Thoughts on: ‘Stoicism and the Art of Happiness’ by Donald Robertson

I have adopted many powerful principles the last couple of years that increased my baseline happiness levels. One of the big ones, second only to learning to stop giving a shit about what people might think of me and what I do (still W.I.P 😉) ,is the Stoic idea of being indifferent to thing that are not under ‘our direct control’.

The weather, death, traffic, other people, outcome of soccer games, train delays, sickness, international politics etc..

So much anger, anxiety and frustration has been avoided since I fully committed to this principle. What a great source of fulfillment and tranquility!

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This book does a great job summarizing Stoic philosophy! Here’s some notes:

  • Mindfulness of what is up to us and what’s not is one of the main remedies for emotional suffering.

  • Set you intentions each morning and evaluate how you did each evening. Where did you act virtuously and where did you miss the mark? Review your actions and evaluate you conduct.

  •  ‘Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them’ – Epictetus

  • Novice Stoics should begin by training themselves each day:

1️⃣ To endure what they irrationally fear, or find aversive, with courage and perseverance.

2️⃣ To renounce, or abstain from, what they irrationally crave, through discretion and self-discipline.

  • Outcome independence: The goal of a Sage (the Stoics ideal) would not be to benefit others, which is beyond his control, but rather simply do his best to benefit them. Like an archer firing a arrow, his work is done when he has done his best, weather or not he hit his target.

This is a great book (even excellent if you ignore its repetitive textbook nature) that provides a great overview of Stoicism. It’s also full of exercises on how to apply the philosophy to everyday life.

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I still think Irvine’s ‘A Guide to the Good Life’ is the best starting point if you are curious about Stoicism (link in BIO). Which you should be! It’s an fascinating and very practical philosophy!

What principles have you picked up during the last couple of years that had major impact on your life?

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4/5

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Raw & Unedited Notes from “King Warrior Magician Lover”

King Warrior Magician Lover was where I took notes like crazy. Such a fascinating read! Here is my full unedited notes:


“In the late twentieth century, we face a crisis in masculine identity of great proportions“

It’s increasingly difficult to point out masculine and feminine essence.

One could look at the disintegration of the modern family systems as the main culprit, but important as that is, it’s not the whole story.

Two other factors:

⁃ Ritual process –

Traditional societies had standard definitions of what makes up boy psychology and man psychology.

Rituals to manhood has been abandoned or turned into pseudo-initiations. The mere ceremonial versions of these rituals don’t have the power to transform ones consciousness.

Lack of initiation into manhood leaves modern society to a dominance of boy psychology.

⁃ Patriarchy –

The other factor is patriarchy: patriarchy are the expression of the immature masculine. An expression of boy psychology and shadow (crazy) side of masculinity. The stunted masculine. The authors see patriarchy as an attack on both masculinity and femininity in its fullest. Boys fear women and boys fear teal men.

The Patriarchal male does not welcome full masculine and feminine development.

The more beauty, maturity, creativity and generativity we display the more envy, and hate we generate in superiors and peers.

Psychologists often assume it’s connection with the inner feminine that is missing. But the author believes it’s actually the connection with deep and instinctive masculine energies.

The little masculine one can hold on to is criticized by feminists.

We dont need less masculine power, but more mature masculine power.

In lack of rituals we have to each find our own way to man psychology and that’s the purpose of the book. To help us on our way.

Pseudo-initiations:

  • Military
  • Criminal gangs

Two reasons they are pseudo initiations;

  1. they are stunted and skewed and false. It’s patriartical manhood. There needs to be a death. The ego must die. Effective, transformative initiation slays the ego.
  2. absence of sacred space and ritual elder.

Jungians refer to masculine potentials as archetypes, or “primordial images”.

Jung and his successors have found that on the level of deep unconscious the psyche of every person is grounded in what Jung called the “collective unconscious” made up of instinctual patterns and energy configurations probably inherited genetically throughout the generation of our species. P9.

These archetypes are foundational.

– Boy psychology –

We are continually mistaking the controlling, threatening, and hostile behavior for strength.

The divine child

  • story of young Jesus, Moses , Orpheus
  • Superiority complex.
  • All powerful, center of the universe yet weak and helpless
  • Young at heart, well-being and enthusiasm for life.

The High Chair Tyrant

  • hurts himself with limitless demands and grandiosity and reject the very thing he need for life.
  • Arrogance
  • Irresponsibly
  • Childishness (in negative sense)
  • Stalin, Hitler, Caligula.

