Daily Stoicism: Seven Clear Functions of the Mind

Epictetus this time tells us that there are seven clear functions of mind: choice, refusal, yearning, repulsion, preparation, purpose, and assent. He concludes that only corrupt decisions made by a mind can pollute or clog its own function.

Thus far in January I’ve reflected pretty hard on choice, refusal, purpose, and assent. So far those have been the guiding principles of my reflections in the new year, so it may behoove me to reflect on the other three today.

Yearning sounds right at home in the stoic’s toolbox. I’ve yearned to be better so strongly that I’ve lost sight of all else. Yearning to become a cyclist, I did nothing in my free time but ride my bicycle. I read nothing but bicycling (non-fiction) books. I lengthened my commute to spend more time on the bike in the mornings and evenings. I yearned so strongly that I lost all control of my desires to improve. Yearning in a vacuum may not produce sustainable results.

Repulsion of negativity and bad impulses is something I am getting stronger at, but still on a path toward truly mastering. While having a deep conversation this week, I offered up the viewpoint that my optimism has grown over the past decade so much that I might not recognize myself now. I can’t yet say that I repulse negativity, but I have grown, strongly, to fight off negative responses and exude positivity. The world feels like a better place, even if I sometimes feel like I’m “faking it before I make it”.

“Fortune (luck) favors the prepared” - Louis Pasteur. After becoming entranced with the thought that luck could be a trait, like in D&D, I arrived on this quote. It has rang out in my thoughts and speech for the past few months. It put to bed my opinions that some people are lucky and some just aren’t. Preparation is a way for one to build their own luck, and they can supplement it with optimism and general outlook on life.