The goal of Stoicism is for you to experience Happiness, eudaimonia. To achieve this you need to live with wisdom, courage, justice, and moderation. In Stoic words: you need to live virtuously.
Unless you're a sage, this is easier said than done.
How to live according to the Stoic virtues? How to get to a more balanced state? Through discipline.
Stoicism is a system to provide us with this discipline and live smarter. One of the most important Stoic insights is that our thinking not only influences our actions but that it also defines our emotions. Not being aware of this causes suffering.
As humans, we can travel in time. Within a split second, we can move to any point in our past, come back to the present, and wander off years into the future. How is this possible?
We do it in our minds, hundreds of times a day.
Mental time travel is a real thing. It’s an aspect of our unique kind of consciousness which has brought us a lot. On the other hand, mental time travel can also screw you up.
The past is something you have no control over. The future is unpredictable and uncertain. The only thing that’s real is the present.
What you do this very second can affect you for years to come. Epictetus said it right:
"When you relax your attention for a little while, do not imagine that whenever you choose you will recover it, but bear this in mind, that because of the mistake which you have made today, your condition must necessarily be worse as regards everything else."
- Epictetus -
The present moment is the soil for the future. If you don’t act wisely now, you will most likely hurt yourself in the future. Without a focus on your present thoughts, emotions, and actions, it becomes damn near impossible to be a Stoic.
Practicing Stoicism means you’re constantly monitoring yourself, and intervening with helpful strategies when you’re about to be swept along by thoughts and emotions.
But focusing on what’s happening to you from moment-to-moment is easier said than done. Having systems that nudge you toward the good is essential. In this article, I'll outline three strategies.
"Those who do not observe the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.”
- Marcus Aurelius -
Stoicism is a Hellenistic philosophy that's been around for over 2,300 years, and it has the potential to change your life.
Some liken Stoicism to an "operating system" for the mind. It's a philosophy that helps you make better decisions and stay calm, regardless of what happens in life.
And no, being Stoic does not make you emotionless; to the contrary! After reading this article you’ll know what Stoicism has to offer, and how adopting the Stoic worldview can benefit you.
But why should an ancient Greek philosophy interest you? Don’t we have enough philosophies and religions as it is?
Stoic philosophy is a unique approach to life. It contains wisdom that's been hidden for many Westerners, but that's still alive and kicking in Eastern philosophy.
Yes, Stoicism contains ideas found in other wisdom philosophies like Buddhism and Taoism. How’s that possible?
It's because ancient Stoic philosophers understood the human mind, and came to similar conclusions as other ancient philosophers around the world.