A Stoic's Guide to Being Antifragile: How to Win Amidst Chaos & Tribulation

A Stoic's Guide to Being Antifragile: How to Win Amidst Chaos & Tribulation

While we sell supplements to help men improve their health, hormones, and performance, our mission overall is to help men improve their health, hormones, and performance in any way possible, and how we think and deal with stress and worry may have the greatest impact overall on our quality of life and what we achieve in this life.

The truth: stress, fear, worry, they're useless. They don't actually help us solve the problem we face, they take away our happiness and freedom, and they're the result of being out of the moment. You can and ought to be content with what is while spending every second trying to achieve what is to come without fearing failure.

Or, ambition without stress, it's the optimal way to live and think. Stoicism, along with the work of author Nassim Taleb, gives us insight in how to achieve this.

In this guide, we'll explore what it means to be antifragile from a Stoic perspective. We'll look at examples like Stilbo, who Seneca praised for being indifferent to loss. We'll dive into insights from modern thinkers like Nassim Taleb who coined the notion of antifragility. And we'll uncover the Stoic principles and exercises you can start practicing today to build an unbreakable mindset, worry less, and stop stressing about things outside your control. Life may throw its curveballs, but with the Stoic strategies in this guide, you'll be ready to hit them out of the park.

What Does It Mean to Be Antifragile?

To be antifragile is to thrive in chaos and disorder. It means that you're more than unbreakable - you actually gain from stress, errors, and failures. The Stoic philosopher Stilbo embodied this mindset. When his city was captured and his daughters taken as captives, he remarked, "I have lost nothing." His peace of mind came from within, not from external things.

This isn't to say he was heartless, but to say he was unbreakable, which took the victory from his energy who'd done this to him.

Antifragility is cultivated, not inborn. As the philosopher Nassim Taleb says, "Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors."

Follow these principles to strengthen your mind:

-Aim high but expect obstacles. Set ambitious goals but prepare for setbacks. When facing difficulties, say "This is an opportunity to grow." Stay focused on your purpose.

-Focus on what you can control. Don't worry about what might happen. React to events, don't preemptively worry. Stay present and solve problems as they arise.

-Learn from your mistakes. View failures and hardships as learning experiences. Ask yourself, "What can I gain or improve from this?" Then make the necessary changes and move forward.

-Practice mindfulness. Spend time each day focused on your breath and the present moment. This reduces worrying about the uncertain future and helps you appreciate each day as a gift, because it is!

-Surround yourself with other strong minds. Spend less time with fragile, worry-prone people. Their anxieties can influence you and weaken your resolve. Instead, learn from and support others pursuing meaningful goals. If you don't have access to these people, spend time reading their words.

With practice, you can cultivate an antifragile mindset. Stay focused on what really matters to you and let the rest fall away. When facing difficulties, look for the opportunity to grow - that is the mark of a strong and virtuous person.

Cultivating an Unbreakable Mindset With Stoicism

To cultivate an unbreakable mindset, adopt the Stoic principles of focusing on what you can control and not worrying about external factors outside of your influence. As the Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."

Like the Stoic Stilbo, who remained calm when his city was destroyed and his daughters were taken captive, aim high but don't let setbacks stress you. Face misfortunes with courage and tranquility. Your peace of mind depends on you, not on external events.

Follow the Stoic dichotomy of control. Only concern yourself with what you can influence - your thoughts and actions. Don't waste energy on what you can't control. As Nassim Taleb says, "The only true antifragility is that of systems that gain from disorder." Thrive in adversity.

Negative visualization - imagining loss or failure - helps build resilience. When you worry less about potential problems, you're less likely to be troubled if they actually happen.

Practice discipline and courage. Do your part, accept what follows with equanimity. Don't complain or make excuses. Take action rather than reacting. Face challenges head-on.

Avoid hedonism and desire only what's necessary. The more you depend on external things for happiness, the more fragile you become. Find purpose and meaning within.

