narrative accomplishes nothing nothing except sapping you of the energy and motivation you need to do something about your problem.

We have a choice: Do we focus on the ways we have been wronged, or do we use what we’ve been given and get to work? Will we wait for someone to save us, or will we listen to Marcus Aurelius’s empowering call to “get active in your own rescue if you care for yourself at all and do it while you can.” That’s better than just blowing your own nose (which is a step forward in.


This is What We Are Here For

No one said life was easy. No one said it would be fair. Don’t forget, though, that you come from a long, unbroken line of ancestors who survived unimaginable adversity, difficulty, and struggle. It’s their genes and their blood that run through your body right now. Without them, you wouldn't be here.

You’re an heir to an impressive tradition and as their viable offspring, you’re capable of what they are capable of. You’re meant for this. Bred for it. Just something to keep in mind if things get tough.


When To Stick And When To Quit

In The Dip, Seth Godin draws an interesting analogy from the three types of people you see in line at the supermarket. One gets in a short line and sticks to it no matter how slow it is or how much faster the others seem to be going. Another changes lines repeatedly based on whatever he thinks might save a few seconds. And a third switches only once when it’s clear her line is delayed and there is a clear alternative and then continues with her day. He’s urging you to ask: Which type are you?

Seneca is also advising us to be this third type. Just because you’ve begun down one path doesn’t mean you’re committed to it forever, especially if that path turns out to be flawed or impeded. At that same time, this is not an excuse to be flighty or incessantly noncommittal. It takes courage to decide to do things differently and to make a change, as well as discipline and awareness to know that the notion of “Oh, but this looks even better” is a temptation that cannot be endlessly indulged either.


Life is a Battlefield

The writer Robert Greene often uses the phrase “As in war, so in life.” It’s an aphorism worth keeping close, because our life is a battle both literally and figuratively. As a species, we fight to survive on a planet indifferent to our survival. As individuals, we fight to survive among a species whose population numbers in the billions. Even inside our own bodies, diverse bacteria battle it out. Vivere est militare. (To live is to fight.) Today, you’ll be fighting for your goal, fighting against impulses, fighting to be the person you want to be. So what are the attributes necessary to win these many wars?

Here are the attributes we need.
And which attributes lose wars?

As in war, so these attributes matter in daily life.



The Truly Educated Aren’t Quarrelsome

Socrates famously traveled around Athens, approaching the people he disagreed with most, and engaging them in long discussions. In these discussions or what record we have of them there are many examples of his conversation mates getting exasperated, upset, or aggravated by his many questions. Indeed, the people of Athens eventually got so upset, they sentenced Socrates to death.

But Socrates never seemed to get upset himself. Even when talking about matters of life and death, he always kept his cool. He was much more interested in hearing what the other person had to say than making sure he was heard or as most of us insist upon winning the argument.

The next time you face a political dispute or a personal disagreement, ask yourself: Is there any reason to fight about this? Is arguing going to help solve anything? Would an educated or wise person really be as quarrelsome as you might initially be inclined to be? Or would they take a breath, relax, and resist the temptation for conflict? Just think of what you could accomplish  and how much better you would feel—if you could conquer the need to fight and win every tiny little thing.

Finding The Right Mentors

We are fortunate enough that some of the greatest men and women in history have recorded their wisdom (and folly) in books and journals. Many others have had their lives chronicled by a careful biographer from Plutarch to Boswell to Robert Caro. The literature available at your average library amounts to millions of pages and thousands of years of knowledge, insight, and experience.

Maybe your parents were poor role models, or you lacked a great mentor. Yet if we choose to, we can easily access the wisdom of those who came before us those whom we aspire to be like.

We not only owe it to ourselves to seek out this hard-won knowledge, we owe it to the people who took the time to record their experiences to try to carry on the traditions and follow their examples to be the promising children of these noble parents.


Mental Attitude

Success is in the blood. There are men whom fate can never keep down they march forward in a jaunty manner, and take by divine right the best of everything that the earth affords. But their success is not attained by means of the Samuel Smiles-Connecticut policy. They do not lie in wait, nor scheme, nor fawn, nor seek to adapt their sails to catch the breeze of popular favor. Still, they are ever alert and alive to any good that may come their way, and when it comes they simply appropriate it, and tarrying not, move steadily on.

Good health! Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every hand-clasp.

Do not fear being misunderstood; and never waste a moment thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your own mind what you would like to do, and then without violence of direction you will move straight to the goal.

Fear is the rock on which we split, and hate the shoal on which many a barque is stranded. When we become fearful, the judgment is as unreliable as the compass of a ship whose hold is full of iron ore; when we hate, we have unshipped the rudder; and if ever we stop to meditate on what the gossips say, we have allowed a hawser to foul the screw.

Keep your mind on the great and splendid thing you would like to do; and then, as the days go gliding by, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the elements that it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought that you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual you so admire.

Thought is supreme, and to think is often better than to do.

Preserve a right mental attitude the attitude of courage, frankness and good cheer.

