An introduction to stoicism

Stoicism is a philosophy that encourages people to live in accordance with reason. Stoics believe that because humans are social creatures, they should be sociable and friendly. They should also do their best to improve other people’s lives, but not needlessly worry about things outside of their control. 

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Take a look at the following quotations from stoic philosophers. They had a lot of time to observe their surroundings, the people they lived with, and the effects that their actions had on themselves, and on others.

1. “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius

Accept what life has to offer with stoicism. Act by letting go of all the emotional baggage that is preventing you from doing so. The stoic person does not allow outside influences to affect them emotionally. If an obstacle is in the way, it becomes necessary to take another course of action. The stoic mind will act by letting go of this emotional baggage that often gets in the way of achieving what must be done.

2. “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius

Live stoically” by fighting against the fear of death. We all know that we will die, so the stoic person fights off this fear by living their life stoically. That is to say, they face every obstacle stoically and live their lives with determination because it can all be taken away in an instant.         

3. “Let us remind ourselves that if we do not study philosophy, we shall be poor; and if we study it diligently, poverty will have no power over us.” – Seneca

Keep learning. No matter how much expertise I think I have, there will always be a new challenge to overcome and new ideas that can be used to help in difficult situations. On many occasions, a different outlook or opinion can move things forwards.

4. “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” – Socrates

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Look within yourself to discover who you are, and live stoically. The stoic person is always thinking about themselves and their own life. They are self-aware, and know what they stand for. Stoics also have healthy boundaries. These help keep the individual on track and not distracted by things that would be harmful to their well being.

5. “There are three things which make up happiness or misery—satisfaction with what one has (wealth), satisfaction with what one does (occupation) and good social relationships at home and abroad” – Seneca

The stoic knows how to be happy, and also knows what makes them happy. They have a fulfilling life stoically, with this stoic contentedness driving them further.

6. “The best revenge is living well.” – Socrates

Get back at your enemies by living stoically with happiness, stoic contentment, stoic determination and stoic refusal to be emotionally affected by them. No matter how much pain and suffering you think you’ve recieved; stoic principles guide us to living our lives as best as we can.

7. “The greatest wealth is to live content with little, for there is never want where the mind is satisfied.” – Socrates

The stoic person lives with what they have. They don’t want for anything and instead of looking to the future with greed, they live contentedly with what they’ve got. The grass is seldom greener on the other side, and comfort is most often found with the people we already know and love.

8. “I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.” – Marcus Aurelius

The stoic person values other people’s opinions over their own up to a point. They are stoically contented with themselves and are not concerned that others may not approve of them. They are at peace with their own lives and are not concerned that others may not approve of the stoic life they have. To be stoic is to live a fulfilling life without the validation of others.

A stoic does not desire upticks and likes on social media. They are aware of their value and the value they bring to others.

9. “The wise do not expose themselves needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which they really care” – Seneca

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The wise do not expose themselves to danger. However, if you feel like that’s what you must do then at least make sure that you’re prepared for it! For exmaple, one of the best ways to prepare for a hurricane is by having an emergency kit. The principle of preparedness can be applied to anything. Whether it’s a job interview, or the possibility of your car breaking down, have a plan in case of something going wrong, or circumstances changing.

10. “Virtue is nothing else than right reason.” – Cicero

The key to living a virtuous life is reason. If you give in to your desires and emotions, then you’ll find yourself wanting what other people have or doing things that violate other moral principles. Have a moral framework that protects yourself and those that you love from harm. Letting our emotions control our actions can lead to a lot of misery. A quick burst of happiness at the expense of another person will come back to hurt us.

I hope that you found this introduction to stoicism helpful. It’s given me many things to think about and some valuable suggestions as to how I can live a happier, more contentful life. If there are any other topics related to Stoicism which you’d like an article on, please let me know in the comments below or by messaging me on twitter @ThisHappyHuman

The best way for us both is if we work together!

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