Carl Jung said that everything before 40 is practice. I believe it. Through trial and error I think I’ve collected the proper tools to steer clear of chaos. At 44-years-old my main objective is to stay on a positive path of productivity and self-improvement. God is my guiding light. Stoic philosophy is my steady companion. Clear self-awareness is my compass. I believe a firm foundation for right living begins in a marriage of philosophy and religion.
It’s a tricky business to claim a philosophy. Like picking a faith, philosophy comes with countless options, flavors, and accessories. My combination platter of sanity contains generous helpings of the Stoics and the Episcopal church. As a fan of the Stoics, my philosophical footing is firmly in their camp. In 2018, I converted to the Episcopal church. Yes, there are points of historical and ideological contention between the two. So there is between people. So there is within ourselves.
Over time I will check back with blog posts about this process of evolution. Immediate changes are an increase in patience, improved listening ability, and fewer bouts of anger. Seneca says, “All cruelty springs from weakness.” Marcus Aurelius tells us, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” James 1:19-20 reads, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
There is a portion of one letter from the Apostle Paul I want to highlight: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5: 13-15)
Belief and logic are not anathema in my mind. They are an inspiring odd couple. Reality is best met straight on with an arsenal of reason in a leap of faith. How can you fail to be fired up to read:
“It’s time you realized that you have something in you more powerful and miraculous than the things that affect you and make you dance like a puppet.” – Marcus Aurelius
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” – Epictetus
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” – Viktor Frankl
I challenge you to do a bit of deconstruction and re-evaluation. Looking outside my two pillars of Stoic thought and Christian faith I pick up other ideas like Rene Descartes‘ bit about, “I think therefore I am,” and, “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” There’s the good ole standby of Socrates, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Circle back to the Bible, and in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “but test everything, hold fast to what is good.”
I am not suggesting anyone throw out what they know to be true. Keep what is good. Think about it. Follow your gut. Here I share my baby steps down a peaceful way in the woods that is far from lost.