The Weakling Prince

  • Convincing his parents he is a helpless victim
  • Few friends
  • Little personality

In therapy, men, rarely identify with the Divine child, rather they need to get in touch with it.

When we are extremely tired or frightened we tend to regress into our Child, high chair tyrant or weakling prince.

The Precocious Child:

Precocious: unusually advanced or mature in development, especially mental development:

  • eager to learn
  • He causes us to wonder about the world around us and inside us.
  • Wants to know what makes people tick, as well as himself.
  • Introvert and reflective
  • Also extrovert and reach out to people
  • Can achieve cognitive detachment from people around him earlier than others.
  • Urge to help others with his knowledge.

The know-it-all Trickster

His energy comes from envy. The less a man is in touch with his true talents and abilities, the more he will envy others. Envy blocks creativity.

The trickster have no heroes. We can only admire others if we have a sense of our own worthiness.

⁃ The Oedipal child –

Shadow: mothers boy and dreamer

⁃ The hero –

The grandstander bully

  • impress others
  • Takes risk
  • Not a team player
  • Inflated sense of importance and his own abilities.

The coward

  • can’t stand up for himself in physical confrontation.
  • Acquiesce to pressure from others
  •  Doormat

⁃ Man psychology –

Four major forms of mature masculinity: king, warrior, magician and lover.

We have all archetypes within us. Like board members we need to make all of the heard.

⁃ King –

Kings in the ancient world was often ritually killed when their ability to live out the king archetype began to fail

⁃ The central archetype, around which the rest of the psyche is organized.

Two functions of the king when transitioning from boy to man psychology: ordering and blessing.

”The mortal King’s first responsibility is to live according to ma’at, Darma, or the Tao. If he does, the mythology goes, everything in the kingdom – that is, the creation, the world – will also go in the Right Order.”

The king gives his men and blesses the most competent and loyal ones with opportunity, and recognition. E bestows his blessing.

Being praised has enormous psychology consequences for us. Studies show that our body changes chemically when we feel values, praised and blessed.

Young men today crave blessings from older men, starving for king energy. They need to be blessed for their legitimate talents and abilities.

The king guides and nurtures others towards their own fullness of being. It rewards and encourages creativity in others.

The shadow king: tyrant and the weakling

The Tyrant exploits and abuses others. Merciless. Hates all beauty, creativity innocence, strength talent and life energy

Verbal and psychological abuse. But also physical and sexual abuse.

Malignant= Elak, ondskefull.

The tyrant king is operating in narcissistic personality disorder. Drug lords, pimps, mafia bosses.

He is sensitive to criticism and puts on a threatening front.

The weakling king: lacks centeredness, calmness and security in himself. Paranoid. (The sect leader in Holy hell?)

Abdication syndrome: hallmark of the Weakling. People turn over their own inner King energy to “the Fürer”. Giving power over our lives to .

The Warrior

Alert and mindful. Knows what he wants and how to get it.

As a function of his clarity of mind he is a strategist and tactician. He has awareness of the shortness of life. Every act counts.

The sense of imminence if death energizes the man accessing the Warrior energy to take decisive action.

His control is first of all over his mind and attitudes.

He does not live like most people, he is a spiritual machine, trained to bear the unbearable in the service of a transpersonal goal.

He is emotionally distant as long as a man is accessing the warrior. “Unavailable” or “inaccessible”.

The warrior in his fullness operating without the other archetypes (king and lover) can be disastrous because of his detachment.

The shadow warrior: the sadist and the masochist.

Detachment in itself is not a bad thing but it opens doors to the “demon” of cruelty.

The masochist

Darth Vader

The sadist:

Stay long hours, workaholics, people don’t live up to their standards (nor themselves). Don’t take care of them selfs physically or mentally. Then it’s probably the shadow warrior in you.

“Any work that puts a great deal of pressure on a person to perform at his best all the time leaves us vulnerable to the shadow system if the warrior”

If we are not secure enough in our inner structure, we will rely on our performance in the outer world to bolster our self confidence. 🔑

The Magician:

The energy of the magician is twofold:

⁃ The knower and master of technology

⁃ “The ritual elder” who guides the process and transformation, both within and without.

Merlin, Obi-wan

Initiator of secret and hidden knowledge off all kinds, in himself and others.

All knowledge that takes special practice to acquire the province of Magician energy

An apprentice electrician or shaman are in exactly the same position.

