Living a stoic life is quite difficult if you don’t know where to start. It requires you to keep your emotions intact despite all the happenings in your surroundings. It means staying calm despite being provoked by a lot of things and people. It also means staying emotionless even when experiencing worries, doubts and fears. Indeed, people practicing stoicism are those who are strong-willed and determined. If you aren’t confident enough in remaining calm and stable at all times, then you might find it a bit difficult to try and live a stoic life.
There are many reasons why a lot of people want to lead stoic lives. However, the most powerful reasons for choosing this kind of lifestyle are attributed to a person’s beliefs. The stoic lifestyle has been around even during prehistoric times. Ever since the world began, there have been a lot of guidelines imposed on how to live one’s life, in order to conform to the norms of the society.
A lot of people see stoicism as a great way of life, but there are also a few people who think it’s meaningless to live an emotionless life. Actually, this way of life has its own setbacks and strengths. It just really depends on the person practicing the act, and how he or she sees that certain lifestyle.
Top 3 Principles of the Stoic Philosophy
The Stoic philosophy was created in the hopes of getting rid of all the negativities in a person’s life. Having this kind of lifestyle will require you to focus more on the positive aspects of life and try to ignore all the negative ones. It’s actually very beneficial to people who want to live a stress-free and peaceful life. However, it’s not that easy as it seems. You need to discipline yourself and make a lot of sacrifices before you can achieve this state of life.
The stoic way of life is often also used to let you have an optimum experience in almost everything you do. Since you merely focus on the good side of things, you will have more time to enjoy life. Compared when dwelling in negative energies and ideas, you’ll be more relaxed when applying the stoic lifestyle. This way of life lets you experience moments of great joys and a sense of deep gratitude. It allows you to be in perfect sync with everything around you. By living this kind of life, you’ll have both internal and external peace & happiness.
Here are some of the principles applied by people who are following the Stoic Philosophy:
- You can’t change your external environment, but you can change your attitude towards it.
This is a basic stoic philosophy that even non-practitioners are well aware of. You have no control over external factors. What happens outside of you is done by other people you have no control over. However, there are ways you can stay unaffected by external factors. One is by changing your attitude towards it.
A very good example of this philosophy is experiencing undesirable events due to a storm. If you get frustrated because of the storm, then you’re clearly wasting your time and energy. A storm is a natural occurrence and is part of the world’s fundamental cycles. No one is to be blamed for the occurrence of the storm. Instead of getting mad because of it, be thankful that you are kept dry and safe in the midst of that storm. That’s how a stoic person should react to similar events.
- Stay outside of the materialistic society’s loop.
This is another principle that requires you not to be swayed by all the material things this world can offer. Our planet is filled with people with materialistic desires, and a lot of them are enslaved by these material possessions. You have to keep in mind that all these material things are temporary.
The moment you start coveting material things, there just seems to be no end to it. You will tend to ask for more than what you already have, which will then result to discontentment. Having a discontented heart means living a life of constant struggle. Even if you don’t have the means to obtain those material possessions, you might become desperate enough to get it – Even if it means breaking the laws of the land. This will create an inner conflict, which could result to mental and emotional unrest. Stay away from materialistic people, as much as possible, and live a simple life.
- Know the true value of your possessions and the people around you.
You can never truly appreciate something or someone if you still have it with you. Sometimes, it takes a few losses for men to understand the true value of something.In most cases, you tend to look for something better, not realizing that you already have the best people and things in life. This is one of the greatest failures of mankind – Failing to appreciate what they have.
One of the greatest struggles in practicing a stoic lifestyle is being overly grateful for everything. The key to doing this is by imagining your life without these things and these people. Are you going to be alright without them? If the answer is yes, then you definitely don’t need those things and those people. However, if the answer is no, then you should start feeling a sense of deep gratitude for what you already have and try to be contented with whatever you have right now.
There are a whole lot more principles applied by people living the stoic lifestyle, but the aforementioned ones are the most important among them all.
3 Most Famous Stoic Philosophers
Now that you already have some ideas on the fundamental principles that govern stoicism, it’s only proper to get acquainted with some of the most popular stoic philosophers of all time. They are as follows:
- Zeno of Citium –A renowned Greek philosopher who founded a Stoic School of Philosophy in Athens, Greece. He taught stoic principles to many students around 300 B.C. Zeno was the one who divided the Stoic Philosophy into three parts, namely: Logic, Physics, and Ethics.
- Cleanthes –Another Greek philosopher and a successor of Zeno. Cleanthes is considered as the Second Head of the Stoic School of Philosophy in Athens.
- Marcus Aurelius –A Roman emperor who was the last remaining member of the Five Good Emperors. His regime lasted from 161 until the year 180. One of his most valuable contributions to the field of stoicism is his book entitled Meditation.
Top 2 Stoic Meditation Techniques
One of the most common uses of the stoic principle is meditation. Before you start practicing this, you have to take note of the following stoic meditation techniques:
- Reflection (Early Morning)
You need to do this immediately after waking up. You have to wake up at an early hour for this to take effect. The key element of this exercise is silence and serenity. Dawn is the best time for reflection. Since there are minimal distractions, you can focus on reflecting about how you have been living your life in the past, and how you can make it better than before.
- Visualization of Negative Ideas
In order for you to stay away from negative things, you have to clearly distinguish negative ideas from positive ones. You have to imagine the negative things and visualize in your mind what can happen if you keep sticking to that negativity. This will give you a sense of guilt and guidance at the same time. By knowing the effects of these negative thoughts, you’ll be able to fully avoid them and start living a stoic life.
Negative visualization could also mean expecting worst case scenarios. This can help you realize someone’s worth without actually losing them. For example, imagine losing your best friend to a tragic road accident. You should clearly visualize your reaction to losing your dearest best friend. This will help you realize that you need to give importance to the people around you while they’re still with you.
Modern stoicism started during the earlier parts of the 21st century. This movement was launched in attempt to bring back the stoic principles that were forgotten by many. Through this movement, many practitioners showed how to use these principles in modern day life. They wanted to focus more on the Ethical aspect of the stoic way of living for creating a better and more livable society for the next generations to come.
This contemporary movement attempts to bring both Atheists and Theists together to form a bond of friendship. This was quite a good movement, which created a harmony between the two conflicting parties. In fact, it was an effective means of making more stoic people connected to each other.
Modern stoicism has principles that are similar to ancient stoicism, but it already reflects the current situations and circumstances experienced by the modern society. It may not be verbatim with the Ancient practice, but it is still effective in keeping a low key life and creating a more harmonious society.