Smiling when you don’t actually feel like smiling is the coolest thing in the world

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People love talking about “immortality” and “divine beings,” but this – this is the equivalent of modern transcendence. If you can do this, you’ve essentially “won.” You have risen above the petty qualms and quibbles of contemporary life. You are truly a warrior of the post-postmodern era.

I’d like to say that I’m above the pettiness. I’d like to imagine, of course. But everybody loves “imagining,” don’t they? Imagining that you have a good life, imagining that there’s going to be “peace on earth,” imagining that there’s “bound to be life out there, somewhere else in the universe.” You can imagine success. And, of course, you can also imagine failure.

Most people don’t imagine failure.

I am most people.

I lie. I argue. I enjoy stupid dramas. I get emotional. I hold grudges. I like staring at my own reflection. I don’t like eggplant. I don’t like giving up my free time. I don’t like it when I see someone else wearing the same outfit. Man, I don’t even like it when I see someone wearing the same shirt, let alone an entire outfit.

Could I change those negative aspects about myself?

Yeah.

Am I going to?

No.

But let me tell you about those who do – or rather, those who did. Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe you’re not. I’m not, but I like pretending that I am. And here I go, talking about people who I barely know, preaching a philosophy that I barely follow – this is a blog post about good people, paraphrased and rewritten by a well-meaning, but bad person. This is a post about those who’ve truly “transcended” from the traditional planes of thought. They are:

The Stoics.

Maybe you’ve heard of ’em. Maybe you haven’t. It’s about a bunch of old, dead, and relatively sane Roman guys who had a little too much time on their hands to think about stuff. That’s right – it sounds kinda cool, and it sounds kinda vague – exactly what I aspire to be like. If you understand what I mean – good. If you don’t – great.

Now, I’m not gonna bore you with history. I’ll get into the meat of it. I’ll skip the pseudo-science stuff, too.

The idea is: you control your emotions. The world is ever-changing, and happiness is ephemeral; you cannot control the things that happen around you, but you can control yourself. You are not a slave to your emotions. This does not mean that you should ignore your emotions, but you should instead embrace them for what they are, and understand how they affect you.

I’ve been angry before. I think I’ve been justifiably angry before. I’ve said mean things. And I’ve done mean things.

Was I justified in my actions?

Maybe.

Were any of them necessary?

No.

Sometimes, it’s nice to vent. It’s nice to let out all your frustrations against something, and scream out against the cosmic injustices of this world. Look, even the name of my blog – “I love myself when I’m angry” – advocates getting angry. It’s natural. It’s not always “a bad idea.”

But it’s not necessary. And “natural” doesn’t always mean “good.” There are alternatives to getting angry. If you change your perspective, you can find peace in all things. You can be calm when you don’t want to be calm. You can smile when you don’t want to smile. You can be happy when you don’t want to be happy.

I think being happy is a lot better than being angry.

Not that I’ll change the name of this blog to “I love myself when I’m happy,” of course – the changing part’s up to you. I love myself when I’m angry. But you might not. And Stoicism is just the thing to fix that.

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