Darwin and Spencer have told us that this is the method of Creation. Each animal has evolved the parts it needed and desired. The horse is fleet because he wishes to be; the bird flies because it desires to; the duck has a web foot because it wants to swim. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed.

Many people know this, but they do not know it thoroughly enough so that it shapes their lives. We want friends, so we scheme and chase 'cross lots after strong people, and lie in wait for good folks or alleged good folks hoping to be able to attach ourselves to them. The only way to secure friends is to be one. And before you are fit for friendship you must be able to do without it. That is to say, you must have sufficient self-reliance to take care of yourself, and then out of the surplus of your energy you can do for others.

The individual who craves friendship, and yet desires a self-centered spirit more, will never lack for friends.

If you would have friends, cultivate solitude instead of society. Drink in the ozone; bathe in the sunshine; and out in the silent night, under the stars, say to yourself again and yet again, "I am a part of all my eyes behold!" And the feeling then will come to you that you are no mere interloper between earth and heaven; but you are a necessary part of the whole. No harm can come to you that does not come to all, and if you shall go down it can only be amid a wreck of worlds.

Like old Job, that which we fear will surely come upon us. By a wrong mental attitude we have set in motion a train of events that ends in disaster. People who die in middle life from disease, almost without exception, are those who have been preparing for death. The acute tragic condition is simply the result of a chronic state of mind a culmination of a series of events.

Character is the result of two things, mental attitude, and the way we spend our time. It is what we think and what we do that make us what we are.

By laying hold on the forces of the universe, you are strong with them. And when you realize this, all else is easy, for in your arteries will course red corpuscles, and in your heart the determined resolution is born to do and to be. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis.


The Entrance Into Society

The desire of pleasing is, of course, the basis of social connexion. Persons who enter society with the intention of producing an effect, and of being distinguished, however clever they may be, are never agreeable. They are always tiresome, and often ridiculous. Persons, who enter life with such pretensions, have no opportunity for improving themselves and profiting by experience. They are not in a proper state to observe: indeed, they look only for the effect which they produce, and with that they are not often gratified. They thrust themselves into all conversations, indulge in continual anecdotes, which are varied only by dull disquisitions, listen to others with impatience and heedlessness, and are angry that they seem to be attending to themselves. Such men go through scenes of pleasure, enjoying nothing. They are equally disagreeable to themselves and others. Young men should, therefore, content themselves with being natural. Let them present themselves with a modest assurance: let them observe, hear, and examine, and before long they will rival their models.

The quality which a young man should most affect in intercourse with gentlemen, is a decent modesty: but he must avoid all bashfulness or timidity. His flights must not go too far; but, so far as they go, let them be marked by perfect assurance.

Among persons who are much your seniors behave with the utmost respectful deference. As they find themselves sliding out of importance they may be easily conciliated by a little respect.

By far the most important thing to be attended to, is ease of manner. Grace may be added afterwards, or be omitted altogether: it is of much less moment than is commonly believed. Perfect propriety and entire ease are sufficient qualifications for standing in society, and abundant prerequisites for distinction.

There is the most delicate shade of difference between civility and intrusiveness, familiarity and common-place, pleasantry and sharpness, the natural and the rude, gaiety and carelessness; hence the inconveniences of society, and the errors of its members. To define well in conduct these distinctions, is the great art of a man of the world. It is easy to know what to do; the difficulty is to know what to avoid.

Long usage a sort of moral magnetism, a tact acquired by frequent and long associating with others alone give those qualities which keep one always from error, and entitle him to the name of a thorough gentleman.

A young man upon first entering into society should select those persons who are most celebrated for the propriety and elegance of their manners. He should frequent their company and imitate their conduct. There is a disposition inherent, in all, which has been noticed by Horace and by Dr. Johnson, to imitate faults, because they are more readily observed and more easily followed. There are, also, many foibles of manner and many refinements of affectation, which sit agreeably upon one man, which if adopted by another would become unpleasant. There are even some excellences of deportment which would not suit another whose character is different. For successful imitation in anything, good sense is indispensable. It is requisite correctly to appreciate the natural differences between your model and yourself, and to introduce such modifications in the copy as may be consistent with it.

Let not any man imagine, that he shall easily acquire these qualities which will constitute him a gentleman. It is necessary not only to exert the highest degree of art, but to attain also that higher accomplishment of concealing art. The serene and elevated dignity which mark that character, are the result of untiring and arduous effort.



The Art of Conversation

The grand object for which a gentleman exists, is to excel in company. Conversation is the mean of his distinction, the drawing-room the scene of his glory.

In company, though none are "free," yet all are "equal." All therefore whom you meet, should be treated with equal respect, although interest may dictate toward each different degrees of attention. It is disrespectful to the inviter to shun any of her guests. Those whom she has honoured by asking to her house, you should sanction by admitting to your acquaintance.

