It is often misinterpreted as a serious approach to life, with suppression of emotions and withdrawal from the outside world. However, it is actually a set of simple rules that can help you achieve better results with less effort. It is a philosophy that can be applied in everyday life and at work.
Stoicism is the approach to practical matters. Stoicism is a school that grew in antiquity in Greece and Rome. It is one of the most profound and lofty philosophies that Western civilization has ever recorded. . In urging participation in human affairs, Stoics have always believed that the goal of all inquiry is to provide a mode of conduct characterized by the tranquility of mind and certainty of moral worth.
What is Stoicism?
Stoicism, also known as Stoic philosophy, is a philosophy that focuses on personal ethics and provides a method for finding practical wisdom in your life. Stoics believed that we don’t react to events, but we react to our judgments. The judgments are up to each of us. The Stoics advised us not to worry about events beyond our control, as all things in life can be divided into two categories: things that are within our control and those that are not.
Stoicism believes that the key to a happy, healthy life is to cultivate a great mental state. The Stoics associated virtue with rationality. A harmonious life means living in harmony with Nature and being indifferent to external events. It was established in Greece by Zeno around 300BC. The early Stoic works are mostly lost, and it is the Roman Stoics that have been the most influential throughout the centuries and still are.
Stoicism is simply a philosophy that aims to make people live the best lives possible.
It is a philosophy that promotes positive emotions, decreases negative emotions, and encourages individuals to develop their character virtues.
Stoicism can be used to help you live well in any circumstance, at any age, or in any time period. Stoicism reminds us of the most important things and gives us practical ways to make more of those valuable things.
Stoicism was designed to be easy to understand, practical, and useable. Stoicism does not require you to learn a new philosophy or meditate for hours every day. It is a practical, immediate, and useful way to improve your character and find peace.
Virtues of Stoicism
Stoicism’s four most important virtues are wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice.
- Wisdom can be divided into good judgment, good calculation, and quick-wittedness.
- Courage can be divided into cheerfulness, endurance, confidence, and high-mindedness.
- Temperance can be divided into discipline, seemliness, modesty, and self-control.
- Justice can be subdivided into honesty, fair dealing, equity, and integrity.
To put it another way, stoics seek to find the best possible solution to every situation in life by displaying these four behaviors. Aurelius stated, “If you ever come across anything more than justice, truth, self-control, and courage, it should be something extraordinary.”
Stoicism: Learning, Practicing and How it helps you
Detachment and realism
Because we can’t control the external world, stoics emphasize learning how to control our thoughts, feelings, and desires. All good and bad things come from within. Desire, for example, can make us unhappy; it is about wanting something we don’t have. We must let go of attachments and the seeking out the benefits of the outside world to achieve peace, tranquility, and freedom.
Epictetus believed (and the mindfulness practice of today echoes this sentiment) that “very little is required to lead a happy and fulfilled life.” It all lies within you and your thinking.
Although Stoicism doesn’t promote the learned optimism of positive psychology or strategies to maintain positive emotions (preferring equilibrium), it does place emphasis on virtue ethics, building resilience, and character.
Stoics accept reality and live in harmony with it. We must accept that death is inevitable, and we must strive to live virtuous and purposeful lives with humility, kindness, compassion, and dedication to a higher good. Virtue is the only thing that can always contribute to happiness and is sufficient for it. Ryan Holiday, a contemporary stoic champion, rejects the pessimism label attached to Stoicism. He sees it as another form of optimism. Each situation, no matter how bad or good, presents an opportunity for us to live out one of these stoic virtues.
After Thomas Edison’s research and facilities were destroyed by fire, he displayed himself as a model for the stoic idea of Amor Fati, which is a willingness to accept and even embrace whatever happens. Edison responded to his son by saying to him: “Go get mom and all her friends.” Edison calmed himself. It’s okay. “We just got rid of a lot more rubbish.”
You might be worried that Stoicism isn’t funny; if you still think so, you might as well be wrong. Seneca says that laughter, and lots of it, is the best way to deal with the things that drive us to tears.
Using Stoicism at work
Stoicism is not meant to be discussed but lived. Its “tools” are easily transferable to the workplace. Living by the cardinal virtues provides a framework or moral compass to guide us. Many of the teachings of Stoicism are also reflected in modern workplace psychology.
This topic has been the subject of many books, and there are numerous practical applications. They offer at least four ways that Stoicism can help you thrive and cope at work.
Stoicism can help us build resilience when faced with change and impermanence.
Technological advances have fueled a world of constant and rapid change in the modern workplace. The careers of today will not be the same as tomorrow. Many of yesterday’s “hard” skills are now obsolete. Today’s success is based on ‘human’ skills such as adaptability and resilience. These are the skills that Stoicism teaches. Stoics don’t resist change but accept it as a natural part of existence and that we cannot control external influences. Stoics believe that even when change is bad (e.g., a co-worker who is valued leaves), the only thing that causes suffering is our inability to accept it. We should instead embrace the possibilities that a new colleague may bring.
Stoicism can help us overcome anxiety, stress, and other obstacles.
Although we cannot control the outcome of events or situations, we can control our reactions to them through our thoughts and actions. Stoicism does not mean suppressing emotions. It is about changing them through understanding their connections to beliefs and attitudes.
Practicing misfortune (sometimes called negative visualization, but its more stoic name is premeditation Malorum, – premeditation of evils) could be considered a form of strategic pessimism that helps us to see things from a different perspective and acknowledge our gratitude. According to William B. Irvine (A Guide to the Good Life), it involves “giving thought to the things that you value most in life and then imagining losing those things.”
