The Stoic Handbook by Jon Brooks

Haters, Stoicism, and the Path to Creative Fulfillment

November 03, 2023 Jon Brooks
The Stoic Handbook by Jon Brooks
Haters, Stoicism, and the Path to Creative Fulfillment
Show Notes Transcript

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In this thought-provoking episode, we delve deep into the wisdom of Stoicism, specifically drawing inspiration from Epictetus's timeless teachings in the Enchiridion.
As a self-proclaimed introvert and content creator, I share personal anecdotes about the challenges and ridicule I faced when choosing a path less trodden. Through a blend of personal stories and philosophical insights, listeners will find encouragement to stick to their principles amidst the doubters and naysayers that inevitably accompany any journey toward greatness.

For anyone who's ever felt out of place for pursuing a passion, faced the sting of social ridicule, or struggled to maintain their course in a sea of doubt, this episode offers a beacon of solidarity and guidance. 

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My favourite quote in the entire Enchiridion portable handbook from Epictetus is chapter 22. This quote just hit me, struck me like a lightning bolt from Zeus. It gave me strength and supported me. Because I'm a content creator, I create things. I've been doing this since 2015, writing articles, creating podcasts, delivering talks and workshops, making YouTube videos. And it requires putting myself out there. And the difficult thing is that I'm actually a natural introvert. When I did the Big Five personality test, I would have been in the top 20 most introverted people in that room. The book Quiet by Susan Cain, when I read that, it's about introverts, felt like it was written about me. Everything struck a chord. So the path to becoming a content creator and putting myself out there has not been easy. It's much easier now, but in the beginning wasn't so much. And there's a chapter by Epictetus, as I was saying, that I really like. I'm going to read the quote in full. He says, If you commit to philosophy, be prepared at once to be laughed at, and to be made the butt of many snide remarks like, Oh, suddenly there's a philosopher among us! And Huh, what makes him so pretentious now? Only, don't be pretentious. Just stick to your principles, as if God had made you accept the role of philosopher. And rest assured that, if you remain true to them, the same people who made fun of you will come to admire you in time, whereas if you let these people dissuade you from your choice, you will earn their derision twice over." I don't know if you've had this before, but sometimes when you aim up in life, when you dream big and you put it out there, people around you feel insecure. You become a mirror and a trigger, highlighting their own failed ambitions. And as a result, they'll try to keep you small. They'll try to mess with your emotional state, judge you, give you strange looks, pull love and approval away from you. It's part of the path. Doing anything great, regardless of what it is, will come with haters that try to keep you the same. And this also happens with Stoicism and Philosophy. If you tell people that you want to become wiser. They're gonna say, some people are gonna be like oh philosopher? Yeah they don't make any money. Oh that's the most worthless degree you can do. Oh yeah you're just gonna sit around and ask deep questions. Go on then tell me the meaning of life. Ah look at her she's so arrogant, such a know-it-all. Must be all that philosophy stuff she's reading, pointless riddles and paradoxes. Or what about someone who says that they want to practice voluntary hardship? So you're telling me you're gonna get rid of pleasure to be happier? Yeah, that's a good idea. I'm sure that'll work. All of this doubt around us can dissuade us, but Epictetus reminds us, don't react to the snide remarks. Also, don't be full of yourself, don't be aloof and arrogant and pretentious. Unsurprisingly he would say, stay calm, stick to your principles, as if it were just part of your destiny. Every Friday I take the bins out, it's part of the routine. I don't think too much about it, it's just something I do. Stick to the routine, likewise you want to stick to your principles. And if you do, something magical will happen. The very same people that once made fun of you will eventually come to respect and admire you, and maybe even go so far as to ask, how did you become such a wise person? But there's a catch. to embark on any kind of path to greatness. The path of a philosopher, the path of a stoic, the path of a content creator or an artist. If you give up, if you leave the path, those haters will mock you with twice as much ferocity. I told you so. The crazy part of this is that the people who try to prevent you from reaching your own goals. At the same time, spend hours admiring people on social media who have made it. So why would they do it to you? Well, the closer someone is to us in their proximity, sex, age, the more envy they're likely to feel towards us. So therefore, the higher likelihood of ridicule. That's why our small group of friends that we live close to are probably going to try and hold us back more than the international cool people we meet online. The friends that I've met traveling for example all seem to encourage my creative pursuits. So as Epictetus instructs, stay true to your principles and stay on the path. The same people that once mocked you will soon come to you for advice. And remember, we're not there to take revenge. And if they ever do, we will be there, compassionate and helpful members of society, sharing value and returning home with the elixir. So here's the message. Whatever path you're on, stay on it. Doesn't mean stay on it foolishly. You still stay sharp, you can adapt. The obstacle that comes presents a new path forward. But don't let other people dissuade you. Only become dissuaded if your inner voice tells you to stop. You are the chooser of your destiny. You are the captain of your ship. Stay on the path my friends. I'll see you on the other side.