Being “stoic” is something that’s frowned upon in the modern day.
In actuality, it is one of the most essential philosophies you can incorporate into your world view. Here’s why:
What stoicism is.
Stoicism is a branch of Greek philosophy that focuses on developing virtuous character, strength of mind, and indifference to outside events regardless of whether they bring pleasure or pain to the individual.
In stoicism, a strong emphasis is placed on the development of the individual. Stoicism is the hammer, the individual is the marble. Stoicism chisels away at the marble exposing the sculpture within.
What stoicism is NOT.
A good way to understand something is to explore it’s opposite.
Stoicism is NOT about relying on external events for fulfillment (Antifragility anyone?). Nor, should unsettling events well…unsettle you. You should just wear your backpack and keep climbing that mountain (soldier!). It’s an ancient version of “keep a stiff upper lip”.
Stoicism is NOT about being emotionless. No, we will not be using our best poker faces. Stoicism actually encourages feeling things more deeply. A lot of people in modern society will say you’re a sissy if you cry. This is complete bullshit.
Cry. But cry and be done with it. Don’t drag it around with you like a sack of potatoes.Stoicism is about acceptance, not rejection. Click To Tweet
Stoicism is NOT about being reactive. If someone says something bad about you and you seethe about it – you’re being reactive.
If your girlfriend puts up childish behavior because of an argument and you start begging her not to act like a brat – you’re being reactive.
How do you not be reactive? Simple. You must play the long game. Take the high road. Don’t let short term pain affect long term gain. Easier said than done, I know.
But remember this: if something feels easy, looks easy… it probably is. But you’ll pay the price for taking the easy road.
These quotes really drive the point home of the entire stoic philosophy.
“But putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future.” – Seneca, On The Shortness of Life
Procrastination is the thief of life. It wants nothing more than to send you to a grave with nothing but regret.
I view procrastination as the same way I would seeing a screaming child not wanting a flu shot.
Procrastination will take you further down that negative slight edge path into all sorts of trouble.
“Many are occupied by either pursuing other people’s money or complaining about their own. Many pursue no fixed goal, but are tossed about in ever-changing designs by a fickleness which is shifting, inconstant and never satisfied with itself.” – Seneca, On The Shortness of Life
If I had to say there was one quote that summed up stoicism, this would be it. We only have so long to live. Why waste it on bullshit?
This is my view: if I’m gonna do something, I’ll fucking do it. So let’s shut up…and get on it with. Indecision kills action.
When you have no end in sight, you just hop and skip from one thing to the next. But when there’s an end, today actually means something. When you set a deadline, today has value. It contributes towards that end that you want to get to.
“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Throw stones in a glass house and the house will come crashing down on you. Remember the golden rule.
Why you should adopt a stoic worldview
You’re probably saying to yourself at this point, “this is great…but why should I give a fuck about any of this?” Here’s why:
- More resilience – when put in the context of stoicism, hard parts of life become easy
- More clarity – when put in the context of inevitable things such as death, some things matter and others don’t at all
- Peace of mind – reading something like Meditations puts everything in perspective
In the 21st century world as young men, these three are a great thing to have. Who wants to feel like a leaf tossed in the wind? I sure as hell don’t. When you add some aspects of stoicism to your world view, you will start to find that it’s easy to filter out what’s not important and start going after what is. That will bring you one step closer to a life of your choosing and all the things that you want for yourself.
On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Enchiridion by Epictetus
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