What’s up everybody! Welcome Back! Hope y’all are doing well! First, and foremost, I want to thank all of you for your continued support. Today, we wanted to bring you something new popularized by Bruce Lee and many martial artists before him, The Art of Stoicism. Thousands of events, those that we cannot control, impact our lives on a daily basis. The key to dealing with such events without burning up through frustration and anger is to learn to control how we react to difficult situations.
The stoic philosophers of ancient Greece taught us to set aside destructive feelings and act upon those things where we can make a difference. While we cannot completely extinguish our emotions, we can at least learn to guide them in a positive direction. That’s what the art of stoicism is all about.
Greek Roots of Stoicism
The idea of stoicism was born in Greece. Its philosophy was developed around 300BC by Zeno of Citium (Cyprus). He was a prosperous merchant until he ran into misfortune.
The story is that Zeno was shipwrecked, which resulted in him losing all of his wealth. He survived and crawled near Athens. One day, he wandered into a bookstore and picked up a volume written by Socrates. He instantly got hooked on philosophy and opened his school in Athens on the subject. He led a comfortable life with his favorite pleasures being to sit in the sun while eating figs, drinking wine, and debating the great ideas of the time with his students.
According to Zeno, distinguishing between the things we are able to control over those we have no control is extremely important.
The Stoic Philosophy
The stoic philosophy focuses on one primary question: how can we find a path to eudaimonia (happiness)? For the stoics, the practical path to eudaimonia is based in a few fundamental principles:
- The ability to view ourselves, other people, and the world as a whole objectively and accept their nature as it is.
- The discipline to stop ourselves from being controlled by our fear of suffering and pain or our desire for pleasure.
- The ability to behave with stoic virtues.
- Distinguishing between what’s within our control and what’s not.
Stoic philosophy was used by many people, from soldiers of the ancient era, all the way up to Marcus Aurelius himself, who became a prominent figure of Rome and Greece.
The Stoic Virtues
The modern meaning of the word stoicism may be different than the original philosophy. However, one thing is for certain; stoicism is more a way of life than it’s about overcoming a setback.
Zeno, and many other philosophers who came after him, established four stoic virtues for a social life. These include the following:
- Temperance: Temperance is the exact opposite of the saying “He who dies with the most toys wins”. It is about living a life of moderation. Stoics prioritize self-discipline and strive to live their lives in harmony with nature.
- Justice: Others must be treated fairly even if their actions are illicit. When it comes to stoicism, justice involves more than just unlawful actions. It covers relationships between and among people in the framework of social virtue.
- Wisdom: Wisdom is the ability to learn to take care of complicated issues via the application of information and logic. This stoic virtue is basically the opposite of making decisions without any reference to known facts that seem to be popular in certain political circles.
- Courage: Courage means enduring misfortune and pain without complaint. For instance, when a stoic breaks a hip, he won’t lie in bed for weeks mourning his fate. Instead, he will put the downtime to some practical use, e.g. learning something new.
- This stoic virtue basically means having the courage to stand up and do the right thing.
The Art of Stoicism
The stoicism teaches us that we are not disturbed by events, but only how we respond to them. It also teaches us that not everything is within our control. Only our perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, and actions are inside our control.
These two ideas are important for a variety of reasons:
- Firstly, the stoic mindset instructs us to take responsibility for how we see things, because this is what causes the pain and suffering. Instead of just blaming other people or the world for our bad mood or our difficult situation, we are empowered to accept that it’s us who are responsible for our happiness.
- Secondly, the stoic mindset draws a line between what we can control and what we cannot. Many people suffer because they get upset about or try and control the things in their life that they have simply no control over. This leads them to feel powerless, ineffective, helpless, resentful, and bitter.
However, when we focus on what we can control, we start to become efficient, effective, we solve problems more easily, and hence, we suffer less. The key is to accept that we have very little control over most things that occur in life. What we can control is our own thoughts, beliefs, perspectives, and actions.
We hope you enjoyed this quick segment on control, awareness, self-responsibility. These are all key factors of The Art of Stoicism. Never forget, all our practices are a marathon, slow steady progress is key in our growth. Till next time!-The Black Sheep