If you meet any one whom you have never heard of before, you may converse with him with entire propriety. The form of "introduction" is nothing more than a statement by a mutual friend that two gentlemen are by rank and manners fit acquaintances for one another. All this may be presumed from the fact, that both meet at a respectable house. This is the theory of the matter. Custom, however, requires that you should take the earliest opportunity afterwards to be regularly presented to such an one.

The great business in company is conversation. It should be studied as art. Style in conversation is as important, and as capable of cultivation as style in writing. The manner of saying things is what gives them their value.

The most important requisite for succeeding here, is constant and unfaltering attention. That which Churchill has noted as the greatest virtue on the stage, is also the most necessary in company, to be "always attentive to the business of the scene." Your understanding should, like your person, be armed at all points. Never go into society with your mind en deshabille. It is fatal to success to be all absent or distrait. The secret of conversation has been said to consist in building upon the remark of your companion. Men of the strongest minds, who have solitary habits and bookish dispositions, rarely excel in sprightly colloquy, because they seize upon the thing itself, the subject abstractly, instead of attending to the language of other speakers, and do not cultivate verbal pleasantries and refinements. He who does otherwise gains a reputation for quickness, and pleases by showing that he has regarded the observation of others.

It is an error to suppose that conversation consists in talking. A more important thing is to listen discreetly. Mirabeau said, that to succeed in the world, it is necessary to submit to be taught many things which you understand, by persons who know nothing about them. Flattery is the smoothest path to success; and the most refined and gratifying compliment you can pay, is to listen. "The wit of conversation consists more in finding it in others," says La Bruy,re, "than in showing a great deal yourself: he who goes from your conversation pleased with himself and his own wit, is perfectly well pleased with you. Most men had rather please than admire you, and seek less to be instructed, nay, delighted, than to be approved and applauded. The most delicate pleasure is to please another."

It is certainly proper enough to convince others of your merits. But the highest idea which you can give a man of your own penetration, is to be thoroughly impressed with his.

Patience is a social engine. To listen, to wait, and to he wearied are the certain elements of good fortune.

If there be any foreigner present at a dinner party, or small evening party, who does not understand the language which is spoken, good breeding requires that the conversation should be carried on entirely in his language. Even among your most intimate friends, never address any one in a language not understood by all the others. It is as bad as whispering.

Never speak to any one in company about a private affair which is not understood by others, as asking how that matter is coming on, &c. In so doing you indicate your opinion that the rest are de trop. If you wish to make any such inquiries, always explain to others the business about which you inquire, if the subject admit of it.

If upon the entrance of a visitor you continue a conversation begun before, you should always explain the subject to the new-comer.

If there is any one in the company whom you do not know, be careful how you let off any epigrams or pleasant little sarcasms. You might be very witty upon halters to a man whose father had been hanged. The first requisite for successful conversation is to know your company well.

There is another precept of a kindred nature to be observed, namely, not to talk too well when you do talk. You do not raise yourself much in the opinion of another, if at the same time that you amuse him, you wound him in the nicest point, his self-love. Besides irritating vanity, a constant flow of wit is excessively fatiguing to the listeners. A witty man is an agreeable acquaintance, but a tiresome friend. "The wit of the company, next to the butt of the company," says Mrs. Montagu, "is the meanest person in it. The great duty of conversation is to follow suit, as you do at whist: if the eldest hand plays the deuce of diamonds, let not his next neighbour dash down the king of hearts, because his hand is full of honours. I do not love to see a man of wit win all the tricks in conversation."

In addressing any one, always look at him; and if there are several present, you will please more by directing some portion of your conversation, as an anecdote or statement, to each one individually in turn. This was the great secret of Sheridan's charming manner. His bon-mots were not numerous.

It is indispensable for conversation to be well acquainted with the current news and the historical events of the last few years. It is not convenient to be quite so far behind the rest of the world in such matters.


One Man Power

Every successful concern is the result of a One-Man Power. Cooperation, technically, is an iridescent dream things cooperate because the man makes them. He cements them by his will.

But find this Man, and get his confidence, and his weary eyes will look into yours and the cry of his heart shall echo in your ears. "O, for some one to help me bear this burden!"

Then he will tell you of his endless search for Ability, and of his continual disappointments and thwartings in trying to get some one to help himself by helping him.

Ability is the one crying need of the hour. The banks are bulging with money, and everywhere are men looking for work. The harvest is ripe. But the Ability to captain the unemployed and utilize the capital, is lacking sadly lacking. Your man of Ability has a place already. Yes, Ability is a rare article.

But there is something that is much scarcer, something finer far, something rarer than this quality of Ability.

It is the ability to recognize Ability.

The sternest comment that ever can be made against employers as a class, lies in the fact that men of Ability usually succeed in showing their worth in spite of their employer, and not with his assistance and encouragement.

If you know the lives of men of Ability, you know that they discovered their power, almost without exception, thru chance or accident. Had the accident not occurred that made the opportunity, the man would have remained unknown and practically lost to the world. The experience of Tom Potter, telegraph operator at an obscure little way station, is truth painted large. That fearful night, when most of the wires were down and a passenger train went through the bridge, gave Tom Potter the opportunity of discovering himself. He took charge of the dead, cared for the wounded, settled fifty claims drawing drafts on the company burned the last vestige of the wreck, sunk the waste iron in the river and repaired the bridge before the arrival of the Superintendent on the spot.

