An ancient philosophy encouraging justice, courage, wisdom, and temperance; Stoicism still holds a valuable spot among our society today. The practice helps us to focus our mindset toward the controllable aspects of life while encouraging us not to dwell on the uncontrollable. This includes stressful situations at work or random, one-off circumstances. Stoicism teaches us to maintain composure in these unforeseeable circumstances. Here’s some more information about Stoicism, how it’s useful today, and how you can start to incorporate this philosophy into your day to day life.
What Is Stoicism?
Initially founded by Zeno of Cypress, Stoicism originated in Athens, Greece, within the early 3rd century. The teachings of this philosophy suggests we cannot control the events around us, but only ourselves and the way we choose to respond. The world can be an extremely unpredictable place, and a lot of our dissatisfaction arises because of our automatic actions as opposed to logic. Stoicism poses a solution to this dissatisfaction.
When Is Stoicism Useful?
Since Stoicism is about controlling your behaviour in external situations, acknowledging a lack of control in these circumstances, and not reacting impulsively, the philosophy proves to be an asset in chaotic situations especially. Whether it’s an emergency, a work crisis, or anything in-between, approaching the situation with a level head and not giving into the immediate, automatic response can help to control our actions when we need them most.
How To Get Started With Stoicism
There’s a vast collection of popular stoic exercises available to create your own stoic perspectives on life. The best part? They’re simple to implement into our day to day lives. You don’t need anything to get started, other than an open mind and some determination. Here are a few activities to get started with.
Journalling is a common art of Stoicism, encouraging a self-reflection on the day that was. This reminds us of the lessons we heard and reinforces their meaning in our minds through the process of writing them down.
The common stoic exercise ‘premeditation malorum’, otherwise known as the pre-meditation of evils, involves mentally picturing various circumstances going wrong. This is to ultimately help individuals deal with the common, unavoidable setbacks of life. This is a powerful tool the Stoics used to build mental resilience.
Establish Role Models
Stoicism encourages the use of role models to help guide us through difficult situations. We create role models - the ideal man or women, living a complete and happy life. When we are faced with challenging circumstances, we simply imagine them and ask ourselves, what would they do?
Change Your Perspective
To remind us how small we are or how insignificant a situation may be, a common stoic exercise suggests taking a step back. Try to relate your specific situation to the world, or bigger. This can emphasise how little of importance most circumstances are, ultimately helping us to see the bigger picture.
This stoic exercise is very simple and is aimed towards growing your comfort zone. By regularly creating uncomfortable situations, whether it’s lying on the floor in public, creating awkward silences, or anything in-between, you can train your mind for these situations should they suddenly arise down the line.
Stoicism is largely about accepting that external situations are uncontrollable, encouraging people to focus their attention towards aspects they can control. This includes fate. Overall, fate is an aspect of life that cannot be controlled, so rather than dwelling on the reality and wishing for it to be different, stoics suggest a kinder approach: to love life as it is. Don’t waste time dwelling on the future when it’s out of your control. Focus on reality and practice gratitude.