What is Stoicism? – A Quick Guide to Stoic Philosophy
Stoicism will be one of those philosophies that will make a big impact on your life.
Stoicism is the philosophy that was developed in the times of ancient Greece. It was practiced by many people, both powerful and not powerful a the time.
Two of the most prominent stoics in history are an emperor and a salve.
Marcus Aurelius was one of the last great emperors of the roman empire. He unintentionally made a book that is one the most grounding on stoic philosophy, but was written as his own personal journal.
The second man is Epictetus who was born into slavery and who eventually settled in Rome, was exiled out of Rome, and eventually ended up in Greece.
Both of these peoples books don’t just outline the principles of the philosophy, but they give practical advice that can be used in your everyday life to be a happier and more productive person.
In Stoicism, its really recognized that every single person has a tenancy to have destructive emotions, but they also believe that its the way that we think and how self disciplined we are with our thinking that we can overcome these destructive emotions and that we can develop a stronger character that is more calm, or as the Buddhists call it, enlightened.
In fact, there are many overlaps between the eastern philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism with Stoicism. The stoics, just like the Taoists understand that the world is very chaotic and that things are constantly changing. They also understand that people in the world can be very destructive. But despite whatever negative circumstances surround us, the stoics understand that it is our thoughts that dictate our state and not the people around us.
Marcus Aurelius says in his book that our life is what our thoughts make it. Our destiny, in other words. is not fixed and is up to us to make.
The stoics also understand that it is important to practice a state of mindfulness. Just like in zen Buddhism when practitioners of that philosophy take time and practice sitting in solitude and focusing their mind in the present. the stoics also train themselves to keep their attention on the present moment.
Unlike other philosophies, in Stoicism, there aren’t strict guidelines or doctrines that they must follow. Instead, its really an underlining principle that can be adapted to meet each individuals needs.
Another interesting similarity that stoicism has with the eastern philosophies is that they talk about suffering. They talk about how spiritual freedom can come from an absence of suffering.
Epictetus says that the essence of Stoic philosophy is that we should live so that our happiness depends as little as possible on external causes. In stoic philosophy, the less you desire, the less your circumstances have power over you. The stoics believed that if you desire something that is not in your power, you will only set yourself up for disappointment and for sadness.
The point that the stoics make is that you shouldn’t desire things outside of your control Instead, desire things that are in your control. Desire to have some self discipline. Desire to have positive and productive emotions.
One interesting thing that can be found in stoicism is that they have certain practices that are tailored to each individual. For example, one thing that Marcus Aurelius would do is when he would wake up in the morning, he would say to himself:
The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me.
This daily ritual that Marcus Aurelius has prepares him for his day. He will encounter many people who have bad intentions, so he sets up the expectation that he will meet with both good and evil men so that nothing takes him by surprise. When he encounters evil men, he’s not disappointed because he is already expecting it.
Stoicism is by far one of the most powerful philosophies that you will encounter.
See also: The Best Philosophy Books You Must Read
You can use it in your daily life and see a great change in the way you will be self disciplined about your situations If you are interested in stoicism, you can read the following books by the greatest authors of Stoic philosophy.
Great Books to Read on Stoicism
One of the worlds most famous and influential philosophy books, Meditations was never meant to be published. The book, kept as more of a journal, is filled with challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor, Marcus Aurelius, struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe.
His philosophy was formed as he dealt with natural disasters and war. Being a stoic himself, the philosophy helped him understand the world and deal with his circumstances with poise and composure.
Epictetus was born into a life slavery in about 55 CE in the eastern parts of the Roman Empire. Once freed, he established an influential school of Stoic philosophy, focusing on the fact that human beings cannot control life, only their responses to it. By putting into practice the ninety-three instructions that make up The Art of Living, you will learn to meet the challenges of everyday life successfully and to face life’s inevitable losses and disappointments with grace and self discipline.
This book serves as a guide to living a virtuous, logical, and subsequently happy existence.
Mehdi KA is an inspirational blogger and motivational speaker. He has traveled to over 43 countries and enjoys writing as a way to share his experiences and life lessons.
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