"Who gave you the authority to do all this?" demanded the Superintendent.

"Nobody," replied Tom, "I assumed the authority."

The next month Tom Potter's salary was enhanced, and in three years he was making ten times this, simply because he could get other men to do things.

Why wait for an accident to discover Tom Potter? Let us set traps for Tom Potter, and lie in wait for him. Perhaps Tom Potter is just around the corner, across the street, in the next room, or at our elbow. Myriads of embryonic Tom Potters await discovery and development if we but look for them.

I know a man who roamed the woods and fields for thirty years and never found an Indian arrow. One day he began to think "arrow," and stepping out of his doorway he picked one up. Since then he has collected a bushel of them.

Suppose we cease wailing about incompetence, sleepy indifference and slipshod "help" that watches the clock. These things exist let us dispose of the subject by admitting it, and then emphasize the fact that freckled farmer boys come out of the West and East and often go to the front and do things in a masterly way. There is one name that stands out in history like a beacon light after all these twenty-five hundred years have passed, just because the man had the sublime genius of discovering Ability. That man is Pericles. Pericles made Athens.

And today the very dust of the streets of Athens is being sifted and searched for relics and remnants of the things made by people who were captained by men of Ability who were discovered by Pericles.

There is very little competition in this line of discovering Ability. We sit down and wail because Ability does not come our way. Let us think "Ability," and possibly we can jostle Pericles there on his pedestal, where he has stood for over a score of centuries the man with a supreme genius for recognizing Ability.


Love and Faith

No woman is worthy to be a wife who on the day of her marriage is not lost absolutely and entirely in an atmosphere of love and perfect trust; the supreme sacredness of the relation is the only thing which, at the time, should possess her soul.

Women should not "obey" men anymore than men should obey women. There are six requisites in every happy marriage; the first is Faith, and the remaining five are Confidence. Nothing so compliments a man as for a woman to believe in him nothing so pleases a woman as for a man to place confidence in her.

Obey? God help me! Yes, if I loved a woman, my whole heart's desire would be to obey her slightest wish. And how could I love her unless I had perfect confidence that she would only aspire to what was beautiful, true and right? And to enable her to realize this ideal, her wish would be to me a sacred command; and her attitude of mind toward me I know would be the same. And the only rivalry between us would be as to who could love the most; and the desire to obey would be the one controlling impulse of our lives.

We gain freedom by giving it, and he who bestows faith gets it back with interest. To bargain and stipulate in love is to lose.

Perfect faith implies perfect love; and perfect love casteth out fear. It is always the fear of imposition, and a lurking intent to rule, that causes the woman to haggle over a word it is absence of love, a limitation, an incapacity. The price of a perfect love is an absolute and complete surrender.

To give a man something for nothing tends to make the individual dissatisfied with himself.

Your enemies are the ones you have helped.

And when an individual is dissatisfied with himself he is dissatisfied with the whole world and with you.

A man's quarrel with the world is only a quarrel with himself. But so strong is this inclination to lay blame elsewhere and take credit to ourselves, that when we are unhappy we say it is the fault of this woman or that man. Especially do women attribute their misery to That Man.

And often the trouble is he has given her too much for nothing.

This truth is a reversible, back-action one, well lubricated by use, working both ways as the case may be.

That form of affection which drives sharp bargains and makes demands, gets a check on the bank in which there is no balance.

There is nothing so costly as something you get for nothing.


You Can Do It

There are two kinds of people in this world. The first looks at others who have accomplished things and thinks: Why them? Why not me? The other looks at those same people and thinks: If they can do it, why can’t I? One is zero-sum and jealous (if you win, I lose). The other is non-zerosum (there’s plenty to go around) and sees the success of others as an inspiration. Which attitude will propel you onward and upward? Which will drive you to bitterness and despair? Who will you be?

No Harm, No Foul

Word can have multiple meanings. One usage can be harsh and another might be completely innocent. The same word can mean a cruel slur or a pile of sticks. In the same way, something said sarcastically differs drastically from something that was pointed and mean.

The interpretation of a remark or a word has an immense amount of power. It’s the difference between a laugh and hurt feelings. The difference between a fight breaking out and two people connecting.

This is why it is so important to control the biases and lenses we bring to our interactions. When you hear or see something, which interpretation do you jump to? What is your default interpretation of someone else’s intentions? If being upset or hurt is something you’d like to experience less often, then make sure your interpretations of others’ words make that possible. Choose the right inference from someone’s actions or from external events, and it’s a lot more likely that you’ll have the right response.


A Trained Mind is Better Than Any Script

It would be nice if someone could show us exactly what to do in every situation. Indeed, this is what we spend a good portion of our lives doing: preparing for this, studying for that. Saving for or anticipating some arbitrary point in the future. But plans, as the boxer Mike Tyson pointed out, last only until you’re punched in the face.

