What it Means to be a Stoic
A few simple concepts
I have been called a stoic person nearly all my life. In most cases, they are calling me this due to my supposed lack of emotion. Most don’t realize that I see the world differently than they do.
To most people, stoicism is what I mentioned above – a lack of emotion, but in reality, it is an increased use of logic. I’ve always known my personality naturally leans toward logic over emotion, but until recent years I did not know the way I am wired is actually an entire philosophical way of life.
Stoicism is defined as the following:
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal eudaemonic virtue ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world, asserting that the practice of virtue is both necessary and sufficient to achieve eudaimonia—flourishing by means of living an ethical life. The Stoics identified the path to eudaimonia with a life spent practicing the cardinal virtues and living in accordance with nature.
Now that you and I know the definition – am I telling you that I am on the path to eudaimonia? No, no I am not. We should all strive for happiness, but I am not saying that stoicism will get you there. I do want to talk about what stoicism is in practical terms, how it is and can be practiced, and if you should practice it.
What is Stoicism Really?
Stoicism is more than a philosophy. By simply thinking deeply, learning endlessly, and never giving up, you can live a more fulfilling life. Personally, those three things sum me up to the tee. I am a natural born Stoic. I wouldn’t say my life is perfect, but I do like to think I live it under my terms due to those basic values.
Utilizing logic as your compass of sorts is the foundation. Making decisions with your brain, rather than the metaphorical heart is key.
Giving yourself the time and energy to learn constantly. Being an infinite student will allow you to always be knowledgeable about the past and present, while empowering you to be curious about the future.
Being relentless and never giving up – neither on the practice of stoicism or your goals, will push you forward.
How is it Practiced?
In your day-to-day this can look differently for everyone, but if you distill it down, it can be quite simple. You can find your way of practicing it, that works for you.
Try to make decisions after thinking them through. Don’t rush into making a choice, as this can lead to decisions fueled by emotion, which usually leads to regret.
Most of us stop learning at a meaningful level once we are done with our formal education. If we can make an effort to always learn, we will be empowered to think more logically. When learning, try to learn opposing sides of every story, even if it feels like you shouldn’t. As an example – if you are learning about something political, learn the point of view of all parties.
Perseverance is hard. It’s the cherry on top of stoicism. When pairing it with logic and learning, you can outthink almost anyone, and in turn accomplish a lot. Stoicism backs this concept up with the Latin term Memento Mori (Remember you will die), which is the concept of living in the now. If you can live in the now, perseverance becomes easier and your goals seem more achievable.
Should you Practice Stoicism?
Stoicism has a lot of value in our philosophical and material lives. I think it can really allow people to live a more intentional life, which can lead to more satisfaction and personal meaning.
I don’t think stoicism needs to be practiced at the level of the philosophers that pioneered the term. Some of them took it way too far, pigeonholing how their life was lived. I do think that we should all have an understanding of it beyond the false concept of it meaning “emotionless”.
You can go down the rabbit hole that is stoicism, but like any methodology, it is a framework. You should always adapt a framework to your needs and wants, don’t force it.
I would love to know what you think of Stoicism. Do you agree with any of it or do you think it’s bullshit? Let me know in the comments or by replying to this email.