Guard yourself from desires that aren't your own. Society influences us in many ways, be careful and alert. Thinking that something will bring you happiness and peace is flawed, it never does. Being peaceful while striving because that's the way to be human, will not only help you achieve more, but it won't delude you into thinking those achievements will bring you happiness, and you'll maneuver the ebbs and flows of achievement with ease, with a clear mind, with correct decisions.

Follow your principles and values, not popular opinion. Your mind is your own, don't let others influence how you think or act. Be indifferent to indifferent things.

Don't do things that bring you shame. Strength is pure. Doing good things makes you stronger, and avoiding doing bad things (even if only in your own eyes) does the same.

With practice, you can cultivate an unbreakable mindset. No matter what happens, you'll remain strong, steady and focused on what really matters - living a virtuous life surrounded by people you care about. That's true antifragility.

Like Nassim Taleb advocates, practice becoming "antifragile" - actually gain from disorder or volatility. See setbacks as opportunities to grow stronger and wiser. Follow the Stoic principles and forge an unbreakable mindset. Let nothing disturb your inner calm and tranquility. Stand unmoved, like Stilbo among the ruins, with all your goods inside.

Embracing Adversity and Challenge

To cultivate an antifragile mindset, you must embrace adversity and challenge. As the Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote, "The good things of prosperity are to be wished; but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired."

See Opportunity in Obstacles

When facing difficulties, look for the opportunity and lesson. Approach each obstacle as a chance to practice strength and courage.

What's the Worst That Could Happen?

Ask yourself this to gain perspective. Often, the worst-case scenario is not as bad as we imagine. And regardless of what happens, we can choose our response. Epictetus said, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."

Focus on What You Control

Don't dwell on what you can't influence. Focus on your thoughts and actions - that's all you really control. As Marcus Aurelius wrote, "The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts." Let go of outcomes, external events and other's opinions. Stay focused on living virtuously.

To summarize, "Being antifragile is about loving randomness and uncertainty, gaining from disorder and chaos. The antifragile grows stronger from a certain class of errors and faults." 

Amor Fati, God's Plan

The Stoic principle of Amor Fati, or loving fate, and the religious principle of 'God's Plan', give meaning and peace to the worst of events. It's a way to frame the mind.

Bad things happen, nothing goes perfectly as planned, the best things take the more struggle, work, and persistence, so expect it, no, love it.

Whatever happens in life be strong in the fact you're doing your best, and that you can make it through any turmoil.

Stoic Principles for Eliminating Stress and Worry

Remember...

Focus on What You Can Control

Worrying about uncertainties outside your influence is pointless.

Accept Change and Impermanence

Everything changes and ends—relationships, health, life. Accept this truth and do not become attached. As Marcus Aurelius wrote, "The only thing that isn't worthless: to live this life out truthfully and rightly." Find meaning through living virtuously, not chasing fleeting pleasures.

Anticipate Obstacles

Expect challenges and setbacks. 

Focus on the Present

Do not dwell on the uncertain future or unchangeable past. As Epictetus said, "Don't seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well." Accept each moment as it comes and make the best of the present circumstances.

Aim High But Remain Detached

Set ambitious goals to fulfill your potential but understand that outcomes come when they come, not when you want them to come. The only way to ensure failure is to give up or pout because things aren't going your way.

Following these principles will strengthen your mind and eliminate stress and worry. You will become antifragile—able to thrive no matter what happens. Like Stilbo, you can lose everything but remain unbroken.

Conclusion

Life is tough. Things don't go our way. Sometimes randomness creeps into our lives and for no good reason our lives are turned upside down, but that doesn't mean we have to be turned around with it.

These are ideals, things to work on and aspire to. We have our ups and downs, we think incorrectly, we get down, broken, and depressed, but that's on us, and as such, it's on us to turn things around. 

This is how to best live, by being present, by controlling what we can and leaving the rest to God or fate or to life in general, and enjoying what is without worrying about what may come or spending too much time regretting what has been, merely learning from it instead.


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Written By Chad Howse

Chad is the founder and CEO of MITA Nutra, as well as the author of the Man Diet and the Lost Art of Discipline. Chad uses a simple, science-based method to creating supplements, programs, and guides, to help men thrive. Everything he does with MITA is designed to help you fuel your next win.