Stoics do not seek to have the answer for every question or a plan for every contingency. Yet they’re also not worried. Why? Because they have confidence that they’ll be able to adapt and change with the circumstances. Instead of looking for instruction, they cultivate skills like creativity, independence, self-confidence, ingenuity, and the ability to problem solve. In this way, they are resilient instead of rigid. We can practice the same. Today, we will focus on the strategic rather than the tactical. We’ll remind ourselves that it’s better to be taught than simply given, and better to be flexible than stick to a script.

Just Do It

Indecision wastes a lot of time, and time is too precious to waste. If you’ll become a confident, decisive person, you’ll accomplish a lot more with less effort.

No one learns how to hear from God without making mistakes. Don’t be overly concerned about errors. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are a fallible, imperfect human being, but you can rejoice with thanksgiving because you serve an infallible, perfect God.

Learn from your mistakes, correct the ones you can, and trust God for His guidance and protection. If you feel that God is prompting you to give something away, help someone out, or make a change in your life, do it! Take some action and sow seeds of obedience. When you feel you have guidance from God, move in faith instead of stagnating in doubt and fear.

Laws of Magnetic Action

FIRST LAW: Relation of Power to "Tone". The effectiveness of magnetism in action depends upon harmony of "tone" between its possessor and any other person, and in securing such "tone"  harmony, on any magnetic plane, in any particular psychic state, at any given time, psychic and physical magnetism mutually cooperate.

SECOND LAW: Magnetic Intention. The magnetic intention ("I INTEND MAGNETICALLY") intensifies otherwise unconscious magnetism, and runs through all the mass of general etheric vibrations like a theme in complicated music, imparting to them unity, character, intelligence, and definite and enormous effectiveness in practical employment.

THIRD LAW: Influence of Purpose. In the employment of magnetism, long-run purpose establishes etheric character, and specialized purpose confirms that character if it concentrates the general purpose, but confuses that character, perhaps destroys it, if it antagonizes the general purpose.

FOURTH LAW: Force of the Ideal. Idealism of motive determines the character of etheric vibrations, and idealism of magnetic activities determines the quality of magnetism achieved.

FIFTH LAW: Sway of Other Interest. The general sway of other  interest in life, and the particular influence of other interest on special occasions, impart to uses of magnetism enormous effectiveness, and not least in relation to self.

SIXTH LAW: Reaction of Admiration. The consciousness of admiration for others, recognized by them, reacts with tremendous power to stimulate magnetic action.

SEVENTH LAW: Measure of the Intake. In the magnetic life, intake of power is correctly measured by output of power: inversely in waste, directly in intelligent expenditure.

EIGHTH LAW: Adjustment. Magnetic effectiveness is proportioned to accuracy and fulness of adjustment, to things, to laws, to forces, to times, to situations, to qualities, to facts, to truths, to persons, and only studied experience can discover and establish such adjustment.

The problems of adjustment to persons are these:

With inferiors, to put self magnetically, without appearance of condescension, on their levels for the end in view, applying then the general principles of magnetism.

With equals, to apply the general principles.

With superiors, to assume their level while magnetically deferring, without adulation or humility, to such superiority, regardless of its reality or unreality, for the end in view, applying the general principles of magnetism.

NINTH LAW: The magnetism of identity. The magnetic value of adjustment expresses the force and completeness with which the individual can identify himself with another person, suggesting oneness through attitude, gesture, act, eye, tone, language, and telepathic sympathy.

TENTH LAW: The use of reactions. Magnetic skill exhibits in the manner in which beneficial reactions are received and utilized, negative or indifferent reactions are ostensibly ignored, yet constituted stimulation for further persistent magnetic action, and hostile reactions are refused, without ostentation, but with determination (if worth while) to "win out" through better adjustment and increased magnetic endeavor.

ELEVENTH LAW: Magnetic attack. Magnetic success demands the direct attack when etheric harmony of "tone" is assured, but the indirect method otherwise; that is, such attack-methods as will secure that harmony.

TWELFTH LAW: The conquest of antagonism. Magnetism ostensibly ognores, and refrains from, exciting antagonism; but, when antagonism is evident, rejects it and proceeds on the indirect attack, or openly accepts it and adopts the direct or the indirect method as the one or the other promises speediest and most perfect harmony of "tone".

THIRTEENTH LAW: Mortal antipathies. Success-Magnetism conquers the influence of deep-seated natural antipathies only by avoiding their causes.

FOURTEENTH LAW: Re-adjustment. The etheric life is unceasing reaction, and magnetism, therefore, demonstrates itself by squaring with every issue and making of every change and every defeat a new opportunity.

FIFTEENTH LAW: Control of output. It is an important to know when to open the circuit that is, to cut off the current of magnetic force as it is to know when to close the circuit to pour forth magnetic influences.

SIXTEENTH LAW: Concession. Concession becomes magnetic in its timeliness. If premature or belated, it defeats magnetism.

