Ota Dokan was a poet, architect, and licensed killer.
He was a Samurai with many talents during 15th century Japan.
Yet, like many warriors during his time, Ota suffered an early death. Yet even in that, he showed his talents.
Well, let me tell you the story of his assassination.
An assassin speared Ota.
And with the killing thrust, he recited the following lines from a poem:
"Ah! how in moments like these,
Our heart doth grudge the light of life;"
Without missing a beat, Ota completed the poem by reciting these lines:
"Had not in hours of peace,
It learned to lightly look on life."
Then Ota perished.
This story is famous in Japan because Ota perfectly demonstrated one of the virtues of being a samurai.
Can you guess the virtue?
It's always remaining calm. Now, this doesn't seem like a particular virtue. And I used to think like that too. But reading a ton of ancient works, I noticed that being consistently calm was a trait of many of the great men of the past.
And the more I kept reading, the more I saw the value of calmness. In this article, I'll show you three benefits (of many) for keeping your cool, which are:
A crucial part of courage
A significant part of character development
On to the first one: Solving adversity
When I was reading the Art of War, Sun Tzu stressed the importance of the general keeping a cool head. The Art of War commentary details how letting your emotions get the best of you will lead to defeat.
In war, it makes sense.
There is carnage, spying, challenges, etc., going on. So you must be calm to asses the constantly changing situation and adjust. But this isn't only for war.
This is for everyday life.
Our lives are constantly changing, and with change sometimes comes challenges. And when these challenges come out of the blue, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.
Yet, staying calm is what's needed.
Because with calmness, we can assess the situation clearly and act accordingly. It doesn't take much to make a mistake, and when our emotions are all over the place, it's even more likely that we will make one.
The commentaries for the Art of War mention numerous stories of generals not remaining calm and turning a simple miscalculation into the death of their army.
Calmness will prevent you from making a difficult situation worse. In fact, you will be able to see the correct path to find a solution. It's funny looking back on life, where I'm sure we all had experiences of making a bad situation worse.
All because of our emotions.
The most prominent example of this is George Constanza from Seinfield. Who lets his emotions tug at him all the time. Leading him to make countless dumb decisions.
So don't be like George.
Be calm, and you can solve your problems much better. Another thing you will be able to develop with calmness is courage.
Relationship between calmness and courage
Courage cannot exist without being calm.
Well, calmness shows you have the strength to not cave into nervous impulses. No matter how strong the impulses are, you offer the power not to be overcome by them.
So when you go into battle, have a big presentation, or deal with some form of non-lethal conflict. You can deal with it.
Unlike George Constanza, who can't help but fall for his nervous impulses and act like a coward.
But why am I picking on George so much?
He is a prime example of someone you do not want to be. Plus, I'm just in the mood to pick on him.
But I digress.
To become more courageous, you must be calm in those emotionally charged situations. And over time, your habit of staying calm will reinforce your brave muscle.
With calmness, you will have courage and the ability to solve challenging problems in life. And this process will lead you to develop a true character.
True character development
Full disclosure, our step-daddy Gracian inspired this section. Because in many of his writings, especially the ones about heroes, he mentions how calmness is part of perfection.
And without it, a hero is not a hero.
At first, it didn't click in my head. But again, looking back at the great people from history. You notice they had the best character of their time, and when I analyzed them even more, many had similar traits.
Although some traits were different here and there, calmness was the consistent one. From Julius Caesar to Seneca to Ota Dokan to Musashi to Abraham Lincoln.
They were all calm during the most turbulent times.
Yet, many of their peers let their emotions get the best of them, which led them to fail. One thing I love about Gracian is that he wants you to avoid imitating these heroes.
But to emulate them.
So as you work on yourself, make sure to exceed these heroes in calmness. Over time, it will only help you perfect yourself. So again, whenever you are speaking to your boss, trying to ask a cute girl out, or taking a game-winning shot.
Calmness will be your defining feature.
Now, this all sounds cool, but you might wonder if being calm always comes at a cost.
Won't this make me boring/dull?
There can be this misconception that calmness makes you dull. But let me bring up that list from a few sentences ago:
Julius Caesar, Seneca, Ota Dokan, Musashi, Abraham Lincoln. Were all these people boring?
These heroes showed that you could express your unique self without your emotions getting the best of you. Nobody is asking you to be boring.
Express your authentic self.
But when shit hits the fan, you can keep your head straight and deal with the challenges. Which, funny enough, will only add to your allure and help you perfect yourself.
I know this might sound like I'm hyping calmness, but a whole culture made this trait part of their code.
If you don't know, this is the samurai code. Yet it has influenced Japanese culture for centuries. This code shows you how to be a samurai and a wholesome person.
It has a lot of commendable aspects of it. And funny enough, calmness is an essential part of it. The Bushido Code understood that life was cruel and challenging (especially during the warring period of japan, where there was constant warfare among feudal lords for two hundred years). And the only way to deal with it was through calmness.
There was such an emphasis on calmness that even in death, it was not to be forgotten. That is why Ota spoke lines of poetry before his last breath.
Now I am not saying to go all Last Samurai like Tom Cruise.
But I want to show you that I am not making things up about calmness. Centuries of Japanese culture proved calmness to be an indispensable trait. And in a time when emotions run rampant on the internet, you don't need much reason to see calmness as a rarely practised trait.
However, despite all this, some of you might make the same mistake as the Sigma Males regarding calmness.
Repressing your emotions too much
Anyone who tells you to repress your emotions is an idiot. There is no other way to put it. Yet, when people discover the Bushido Code and read about calmness, they consider it is repressing their feelings.
Doing this will only hurt you.
Because to feel your emotions is to be human. We were created with emotions. Even the samurais knew not to repress their feelings. Heck, many of them were into the arts, such as poetry, painting, calligraphy, etc. Activities that require being in touch with your feelings.
Remember Ota Dokan was a poet?
Being an integrated person means you integrate your emotions into your being. You don't let them get the best of you, but you can allow them to flood your body.
Actually, when you let your emotions run through (and not over ) you, you will be at a great advantage.
Well, you will make better decisions. Rollo May, the great American existentialist psychologist, attested that you make better decisions when your emotions are involved. And without them, your development is stunted.
Emotions are what make you truly human.
So please treat them with the respect it deserves. Yes, they can be annoying, but like the countless samurais, you demonstrate the calmness to endure them.
And if you can do that, you're low-key unstoppable. But for your sake, I'll make my article stoppable here.
Three benefits of cultivating calmness are: Helps you deal with adversity, is a vital part of courage, and is part of developing true character.
Helps you deal with adversity: Calmness allows you to assess your challenges and solve them appropriately.
Calmness is a vital part of courage: Having the strength to not cave into your emotions is a sign of courage.
Calmness is part of developing true character: Many great heroes of the past, different as they were, had calmness as part of their character.
Being calm will not make you dull. You can express your authentic self but be calm during emotionally challenging times.
The Bushido Code has calmness as a central part of being a samurai. This code was developed over centuries and has survived the test of time.
Repressing emotions when learning to be calm is a mistake. Emotions are what make you human. Allow your feelings to flow through you, but not control you.
Calmness is underrated.
And I hope this article will allow you to cultivate this trait more in your life. Where you take another step closer to perfecting your character.
And when the time arrives, you'll show your perfect character even in death, just like Ota Dokan.
Until next time,
The Charismatic Nerd