January 11th 2022 (Stoic Boot Camp challenge version)

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Fake it till you make it.

Today’s challenge isn’t as much as a challenge as it is a reminder. You create your own narrative about yourself and it really affects how you see yourself and how other people see you.

Thank you, Ryan. I really need to hear that this morning. Honesty, have completely covered the cost of the challenge with this timely reminder. It holds that much value to me.

I have been in a funk recently due to outside circumstances (I know I know). A combination of frustration and fear. I have been on my back foot as a result the last few days in particular. One would expect my stoicism to kick into high gear under such but alas that whole we are just human thing rears its ugly head.

However, this is a tool I have used without realising it for most of my life. As the email quotes.

Lewis tells the story of a time in grade school when he was sent to the headmaster’s office for insulting his English teacher. All Lewis remembers is that the headmaster said something about him being one of the happiest people the headmaster had ever met.

“I liked that self-definition,” Lewis said, “so I sought to preserve it.” In his mid 20s, he continues, “I could not help but notice the effect on people of the stories they told about themselves.” Some people are always the victim. Some people always get unlucky. Some people are always in the middle of something impossibly unfair. Some people are always getting the short end of the stick. “There are lots of versions of this,” Lewis said, “and you’ve to be very careful about how you tell these stories because it starts to become you. You are—in the way you craft your narrative—kind of crafting your character. And so I did at some point decide: I am going to consciously adopt as my narrative that I’m the happiest person that anybody knows. And it is amazing how happy-inducing it is.”

Now I confess I have often found my tendency to self aggrandize combined with my constant daydreaming to be more of a character flaw than a strength. But I can now see clearly how that tendency over the decades has borne me great fruit. I can also see how my current funk is directly related to having the wind taken out of those sails.

The details causing the funk may be reality. But this does me no good moving forward. I was once called onto the carpet for using the phrase “fake it till you make it” to a class of new hires. It was a common approach in my stockbroker days and I had no idea why my supervisor at the time was so vehemently against the idea. He acted as if I told the class to lie or commit fraud.

My jaw has since recovered from that floor drop, but I stood my ground then and I am standing my ground now. I declare myself to be something I am much more likely to act as the something I declare and eventually it becomes habit and second nature. Eventually it becomes me. This is different from say the visualization of The Secret or some such nonsense. This is about action rather than affirmations. It is a fine line. As Mark Manson points out in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

This is not about the Law of attraction. This is about starting and maintaining good habits. Being positive or loving or happy is a habit one can get into to. Much like being kind, confident, or helpful. The more one practices such activities, the more it will come naturally to you. Fake it till you make it.

So I will focus today on pretending to be happy, confident, and upbeat. Who knows, by the time I put my head on the pillow this evening, maybe I will be one of those things. It would make for a nice change.

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