SEVENTEENTH LAW: Harmonic conditions. Magnetism enhances through beauty of personal surroundings, in cleanliness, order, adornment, art, literature, music, and the like.

EIGHTEENTH LAW: Sovereignty of will. is the director of native and unconscious magnetism and the creator and director of developed magnetism. Power of will is indispensable to magnetic power.

NINETEENTH LAW: Energy in magnetic action. The projection of magnetic influence proportions to inner, conscious intensity of psychic and nervous states. Exploding powder in the gun calls for the man behind the weapon, and the soul within the man, and powerful vibrations within the soul's arena, and magnetic intention within the vibrations, and psychic energy within the intention.

TWENTIETH LAW: Self-control. Magnetic power becomes effective precisely as mastery of self, in restraint and in handling, approaches perfection.

TWENTY-FIRST LAW: Magnetic handling of self. The attitude of magnetism, the magnetic intention and psychic pose, "I stand positively magnetic toward this person or this situation,"  constantly maintained, ultimately instructs in all the arts of magnetic self-handling through the law of auto-suggestion, and realizes in practical form its own ideals.

TWENTY-SECOND LAW: The magnetic mask. The mask of magnetism achieves effectiveness when it covers personal states and purposes in a manner positively to attract, and in that manner alone.

TWENTY-THIRD LAW: Magnetic consciousness. Intense magnetic consciousness without thought concerning it secures, by its uplifting and stimulating influence, the greatest exaltation of personal powers when employed.

TWENTY-FOURTH LAW: Magnetic faith. A deep and vital faith in the certainty of magnetic success renders all latent and developed magnetism dynamic, if that faith is thrown into action.

TWENTY-FIFTH LAW: The demand in use. In the application of magnetism to any task, intense, persistent demand upon the Universal Forces swings them directly into the effort.

TWENTY-SIXTH LAW: The affirmation in use. When, in the application of magnetism, one affirms, mentally, intensely, persistently, "I am receiving and exerting power," he unconsciously calls to aid all the success-elements and makes himself a center toward which the Universal Forces inevitably gravitate.

TWENTY-SEVENTH LAW: The magnetic telescope. The magnetic attitudes, faith, demand and affirmation, constitute a magnetic telescope through which the distant goal of success is magnified and all nearer obstacles, lures and irritating conditions are closed out of view.

TWENTY-EIGHTH LAW: Magnetic accumulations. Magnetism, through correct application to life, not only develops in the individual, but accumulates in his environment, and reacts beneficially without direct personal supervision.

TWENTY-NINTH LAW: The personal atmosphere. The personal atmosphere exactly reflects the inner self, and it furnishes a perfect field for magnetic effectiveness only when the self and the body are clean and buoyantly healthy. 

THIRTIETH LAW: Subordination of physical magnetism. In the subordination of physical to psychic magnetism, each finds its greatest effectiveness according to the relative development of both orders.

THIRTY-FIRST LAW: The fixed idea. Long-continued association with some fixed, great and attractive idea sets into operation certain deep, subconscious operations of the soul, which, for a time unrecognized and unmanifest in life, gradually and surely coordinate all individual powers thereto, induce a working of the whole system in harmony therewith, and finally emerge in the objective life and consciousness as a unified, actual dynamic force. The idea has swung the individual, has transformed him, has harmonized and intensified his faculties and his personal ether, has come to sovereignty in his personal atmosphere, and from there exerts a dynamic force upon other people and life's conditions.

This Article has tried to saturate you with the idea of success coordinating with its necessary elements, and has thus endeavored to swing your whole being into mighty belief that large success is also for you.


Try The Other Handle

The famous journalist William Seabrook suffered from such debilitating alcoholism that in 1933 he committed himself to an insane asylum, which was then the only place to get treatment for addiction. In his memoir, Asylum, he tells the story of the struggle to turn his life around inside the facility. At first, he stuck to his addict way of thinking and as a result, he was an outsider, constantly getting in trouble and rebelling against the staff. He made almost no progress and was on the verge of being asked to leave. Then one day this very quote from Epictetus about everything having two handles occurred to him. “I took hold now by the other handle,” he related later, “and carried on.” He actually began to have a good time there.

He focused on his recovery with real enthusiasm. “I suddenly found it wonderful, strange, and beautiful, to be sober.  It was as if a veil, or scum, or film had been stripped from all things visual and auditory.” It’s an experience shared by many addicts when they finally stop doing things their way and actually open themselves to the perspectives and wisdom and lessons of those who have gone before them.

There is no promise that trying things this way of grabbing the different handle will have such momentous results for you. But why continue to lift by the handle that hasn’t worked?

Just Don’t Make Things Worse

The first rule of holes, goes the adage, is that “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” This might be the most violated piece of commonsense wisdom in the world. Because what most of us do when something happens, goes wrong, or is inflicted on us is make it worse first, by getting angry or feeling aggrieved, and next, by flailing around before we have much in the way of a plan.