This process helps us appreciate what we have, and it can also be used to prepare us for the worst-case scenario and even help us avoid them in some cases. Seneca, the immortal sage, said that misfortune is most heavy on those who expect only good fortune. It is possible to see the glass half full and have some wisdom, as well as a lot of humor.
Stoicism encourages us to do things and promotes time management.
Stoics are action-oriented and opposed to “spineless inertia.” Stoicism’s cardinal is hard work and perseverance, and more.
Seneca, like Socrates, stressed that time is the most valuable thing we have.
Not all activities are good for you. You need to use your time efficiently, ignore distractions, and achieve sustained attention, which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to as “flow.” Stoicism says that not all activities are equally valuable. Therefore, we need to choose what we do with our time and focus on the important and valuable.
We should not put off the most difficult tasks at work. Instead, we should get to them first. Aurelius asserts that “the impediment that prevents action from being taken advances action…what stands in the path becomes the way”. This means that every obstacle that we face is a way to move on to the next action. Action is the cure for procrastination.
Stoicism helps you to be more self-aware, emotionally intelligent, and confident.
EQ is the foundation of Stoic philosophy. It is also key to thriving at work, where “soft” or “human” skills are essential. Travis Bradbury, in a post to The Daily Stoic, wrote that the Stoics were pioneers in focusing attention on what is today somewhat snidely called “soft skills.”
We must look within to build EQ. This means we have to take responsibility for our actions and challenge distorted thinking. For example, “I didn’t win the pitch; I’m a failure” can be changed to “The pitch didn’t go well today, but I have won many other pitches and can improve my technique.”
Marcus Aurelius was a champion of self-reflection and role-modeling through journaling. His journal, originally called “To Him,” was published posthumously under the title “Meditations.” It was not intended to be published but rather as a means of understanding and growth. Stoicism emphasizes that self-confidence and self-esteem are derived from within and not from external validation. It should be the result of living a life with purpose and following a moral framework. Seneca concluded, “Be your own audience; seek your own applause.”
Train your mind
This might appear to be a way to downplay the real problems people face every day. For someone struggling to feed their family, how can thinking differently help? This was something that the Stoics were not afraid to admit. They were openly aware that sometimes life can be difficult.
Seneca was acutely aware of this fact. He suffered exile and multiple bereavements before finally being forced to kill himself by Nero. It was easy to say, “I don’t want these external things to disturb me,” but it was quite difficult to do so and not be disturbed.
The Stoics created a series of exercises that would help people incorporate Stoic ideas into daily life. Seneca suggested taking stock at the end of each day and noting any irritations or angrily reacting to people who might not have deserved it. He hoped to learn from his mistakes and do better the next time he did it again.
Accept what happens
Another Stoic strategy is reminding ourselves of our relative insignificance. The world doesn’t revolve around us. In his Meditations, Aurelius often reflected on the vastness and infinity of the universe. This was to help him understand his short life.
Our lives are only moments when viewed from a cosmic perspective. This is why we shouldn’t expect the universe to deliver what we want. It would be absurd to assume it will conform to our wishes.
Epictetus said that if the universe doesn’t deliver what you want, it will disappoint you. But if the universe gives you what you need, life will be much easier. This is not an easy task, but people are increasingly taking this Stoic advice seriously and trying to implement it in their daily lives.
Summary of Modern-Day Stoicism Application
The Stoics suggested that we spend some time imagining that the things we treasure have been lost. Our wife has gone missing, our car is stolen, or our job is lost. Stoics believed that this would make our wives, cars, and jobs more valuable than they otherwise would.
Dichotomy Of Control
Distinguishing between things that we have total control over and those over which no control is possible.
Stoics Internalize Goals
Stoics discovered a way to maintain their peace despite being involved in the world around them. They internalized their goals. Their goal was not to change the world but to do their best to bring about certain changes. Even if their efforts proved to be ineffectual, they could nevertheless rest easy knowing that they had accomplished their goal: They had done what they could.
Fatalism towards Past and Present
The Stoics recommended fatalism towards past and present. There are things that you can change or act upon in the future. The past is already here and cannot be changed. You don’t have complete control over the present in this very moment.
This is an extension of negative visualization. “Besides considering bad events happening, we should sometimes live like they had occurred.”
Regularly assessing your progress in practicing Stoicism.
Confusion can lead to people thinking that Stoics are passive and unemotional.
Stoicism isn’t an individualistic philosophy that focuses only on self-discipline. Stoicism focuses on social responsibility, such as loving your neighbor, helping others, and forming virtuous relationships.
The Legacy of Stoicism
The history of thought has been greatly influenced by Stoicism. Their ethics and theology had a profound impact on the development of many communities. The Stoic’s legacy also extends into the modern era, setting precedents in philosophy for certain elements.
There is a lot of interest in Stoicism today. Modern Stoicism hosts international events such as Stoicon and Live Like a Stoic Week that promote Stoicism as a viable way to live.
The Stoics spoke of how we can be happier, more capable people who are able to deal with all of life’s challenges. You can make your life easier by learning from misfortune; you will be stronger when you face adversity; you can turn obstacles into opportunities; you can avoid distress by recognizing the limitations of your abilities; you can keep your ego in check by putting things in perspective.
Stoicism is not a systemic philosophy but a collection of tips and tricks for living a happy life. It’s a soothing balm for the pain of living. Stoicism is a way to keep calm in the face of difficult situations.