Gnosticism: movement in Ancient Greece seeking deep psychological knowledge. Gnosis=knowledge

Thoughtfulness and reflection. Introversion.

Manipulator &the “innocent”

The man under the power of the Manipulator not only hurts others, he huts himself.

In the fear of making the wrong decision, he makes none.

The passive pole of the Magicians shadow is what we are calling the Naive, or “Innocent”.

The “innocent” wants status that traditionally come to the man who is a magician, at least in societally sanctioned fields. But he doesn’t want to take the responsibilities the belong to the true magician. He doesn’t want to share and teach.

Hides truth for the sake of achieving and maintaining status.

Motivations come from envy of those who act, who live, who wants to share.

Lover

The lover is the archetype of play and if “display”, of healthy embodiment, of being in the world of sensuous pleasure and in ones own body without shame.

Feeling a oneness with all.

The artist and the psychic.

Connoisseurs

The fans and buffs

When we stop to smell the roses..

Any man living in the shadow form of the masculine energies, is possessed by the very energy that could be a source of life and well-being for him, if accessed appropriately. The shadow side works to his destruction and the destruction of others.

Shadows: the Addicted and the impotent

Question for the Addicted lover: “why should I put limits on my sensual and sexual experience of this vast world, a world that holds unending pleasures for me?”

The addicted lover gets lost in an ocean of the senses. Everything makes strong impressions on him.

Pulled here and there. Not the master of his own fate.

Addiction to cigarettes and addictive behaviors.

Monogamy (though not in a simple yay) can be seen as a mans own deep rootedness and centeredness. He is bounded, not by external rules, but by his own inner structure.

The Impotent

Lack of enthusiasm, lack of vividness, lack of aliveness. We will feel bored and listless. Symptoms psychologists call the “flattening affect”.

Conclusion:

What today is called patriarchy is really “puerarcy” (I.e the rule of boys) like Lord if the flies. Systems of initiation, previously making mature masculine energy accessible, have broken down.

Active imagination: imaginative dialogue with the archetypical energy forms.

Unwanted energies acting up, like children, really just want to be noticed, honored and be taken seriously. Ones validated, the stop acting up.

Invocation: across masculine energies in fullness in their positive form. Focused imaging.

Look at images of the archetypes and read about the gods that represent the archetypes.

The pyramid, a symbol for the masculine self.

A related technique is admiring. Admire other men, dead or alive. Have contact with older men. Read biographies.

Act “as if”: act the king and all of a sudden you feel like a king.

This book is concerned about helping men to take responsibility for the destructiveness of immature forms of masculinity.

 

Check out my reading lists for more great books!

Raw & Unedited Notes: “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan B. Peterson

I had more note than I could possibly share in my review. Here is the full batch. Raw and unedited!


If we put ourselves in order maybe we will do the same for the world?

Author of “map of meaning”

Wrote an answer of quora and struck a home-run.

Our religious stories where moral rather than descriptive.

Why are shared beliefs so important to us that we are ready to the destroy the world for their cause? (The Cold War). A shared belief systems simplifies everyone and it simplifies the world around them. Making it easier to predict action of others and cooperate. It takes the world.

We as individuals need to take responsibility of all of the world and all of its suffering.

“If we all lived properly, we will collectively flourish”

The poor and stressed always die first. “When the aristocracy catches a cold the working class dies in pneumonia “

1. Shoulder back!

Serotonin: increased by winning. Used in antidepressants. Proud posture.

Prices law: winner takes all, a fraction of the work of a fraction of the people that composed classical music created the music that people still know and love. Mathews law.

Dominance games has been part of lobsters lives for almost an eternity. To the the dinosaurs we are the new kids on the block.

Dominance hierarchy is real! It has survived and been selected for eons. A near eternal aspect of the environment.

If we get defeated too many times we get depressed and can’t muster the energy that society and everyday life demands from us.

Low serotonin means: decreased confidence, lower tolerance to stress, less happiness, more pain and anxiety, shorter lifespan.

The importance of this can hardly be overstated.

The lower you are in the hierarchy the more you have to be on guard. It’s dangerous in the lower ranks and you have to spend a lot of energy reacting to your surroundings.

Routine is necessary, the stuff we do everyday needs to be automatized – it must be turned into stable and reliable habits so that they gain reliability and lose complexity.

If depressed: get your sleep in order and eat a proper breakfast.