Today, give yourself the most simple and doable of tasks: just don’t make stuff worse. Whatever happens, don’t add angry or negative emotions to the equation. Don’t react for the sake of reacting. Leave it as it is. Stop digging. Then plan your way out.


No Shame in Needing Help

No one ever said you were born with all the tools you’d need to solve every problem you’d face in life. In fact, as a newborn you were practically helpless. Someone helped you then, and you came to understand that you could ask for that help. It was how you knew you were loved. Well, you are still loved. You can ask anyone for help. You don’t have to face everything on your own.

If you need help, comrade, just ask.


Listening Accomplishes More Than Speaking

Why do the wise have so few problems compared with the rest of us? There are a few simple reasons.

First, the wise seem to manage expectations as much as possible. They rarely expect what isn’t possible in the first place.

Second, the wise always consider both the best and worst case scenarios. They don’t just think about what they wish to happen, but also what very realistically can happen if things were to suddenly turn.

Third, the wise act with a reverse clause—meaning that they not only consider what might go wrong, but they are prepared for that to be exactly what they want to happen—it is an opportunity for excellence and virtue. And if you follow it today, you too will find that nothing surprises you or happens contrary to your expectations.

Brick By Boring Brick

Elite athletes in collegiate and professional sports increasingly follow a philosophy known as “The Process.” It’s a philosophy created by University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, who taught his players to ignore the big picture important games, winning championships, the opponent’s enormous lead and focus instead on doing the absolutely smallest things well practicing with full effort, finishing a specific play, converting on a single possession. A season lasts months, a game lasts hours, catching up might be four touchdowns away, but a single play is only a few seconds. And games and seasons are constituted by seconds.

If teams follow The Process, they tend to win. They overcome obstacles and eventually make their way to the top without ever having focused on the obstacles directly. If you follow The Process in your life assembling the right actions in the right order, one right after another you too will do well. Not only that, you will be better equipped to make quick work of the obstacles along that path. You’ll be too busy putting one foot in front of the next to even notice the obstacles were there.


Take A Walk

In a notoriously loud city like Rome, it was impossible to get much peace and quiet. The noises of wagons, the shouting of vendors, the hammering of a blacksmith—all filled the streets with piercing violence (to say nothing of the putrid smells of a city with poor sewage and sanitation). So philosophers went on a lot of walks to get where they needed to go, to clear their heads, to get fresh air.

Throughout the ages, philosophers, writers, poets, and thinkers have found that walking offers an additional benefit—time and space for better work. As Nietzsche would later say: “It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.”

Today, make sure you take a walk. And in the future, when you get stressed or overwhelmed, take a walk. When you have a tough problem to solve or a decision to make, take a walk. When you want to be creative, take a walk. When you need to get some air, take a walk. When you have a phone call to make, take a walk. When you need some exercise, take a long walk. When you have a meeting or a friend over, take a walk together. Nourish yourself and your mind and solve your problems along the way.


Prepared and Active

Whatever happens today, let it find us prepared and active: ready for problems, ready for difficulties, ready for people to behave in disappointing or confusing ways, ready to accept and make it work for us. Let’s not wish we could turn back time or remake the universe according to our preference. Not when it would be far better and far easier to remake ourselves.

Prepare Yourself for Negativity

You can be certain as clockwork that at some point today you’re going to interact with someone who seems like a jerk (as we all have been). The question is: Are you going to be ready for it?

This exercise calls to mind a joke from the eighteenth-century writer and witticist Nicolas Chamfort, who remarked that if you “swallow a toad every morning,” you’ll be fortified against anything else disgusting that might happen the rest of the day. Might it not be better to understand up front—right when you wake up—that other people often behave in selfish or ignorant ways (the toad) than it is to nibble it throughout the day?

But there is a second part to this, just as there is a second half of Marcus’s quote: “No one can implicate me in ugliness—nor can I be angry at my relative or hate him.” The point of this preparation is not to write off everyone in advance. It’s that, maybe, because you've prepared for it, you’ll be able to act with patience, forgiveness, and understanding.


Stay Focused On The Present

When you look back at some of the most impressive, even scary, things that you've done or endured, how were they possible? How were you able to see past the danger or the poor odds? As Marcus described, you were too busy with the details to let the whole sweep of the situation crush you. In fact, you probably didn't even think about it at the time.

A character in Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Lullaby says, “The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” Sometimes grasping the big picture is important, and the Stoics have helped us with that before. A lot of times, though, it’s counterproductive and overwhelming to be thinking of everything that lies ahead. So by focusing exclusively on the present, we’re able to avoid or remove those intimidating or negative thoughts from our frame of view.

A man walking a tightrope tries not to think about how high up he is. An undefeated team tries not to think about their perfect winning streak. Like us, they’re better off putting one foot in front of the other and considering everything else to be extraneous.


