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Stoic Street Smarts

5 quick tips to control your temper and stop being scared

Published 7 months ago • 4 min read

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Most people are aware of the traits of neuroticism and anxiety. If you aren’t, this short anecdote will sum it up nicely:

Someone asked on Twitter if I ever get afraid, and another person who saw me post my Big Five personality results responded, “He is several standard deviations below the average in neuroticism. He legitimately doesn’t experience negative emotions like the rest of us.”

This isn't *exactly* true. I get sad and angry, just like every other human. The difference is that I've learned how to control and transmute those emotions rather than being controlled and transformed by them.

The rest of this email gives you five valuable tips for doing the same thing in your life.

If you get something out of this email, I'd love for you to follow me on Linkedin or Instagram—whichever is your poison of choice.

Active Gratitude

I’ve been to the bottom several times in my life. I’m grateful to be alive and still here despite that. I was born with almost every statistical disadvantage against me, yet I’m still here and flourishing. It’s impossible for me to have a bad day because I know how bad the days can truly be.

This gratitude allows me to constantly and immediately ask myself, “Could it be worse?”. If I’m not in prison or dead, the answer is always “Yes!”. Many people understand the mindset shift but not the discipline of the practice.

If something happens to you, good or bad, immediately ask if it could be worse. If you have your health and freedom, it isn't that bad, and you have the ability to make it better.

Growth Mindset

I used to have a fixed growth mindset.

Many of my childhood woes come back to the idea that if I wasn’t good at it, there was no hope for me to ever be better at it. It wasn’t until I started playing sports that I began to see that it’s possible to improve your abilities beyond what you first started with.

With a growth-based mindset, you believe you can learn and do anything with enough effort and time. Obviously, genetic limitations will keep many from becoming the best at something, but it’s not necessary to be the best at anything; only to be the best version you can be.

As a result of my growth-based mindset, I don’t believe anything is beyond my reach. All I have to do is practice. This means that there is no reason for me to ever feel discouraged, envious, or limited. I can have or be almost anything.

Patience

Bad things happen quickly. Good things tend to take a while.

Understanding this makes you feel confident when something takes time to develop. In fact, you come to completely distrust anything that comes quickly and easily.

One reason that people get angry is because things don’t happen quickly enough. Many people tell me they feel anxious when they think something is about to happen. I look at time gaps between action as an opportunity for rest, relaxation, recharge, and planning my next move.

Most importantly, I know that the more time I have, the better I can prepare for anything--expected or unexpected. In this way, I’ve taken something which gives many people a negative experience and turned it into one of my greatest strengths.

Appreciation For The Small Things

This is related to gratitude but on a micro-scale.

I’m happy for my pets the same way I am for the people I love.

I’m happy to have a fresh cup of coffee the same way I’m happy for a home-cooked holiday meal.

I feel the same level of happiness when I can help a kid understand math that I feel when I learn a new skill myself.

All things make my life happy. Not only do all things make me happy, but they all do so equally. I do not say this for exaggeration, hyperbole, or poetic effect. I feel overwhelming happiness for all things in my life.

I don’t feel sad or depressed when things leave me. I simply shift my focus to something else wonderful about my life. Since I’m always building with my growth-based mindset and I’m patient enough to wait for good things to happen, I have plenty to be happy about.

My Value System

I don’t value material things. This is not to say I don’t think material things are nice to have, but they are fleeting.

They degrade, decompose, and can be destroyed. They carry no memories. You get angry when you lose them, and much violence can be traced back to people fighting over things.

Stuff doesn’t equal happiness. So what will make you happy? It’s not the absence of material objects that will make you happy; It’s focusing your energy on things that take your emotions and offer a return on investment in them. This means I focus on experiences, good meals with people, conversation, connection, making a difference, and my craft.

Those items have one thing in common: they all depend on *my* frame of reference and actions. Even good food--which requires money--is only good because of the experience that goes along with it and the people I share the meal with.

At the end of the day, all you’re left with is your memories and the memories people have of you--and even then, those will eventually fade.

In summary

I rarely get stressed out because I try to control all aspects of my life. The ones I can’t, I don’t worry about.

I’m happy about everything because everything teaches me a lesson. I’m happy for everything because everything is a part of life.

Stoic Street Smarts

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