“No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don’t have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.”
What is stoicism?
Stoicism is defined as enduring pleasure or pain without showing emotion.
To combat negative emotions, stoicism emphasizes the cultivation of self-control and fortitude; the philosophy claims that becoming a clear and impartial thinker enables one to comprehend the universal reason (logos). It is a way of thinking that aims to improve us as individuals, parents, and professionals by increasing our resiliency, happiness, virtue, and wisdom.
Some of history’s greatest leaders have had a common trait: stoicism. Kings, presidents, artists, writers, and businesspeople have all used it. Aurelius Marcus. To mention a few, the Stoic school of thought had an impact on Frederick the Great, Montaigne, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Theodore Roosevelt, and General James Mattis.
The private diaries of one of Rome’s greatest emperors, the personal letters of one of Rome’s best playwrights and wisest power brokers, and the lectures of a former slave turned influential teachers contain some of the greatest wisdom in the history of the world and together, they constitute the bedrock of what is known as Stoicism—an ancient philosophy that was once one of the most popular civic disciplines in the West, practiced by the rich and the impoverished, the powerful and the struggling alike in the pursuit of the Good Life. Except for the most ardent seekers of knowledge, little is known or understood about stoicism.
Stoicism should be used to live a wonderful life, not as some obscure area of academic study, but as a tool in the pursuit of self-mastery, endurance, and knowledge. The Stoics were read, studied, admired, and quoted by everyone. Even the ancient Stoics weren’t slouched.
Who were the Stoics?
A handful of thinkers helped to form the Stoic philosophy.
- Marcus Aurelius
One of the most important historical figures was Marcus Aurelius. Emperor Aurelius, who presided over the Roman Empire for 20 years, fervently adhered to and lived the Stoic philosophy despite having unbridled authority.
He chronicled his daily struggles to live a constrained, smart, and moral life in his journal. He penned them only for himself; later, his works were rediscovered, gathered, and published as Meditations. One of the most important Stoic texts today is the collection. His writings offer a candid glimpse into the thoughts of a practicing Stoic, and he serves as a fantastic illustration of how Stoic techniques can ease people’s anxiety.
Watch our YouTube video to know more about the psychology of an emperor- Marcus Aurelius
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Lucius Annaeus Seneca had tremendous charm and a way with words because he was a statesman, a dramatist, and a writer. His writings are among the best resources for newcomers to interact with Stoicism because of his especially clear, engaging, and memorable method of expressing philosophy.
Seneca’s ideas also appeal to current audiences because of his remarkably realistic reflections on issues like companionship, mortality, altruism, and the efficient use of time. Have a look at Letters from a Stoic, one of Seneca’s more well-known works, here.
- Zeno of Citium
Zeno of Citium established the stoic school of thought. Shipwrecked close to Athens, he made the most of his misfortune by utilizing all the philosophical resources the city had to offer. He attended lectures from other schools of philosophy before founding his own.
The term “Stoicism” originated from the Greek word for porch, “stkos,” which he would use to demonstrate his thesis on the Stoa Poikile, an Athens porch known for its elaborate painting.
A former slave who rose through the ranks to become one of Stoicism’s most analytical philosophers. The Enchiridion, Epictetus’ manual, is a particularly useful examination of how to apply the Stoic philosophy in daily life.
He was especially good at demonstrating how Stoic principles enhance one’s quality of life and making a strong case for why one might choose to adopt Stoicism as their main philosophy. Many of his teachings are now widely recognized even if they were not originally his. The serenity prayer, for instance, is based on one of his tenets: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and knowledge to recognize the difference.”
What Are The 4 Virtues of Stoicism?
The four Stoic virtues are listed here.
- Despite our misgivings and fears, we have the Courage to lead us in the correct direction.
- We have temperance to keep our minds from being ruled by compulsive behavior, indifference, and greed.
- Justice is here to encourage righteous behavior that is beneficial to the entire community.
- The virtue of wisdom, which enables us to distinguish between what is good and wrong, permits us to view the world more clearly.
Watch our video to find out ways in which you can protect your mental health- Stoic perspective
Five Principles of Stoicism to Help you stay relaxed even in difficult situations
“Follow your principles instead of your feelings”
How the ancient Stoic philosophy might assist us in overcoming creative obstacles and producing our finest work? Read below!
1. Acknowledge that all emotions come from within
“Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
We generate our feelings by telling ourselves certain things, not by external factors that cause us to feel certain ways. It’s your thoughts, not a blank page, blank canvas, or unmarked task list, that are making you anxious. Since it’s simple to do, many of us prefer to shift the blame and responsibility for our actions to outside factors, but the reality is that all conflicts begin inwardly, in our brains. We only injure ourselves and undermine our self-discipline when we run from reality—a deadline, an urgent email.
The next time you encounter a barrier and experience resistance, avoid looking around. instead, turn to yourself.
