Stoics Be Like...
Stoicism is the most influential philosophy of the Roman world that has maintained its influence over time. Zeno founded the philosophy around 300 BC. Since then, it has influenced great minds and even formed the groundwork for cognitive behavioral therapy. Philosophers are basically lovers of wisdom, but can historically be viewed more as warriors of the mind. Stoics focused on moving from theory to practice, applying knowledge in order to flourish. The focus of Stoics is on leading a fulfilling and happy life and becoming a better human being. Something us #careerlions strive to achieve too, engineering our lives! So here we go, Stoics be like:
1. Who is in control here?
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ― Marcus Aurelius
“It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” ― Epictetus
“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” ― Epictetus
The number one practice of Stoics is to differentiate between what can and what cannot be controlled. You cannot control externalities, but you are able to control the choices you make right now. You are only in control of your choice on how to respond to these externalities. This will make you happier, rather than wasting your energy and time on fighting an unwinnable battle over something you probably forget about later. Something you will probably forget all about anyway. I actually find this thought quite reassuring, as it basically means all my worries about past and future (did I mention POSSIBLE) events can be forgotten about.
It is raining again? I indeed hate rain like nothing else. But right now, I choose to dance in the rain and enjoy a cup of tea (in the comfort of our home of course hihi).
2. Walk your path
“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”
Seneca states that it is important to believe in your self, in that you are generally heading in the right direction. Walk your path, there is no need to change your mind every five seconds or compare yourself to others. A clear vision of where you are going and some self-awareness is what one needs to find tranquility and peace.
- I would be an Irish dancing teacher – train and do the exams.
- I would be an efficient and effective analyst in the airline industry – work hard and learn continuously.
- I would be a pet owner – convince my “boy” and arrange my live such that I make it happen.
3. All emotions are from within
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” ― Marcus Aurelius
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.” ― Marcus Aurelius
“The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable.” ― Seneca
You create your own feelings in your own mind. It’s not the outside forces that are making us anxious. Your own thoughts are stressing you out. Blaming externalities is just a whole lot easier than taking a good look within. Take control of your brain. Manage your thoughts, in order to manage a live full of happiness.
Note to self, must apply this as of yesterday. I can get way to anxious just about anything. An upcoming week with a full agenda and no time left for some alone time or quality time my “boy”, an upcoming dance competition that I am not sure I am ready for, and so on. Reading this, I am not even sure why I am doing is. The time to do things differently by then has already long passed, of course. Commitments were made and training for competitions is something you do over a long period in advance. Actually, training and stressing a week beforehand is just about the worst thing to do. With a busy week coming up, I will be practising myself as of now to simply choose to enjoy it.
4. Be present
“Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.” — Seneca
“Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life.”
― Marcus Aurelius
Being present and learning how to be alone with nothing present but you, is an asset to your creativity and overall quality of life. There are even people that go mental without it. Honestly, I fall in the category actually. I unfortunately become a frustrated bitch if I don’t get my alone time fix every once in a while. While I am very good at being alone, I am not great at staying present for long once my concentration decides to give up. Definitely a point of attention, as I tend to wander off and practice my dance moves in my head or fingers or feat.
5. Time is everything
“You want to live—but do you know how to live? You are scared of dying—and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?” ― Seneca
Stoics basically honour the fact that we are all going to die and see this as a way to put perspective into what it really means to live. It gives them a sense of urgency to use every moment we have to become a better being, appreciating the possibilities and our responsibilities for our qualities of life. The Stoics even deprive themselves of every pleasure, in order not to take things for granted. I might have to cut back on my Netflix habits, while of course there are some series to watch guilt-free (link). On the other hand, I already gave up quite a few things I love. Do you know what it is like to resist cocktails? Or a can of Coca Cola?
Interested in more on stoicism? Read “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. It is a book with 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living based on translations of the great Stoics. One stoic a day, each month dedicated to another topic. Do these Stoics inspire you too? Let us know in the comment section below.