I've been practicing stoicism for a couple of months. My busy life needed to put a stop to, and I needed to think about myself.
The old practice by Greek philosophers can really help you become mentally tougher. This old way of thinking taught us some things aren't in our control and life is something we should be very grateful for. We only live once. Let's live it the way you want.
In this article, I will explain a few Stoic concepts and practices that have improved my life and will in the future because you are the only one to decide what you're doing with your life and how to live it.
What is stoicism, and where was it created?
Zeno of Citium established Athens-based Stoicism in the early 3rd century BC, and it is considered the first school of Hellenistic philosophy. It is a philosophy of personal ethics influenced by logic and ideas about the natural world held by its adherents.
As a philosophy, Stoicism thrived across the Roman and Greek worlds until the 3rd century AD, and Emperor Marcus Aurelius was a devotee of its teachings.
The Stoics offered a coherent explanation of the universe that was built on principles of logic, monistic physics, and naturalistic ethics, among other things. The most important of these was their emphasis on ethics as the central goal of human understanding, but their logical ideas were more important to subsequent philosophers.
As a method of conquering harmful emotions, Stoicism encourages the development of self-control and fortitude. The philosophy believes developing one's ability to reason clearly and objectively enables one to comprehend the universal reason.
Only focus on the things that are within your reach and control
It is common for us to waste much time and energy worrying about things beyond our control. And, more importantly, how much time is too much?
The Stoics would define success as everything more than nothing.
Why? We do this because attempting to influence things outside of your control is a fruitless endeavor that detracts from the importance of taking action on the things you can control.
I notice myself doing it a lot in the past. When I see myself shifting from a good to a negative frame of mind, I make a conscious effort to focus back on the essential element of all.
Wherever you are most responsive is where you should direct your attention and efforts. Instead of criticizing what others are doing, this implies focusing on improving yourself, including your thoughts, feelings, actions, and behaviors. Decide what you can control and what you cannot control, and learn to differentiate between the two.
"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."
― Marcus Aurelius
Accept you won't reach all of your goals.
A Stoic has objectives they wish to accomplish in practice, and they work hard to reach those goals. However, they are aware they are not entitled to success, and they recognize this.
You have complete control over how much effort you put in. You have complete control over the methods you use. However, since you cannot control all of the factors, you will not influence the result.
When you start practicing stoicism, this can be difficult, and I used to be very frustrated when something didn't work out the way I expected. Now, more and more, I accept the fact sometimes things are beyond your control.
Don't get me wrong, and this doesn't mean you shouldn't aim for large goals. On the contrary, realize it can be difficult to strive towards a goal you might never reach.
"Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together,but do so with all your heart."
― Marcus Aurelius
Be thankful you are alive.
Lately, I see the development of apps called Gratitude journals; this to write down what you are grateful for each day; I keep a journal like this myself. This is something the ancient Stoics did as well. But probably not in an app.
They felt it was important to notice and appreciate the many wonderful things in life we tend to take for granted.
The Stoics thought we should be grateful for all of the people and experiences in our life that help to shape who we are. We should be grateful for more than only the things we get and the connections we have with our friends and family.
We should be aware and thankful for the obstacles and inconveniences happening, only by looking at the whole picture, both good and bad you will be able to be genuinely grateful for everything.
Because it is all of those things, which are linked and reliant on one another, that have shaped you into the person and entity you are now.
"When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: 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. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural."
― Marcus Aurelius
It's a sobering idea to consider. We all get the impression we are at the center of reality while we are not.
The need to adhere to unreasonable expectations and external pressures is not a need for us. We don't have to chase after achievements in the hopes of leaving a lasting legacy, either.
All that's important is that we conduct our lives according to our own set of rules. It is the only way we can really assure we have lived a good or fulfilling life.