2. Recognize that there is life after failure
“Does what’s happened to keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself? So remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Failure feels like that when you share a piece of yourself. However, bouncing back from failures takes skill and a shift in perspective. In reality, the knowledge I gained from that experience has helped me become a better worker. No failure, no growth, so the theory goes.
3. Remind yourself that time is your most precious resource
“Not to live as if you had endless years ahead of you. Death overshadows you. While you’re alive and able — be good.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Time is a crucial aspect of our lives. We can develop the beneficial habit of structuring and organizing our everyday activities with the aid of time. You can grow experience and abilities through time if you have a better understanding of the value of time. The most important resource is time because it cannot be changed.
4. Challenge yourself to be brutally honest
“‘A consciousness of wrongdoing is the first step to salvation.’ This remark of Epicurus’ is to me a very good one. For a person who is not aware that he is doing anything wrong has no desire to be put right. You have to catch yourself doing it before you can reform. Some people boast about their failings: can you imagine someone who counts his faults as merits ever giving thought to their cure? So—to the best of your ability—demonstrate your own guilt, and conduct inquiries of your own into all the evidence against yourself. Play the first part of the prosecutor, then of the judge, and finally of the pleader in mitigation. Be harsh with yourself at times.” — Seneca, Letters From a Stoic
It’s critical to pay attention to the cravings that prevent us from participating, committing, and being present. “Exactly why am I feeling like this?” Find out the truth about that. Look into it. Analyze it. Use resistance as a hint to move forward when you experience it. Of course, it can be difficult to teach your brain to think that way. It’s not a matter of talent or some ID (Freud) reaction. Self-awareness, or the ability to reflect on one’s own thoughts, is a skill that may be developed. It gets stronger the more you use it.
Know how you can silence your disturbed mind by watching our video!
5. The dichotomy of control
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.” – Epictetus
One of the most essential and deep notions in Stoicism is the dichotomy of control. It may even be said to be the basis upon which Stoicism rests. The dichotomy of control is the Stoic idea of separating things that are within our control, and things that are outside of our control. It involves figuring out:
- Things under your control: your ideas and behaviors.
- Things over which you have no control: everything else.
Know more about how you can live life accordance to nature
4 Stoic Exercises to Get Started in Learning How to be a Stoic
- Practice Misfortune
Seneca, who was very wealthy, recommended that we dedicate a certain number of days each month to living in poverty. Take some food with you, put on your ugliest outfit, and leave the comfort of your bed and home. If you confront your desire head-on, he claimed, you’ll wonder, “Is this what I used to fear?”
Keep in mind that this is just a practice exercise and not a rhetorical device. He does not mean to “think about” bad luck; he meant to experience it. Because you’re constantly concerned that something or someone will take it away, comfort is the worst form of servitude. But if you can not only foresee bad luck but also prepare for it, then chance loses its power to ruin your life.
Anxiety and terror are examples of emotions that are often rooted in uncertainty rather than experience. Anyone who has placed a significant wager on themselves is aware of the energy requirements of both states. Take action to combat such ignorance as a solution. Make sure you are familiar with your worst fears and their outcomes.
Practice your fears, whether they are in a mental or actual simulation. Almost typically, the negative effects are temporary or reversible.
- Take a bird’s- eye view
Marcus frequently engaged in a behavior known as “taking the view from above” or “Plato’s view.” It asks us to step back, enlarge, and view life from a position higher than our own. This exercise reminds us how small we are by asking us to picture all the millions and millions of people, all the “armies, farms, weddings and divorces, births and funerals,” etc. According to Stoic scholar Pierre Hadot, it reorients us and “changes our value judgments on things: riches, power, war… and the troubles of everyday life appear laughable.”
- Premeditatio Malorum
A Stoic activity called the Premeditatio Malorum (“the premeditation of ills”) involves contemplating negative outcomes or things that could be taken away from us. It aids in our readiness for the inevitable setbacks in life. Even when we have earned something, we don’t always get it. Not everything is as clear-cut and simple as we might imagine. We need to psychologically get ready for this to happen. One of the most effective exercises in the Stoics’ arsenal for enhancing toughness and resilience is this one.
Seneca, for example, would start by going over or practicing his ideas, like going on a trip. Then, in his mind, he would consider the worst outcomes or ways to avoid them.
- Train Perceptions
Turning the Obstacle Upside Down was a Stoic activity. They intended to make it impossible to not engage in the practice of philosophy. Because every “bad” may be transformed into a brand-new source of good if you know how to turn a situation upside down.
Imagine for a moment that you are attempting to assist someone, and they reply by being uncooperative or rude. The practice claims that rather than making your life more difficult, they are actually pointing you in the direction of new virtues, like patience or understanding. Alternatively, the passing of a loved one could present a test of your resiliency.
Download a free worksheet to practice Dichotomy of Control- A Stoic Principle.
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