- By Shiva Chiluveru, 18 May 2021 | 8 MIN READ
Stoicism is one of the ancient Greek philosophies which came into existence during Hellenistic period (period between the Death of Alexander the Great and the End of the Macedonian Empire 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire). Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius are three important philosophers in Stoicism.
Imagine you are a wealthy businessman and one day you have lost all your wealth and left with no house or money, how would you react or behave to such situations? Such misfortune would drive any one into despair or depression. But Zeno citium took into his stride and laid foundations to one of the most pragmatic philosophy of the western civilization which came into being as Stoicism. People who follow Stoicism are referred to as Stoics.
Stoicism approaches life in a more practical way and emphasizes more on the virtue of an individual rather than the health or wealth which are external. The core belief of stoicism is that universe operates according to cause and effects or universal reasons which they refer as Logos. Stoicism maintains that self-control and courage are very important tools to overcome destructive emotions in the face of adversity. It’s the fundamental belief among stoics that we have to control on external factors which affect our happiness or wellbeing but what’s in control is how we respond to such external stimuli
Stoics do not have any lofty ideas about life or believe in any utopian theories. They take life as it is. Misfortune may befall upon and which they will, Stoicism concerns are more about how you deal with such tribulations. Reason and logic are at the forefront of Stoic philosophy to understand the process or nature or Logos, pervading in all aspects of life. Living with reason and virtue is to live in harmony with the universe or nature. Stoic philosophy stresses on the importance of self improvement through four cardinal virtues.
4 Cardinal Virtues
Wisdom: Being pragmatic is essential. Any situation can be handled with a logical, informed and reasonable mind with a calm composure.
Temperance: Self-restraint is important and all aspects of life have to be dealt with a balanced mind.
Justice: Stoicism calls for fairness without any prejudice or discrimination even with those who are on the wrong side.
Courage: It is significant to show courage not in just unprecedented circumstances, but in facing daily challenges with integrity.
It doesn’t mean Stoicism encourages passivity or indifference. But on the contrary it urges to act judiciously with self-control and virtue.
Let’s look at 15 inspiring Stoic principles which can guide you to navigate modern lives with ease.
1. Mind of a warrior: Be pragmatic and practice the art of living with mind of a warrior, clarity under pressure and strong belief in own capabilities.
2. Reflect on your actions: Stoicism stresses on actions. Everyone is free to express their highest self in every moment but its actions that matter. It’s very important to reflect on your actions from time to time.
3. Mindfulness: Be alert and aware about the actions you take. Take best actions possible in any given situation with complete cognizance.
4. Opinions Matter: If we pay attention to how we react to situations, it’s safe to come to conclusion that, it doesn’t matter what happens around us or to us but it’s the opinions we carry in our minds that matter. Opinions cloud our judgement.
5. Respond, don’t react: It’s important to be calm in every situation. But if you need to express or act in a given situation respond with awareness but don’t react impulsively.
6. What’s in your control? : The core philosophy of stoicism is based on how you respond or what you can control. We cannot change or alert things or situations which are not in our control. So don’t worry about situations which are beyond your authority, let life happen and accept it.
7. Take responsibility: Happiness or your wellbeing is in your hands or in your own actions. Don’t let external circumstances influence the joy of your life.
8. Time is life: Once it’s gone, you cannot get it back. Have clarity and prioritize your time for what’s essential. Delete or eliminate mundane. Time is precious.
9. Accept Life: Stoics are strong believers in Universal law or Logos. Acceptance is the key for happiness. Whatever happens, it’s according to cause and effects of the universe.
10. Check your emotions: Stoics are not swayed by emotions. They endure life’s sufferings and renounce. They have the self-discipline to resist their feelings.
11. Be calm: Let not the trifles of life agitate your mind. Be tranquil. Tranquillity of mind is paramount. One cannot be better judges of situations with an agitated mind. Practice calmness.
12. Be strong mentally: Let the weak do the complaining and whining. In the face of adversity be courageous and exhibit virtuous behaviour.
13. Exclude mundane: Have minimalistic approach towards lifestyle with what is necessary rather then what your desire. Discard all non-essential things in life.
14. Practice Kindness: It’s a virtue to be kind even to the one who has done wrong. It takes strength to forgive and love even those who flounder.
15. Listen: Words once said cannot be taken back. Listen more then what you say. It’s always better to trip and fall then to say what you didn’t mean to.
Philosophy of Stoicism is relevant even to the 21st century. It’s not just a set of belief system with certain moral or ethical codes. Stoicism calls for constant practice and training using logic and reason.
Stoicism underlines the importance of being in the present moment with perpetual process of mindfulness.
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