Positive feedback loop: example: curing ones hangover with more alcohol.

Acgriophopia: fear of going outside.

One foot in order and one in chaos is the way forward.

Render the people you care about competent not protected

If we want to take care of ourselves we need to respect ourselves, and we don’t..

If they know you can bite you are less likely to have to.

If you say “no!” early and clearly it stops attempt at exploitation and bullying.

You don’t have to be low status! Maybe you can stand up for yourself.

Alter you body expression.

Posture.

If you present yourself as defeated people will perceive you as a loser.

Stand tall and speak your mind! Dare to be dangerous.

Rule 2: treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

Rule 3

Doing anything was not cool! (My childhood)

You are associating with people that are bad for you because it’s easy.

Maybe your default assumption should be that the person has rejected the way upward just because it is challenging and hard?

You should associate with people who aim to make the world a better place. Who’s life’s improves when your life improves. If you surround yourself with people who support your upward movement they will not tolerate your cynicism and destructiveness.

They will instead encourage you when you do good for yourself and carefully punish you when you do not.

People who are not aiming up will do the opposite. They will offer a former smoker a cigarette and a former alcoholic a beer. They will be jealous.

Explore you resentments.

“What you aim at determines what you see”

While a more simple book would say “you will attract what you focus on”

Peterson will say the same thing but going to the root cause of its: how the sight and seeing works and how expensive our sight is to use. How our goals or focus then determines what we see in the world. How the priorities change. If we want to focus on trouble we see trouble, if we focus on opportunity, we see opportunities.

A problem is that we try to individualize problems, no matter how rare, must be solved by societal reconstruction . We try to include smaller and smaller numbers of people, who do not and will not fit in societies ordering structure.

Sometimes it’s the individuals in it that are corrupt. (Bookmarked)

“As hard as it is to believe, a patient adult can defeat a two year old.”

We feel more negative about a loss or a certain size than of a reward of the same size. Pain is more potent than pleasure.

If a child has not learned to behave properly by the age of 4 it will forever be difficult for him or her to make friends.

Rule 6: set your house in perfect order before criticizing the world.

Don’t blame your enemies, capitalism or the leftists. Don’t reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience!

With time, I came to understand through the great George Orwell that much of such thinking found its motivation in hatred of the rich and successful instead of true regard for the poor.

“Aim up, pay attention, fix what you can and don’t be arrogant in your knowledge , strive for humility, be aware of your weaknesses. Consider the murderousness of your own being before condemn and judge others. Maybe you missed the mark? And most importantly, don’t lie! Lying is the path to hell.”

Rule: “tell the truth, or at least don’t lie”

Ideologs : “capitalism is bad”. Chooses an axiom and view the world only from that point.

Rule: “assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”

Straw man argument: oversimplify, parody distort someone’s position

“People organize their brain with conversation. If they don’t have anyone to tell their story to they lose their mind”

Rule 10: “be precise in your speech”

You and I are simple, as long as the world behaves. It’s when I breaks down that complexity is revealed. A working car is a thing that takes us where we want to go. But when it breaks all the complex parts of the machinery that makes it work reveals itself. Society is the same.

“The past is not necessary what it has been even thought it already was” as in the case of a partner being caught having a long going affair.

“Even what is terrible in actuality often pales in significance compared to what is terrible in imagination”

Rule 11: don’t bother children when they are skateboarding

“The smell of the unemployable” – the odor of a body and psyche that is not working right.

“Why does it so often seem to be the very people standing so visibly against prejudice who so often feel obligated to denounce humanity itself?”

“It’s the pursuit of goals that in large parts lends life its sustaining meaning. We experience almost all the emotion that makes life deep and engaging as a consequence of moving successfully towards something deeply desired and valued.” The price we pay for this is inevitable hierarchy. Equality would sacrifice value itself and there would be nothing worth living for. But! Despite hierarchy there are many games to play and many winners!

There are only two major reasons for resentment: being taken advantage of, or allowing yourself being taken advantage of, or whiny refusal to take responsibility and grow up.of you are resentful, look for the reasons.

The eatapel mother: I will do anything for you as long as you’d don’t leave me. The witch in Hans and Gretchen. The terrible mother. Etable?

Too much protection devastates the developing soul.

Deus ex machina: Latin: god from a machine.

Maybe the environmental problem is ultimately spiritual? If we put ourselves in order maybe we will do the same for the world.

“I hope this books revealed things you Knew but didn’t know our knew”