Some time ago, I got a call from one of those friends who never called you, but if you need them, they are always there, one of the good ones, the ones that make you realize that you are not that good.
If you don’t have at least one friend like that, look for one.
My friend called me with the excuse of knowing how I was doing since it had been almost a year since he had called me last time, but deep down, he wanted some company.
We talked about inconsequential things: «How are things going?» «Do you remember that time when…».
At the end of many turns and many circumlocutions, my friend told me that a year ago -the same year we had not spoken to each other mother had died of a rare disease called ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
My friend only had his mother left because his father had passed away a long time ago, and his uncles and aunts did not speak to him because of the typical family disputes.
My friend was lonely and needed a friend. A little human warmth, and I gave it to him.
In return, he gave me such a great life lesson that I wanted to share it with all of you.
A bit of history
My friend’s life history is one marked by fatality and misfortune.
Years ago, he married a beautiful woman and emigrated to Argentina. Years went by. The family grows, but his wife died in childbirth when his third child was born. She died in his arms.
The world came crashing down on him, and he returned to Spain completely broke and with three mouths to feed.
He spent a couple of years working at whatever he could to put food on the table.
He worked with me at one of those low-paying jobs (in an insurance company).
Thanks to him, the job was no longer the most boring but an adventure.
We immediately became good friends and started working together.
We always used to move on an old motorcycle.
Every morning, when he came to pick me up for work, he always arrived with a smile.
I never heard him complain or see him cry until one day, I noticed him sad.
That day, he confessed to me about his wife and the financial hardships he was going through, as well as the bad relationship he had with his mother.
He confessed this to me because the anniversary of his wife’s death was approaching, and he was melancholic.
I listened to him attentively and prepared a surprise for him so that on the day of the anniversary, he would forget a little about it and have a better time.
On the anniversary day, he came to pick me up on the motorcycle as every day to go to work, and I came down from home with a beach cooler.
He didn’t understand anything. I told him we were not going to work that day; we spent the whole day at the beach, not just any beach: In a beautiful cove on the way to Cadiz.
When we arrived at the beach, there was no one. But a couple of hours after our arrival, two girls showed up who were friends and decided to take the day off like us.
The four of us had lunch together and had a great day.
I am too old to judge anyone, and I believe that the universe takes from you and the universe gives to you. And my friend, on the anniversary of his wife’s death on that beach, the universe gave him a beautiful bride that would make him very happy (at least for a time).
Another hit of life
Months went by, and my friend found time for everything: kids, girlfriend, work, friends, to go training with me every night. Etc.
Everything was going well. Again, my friend had money, love, friendships, and a life. But one day, when he got home, he found his girlfriend with someone else. -Life can be cruel when it wants to be.
The next day, he came to pick me up to go to work and told me what happened, but he kept smiling.
My friend is a person who does not give up and is not afraid of life.
He is a person who gives meaning to the word “father” because for my friend, as he proudly says:
«Success is that none of my children has ever stopped taking a sandwich to school for a single day.»
A 2017 study of psychological resilience among U.S. Army veterans shows those with higher levels of gratitude, altruism, and sense of purpose also exhibited more excellent resilience skills. And my friend is living proof that this is so. He was grateful for life even though it kept hitting him, and his purpose was clear: to take care of his children no matter what.
His mother’s death
Returning to the reason for his call (the death of his mother). My friend did not get along very well with his mother, but he still grieves for her loss because, as he says:
“My mother was not perfect, but no person is. My mother would call me on the phone every day and tell me I was useless, but you know….. Every day she called me. That was her way of worrying about me. Now that she’s dead, I don’t have anyone calling me every day to call me useless anymore.”
He asked me if I understood, and I said yes.
The one big lesson my best friend taught me.
My friend practiced stoicism without knowing it. He applied it in his daily life in a natural way. He taught me a great life lesson: how a stoic attitude can make you stronger.
Today, I want to transmit some points of this philosophical current so that you can implement them in your daily life and, like my friend, always be positive in the face of adversity and life’s challenges.
First, let’s define what philosophy is: If I had to know what “philosophy” is, I would say that it is the science that studies life to minimize the emotional cost of all the problems that we humans have throughout it.
Stoicism is a philosophical current founded by Zeno of Citium, a man who lived 300 years before Christ and who, being rich, lost everything when his ship sank. Then, he immersed himself in the study; he studied Socrates and other philosophers.
Today, we use stoicism to define someone who remains calm under pressure. And that is the famous way of looking at the life of Zeno and his disciples.
A stoic sees the world as it really is and, at the same time, always seeks to evolve through 4 cardinal virtues.
- Wisdom. The ability to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control,
- Temperance. The ability to moderate oneself.
- Justice. The ability to be fair to others even when they have done wrong.
- Courage. The ability to face with courage frightens us.
According to the Stoics, cultivating virtue and discipline works miracles.
For them, we do not suffer because of what happens to us. We suffer because of how we approach what happens to us.
To finish, I share with you five principles of the Stoics that can help you in your daily life.
- Live every day as if it were your last. You are not eternal; be aware of this, and your life will improve because you will take advantage of your limited and finite time.
- Do not overeat. The purpose of food is to feed you, not to make you weak. “Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.”-Socrates.
- Failure is natural. Regret is foolish. The only way to learn is to try. If you don’t try things, you can’t achieve them. Dare to fail and become a master.
- Focus on the little things. Focus on the things you can change, where you can make a difference, and stop worrying about what you can’t control. The sum of the little things makes life immeasurable.
- Expel vanity from your life. If you think you know everything, you will never learn anything.
To finish, I will share a stoic thought that gives a name to a book by the famous author Ryan Holiday.
“The obstacle is the path. Without the obstacle, you would not grow, my friend.”
Live your life focusing on what depends on you and stop wasting energy on what does not depend on you.
A virtual hug