The Long Way Around

Ask most people what they’re working toward and you’ll get an answer like: “I’m trying to become a [insert profession].” Or they’ll tell you they’re trying to get appointed to some impressive committee or position, become a millionaire, get discovered, become famous, whatever. Now you ask a couple more questions, such as “Why are you doing that?” or “What are you hoping it will be like when you get it?” and you find at the very core of it, people want freedom, they want happiness, and they want the respect of their peers.

A Stoic looks at all this and shakes his head at the immense effort and expense we put into chasing things that are simple and straightforward to acquire. It’s as if we prefer to spend years building a complicated Rube Goldberg machine instead of just reaching out and picking up what we want. It’s like looking all over for your sunglasses and then realizing they were on your head the whole time.

Freedom? That’s easy. It’s in your choices. Happiness? That’s easy. It’s in your choices. Respect of your peers? That too is in the choices you make. And all of that is right in front of you. No need to take the long way to get there.


We Have But One Obligation

The Stoics believed, above all else, that our job on this earth is to be a good human being. It is a basic duty, yet we are experts at coming up with excuses for avoiding it.

The Definition of Insanity

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Yet that’s exactly what most people do. They tell themselves: Today, I won’t get angry. Today, I won’t gorge myself. But they don’t actually do anything differently. They try the same routine and hope it will work this time. Hope is not a strategy! Failure is a part of life we have little choice over. Learning from failure, on the other hand, is optional. We have to choose to learn. We must consciously opt to do things differently to tweak and change until we actually get the result we’re after. But that’s hard.

Sticking with the same unsuccessful pattern is easy. It doesn’t take any thought or any additional effort, which is probably why most people do it.


Real Good is Simple

Is it that controversial to say that there are the things that people value (and pressure you to value as well)—and there are the things that are actually good? Or to question whether wealth and fame are all they are cracked up to be? As Seneca observed in one of his plays:

“If only the hearts of the wealthy were opened to all!

How great the fears high fortune stirs up within them.”

For centuries, people have assumed that wealth would be a wonderful cure-all for their unhappiness or problems. Why else would they have worked so hard for it? But when people actually acquired the money and status they craved, they discovered it wasn't quite what they had hoped. The same is true of so many things we covet without really thinking.

On the other hand, the “good” that the Stoics advocate is simpler and more straightforward: wisdom, self-control, justice, courage. No one who achieves these quiet virtues experiences buyer’s remorse.


Our Sphere of Impulses

Here we have the emperor, the most powerful man in the world, quoting in his diary the wisdom of a former slave (and from what we know, Marcus might have had direct notes from Epictetus’s lectures via one of his former students). That wisdom was ultimately about surrender and serving the common good—about the limits of our power and the importance of checking our impulses something every person in authority needs to hear.

Power and powerlessness seem so rarely to enter the same orbit—but when they do it can change the world. Think about President Abraham Lincoln meeting with, corresponding with, and learning from Frederick Douglass, another former slave of considerable wisdom and insight.

In any case, all those men lived by the principles expressed here: that in our lives whether we’re experiencing great power or powerlessness it’s critical to leave room for what may happen and keep the common good and the actual worth of things front and center. And, above all, be willing to learn from anyone and everyone, regardless of their station in life.


Don’t Let Your Attention Slide

Winifred Gallagher, in her book Rapt, quotes David Meyer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan: “Einstein didn't invent the theory of relativity while he was multitasking at the Swiss patent office.” It came after, when he really had time to focus and study. Attention matters— and in an era in which our attention is being fought for by every new application, website, article, book, tweet, and post, its value has only gone up.

Part of what Epictetus is saying here is that attention is a habit, and that letting your attention slip and wander builds bad habits and enables mistakes. You’ll never complete all your tasks if you allow yourself to be distracted with every tiny interruption. Your attention is one of your most critical resources. Don’t squander it!


The Mind is All Yours

The body can be ravaged by disease or injured or disabled in a sudden accident. It can be imprisoned or subjected to torture. The breath can suddenly cease because our time has come, or because someone has taken it from us. Breathing can grow labored because of exertion or illness as well. But up until the very end, our mind is ours.

It’s not that the other two parts of life that Marcus mentions our body and our breath don’t matter. They’re just less “ours” than our mind. You wouldn’t spend much time fixing up a house that you rent, would you? Our mind is ours—free and clear. Let’s make sure we treat it right.


Turn It Inside Out

Stoicism is about looking at things from every angle—and certain situations are easier to understand from different perspectives. In potentially negative situations, the objective, even superficial gaze might actually be superior. That view might let us see things clearly without diving too much into what they might represent or what might have caused them. In other situations, particularly those that involve something impressive or praiseworthy, another approach, like that of contemptuous expressions, is helpful. By examining situations from the inside out, we can be less daunted by them, less likely to be swayed by them.

Dig into your fear of death or obscurity, and what will you find? Turn some fancy ceremony inside out and you’ll find what?


Make Character Your Loudest Statement

The monk dresses in his robes. A priest puts on his collar. A banker wears an expensive suit and carries a briefcase. A Stoic has no uniform and resembles no stereotype. They are not identifiable by look or by sight or by sound.

The only way to recognize them? By their character.

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