Ten Steps to a Stoic Life
Stoicism is a branch of philosophy made popular by Zeno of Citium in 3rd century Athens. The stoic philosophy teaches that the path to happiness is accepting the moment regardless of how it presents itself. In traditional stoicism, virtue is all that matters, and the concepts of misfortune and pleasure are neither good nor bad. They are simply a condition on which we are to act upon with the stoic virtues of wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation.
Learning to be stoic does not have to be a difficult task. You need not read through countless books, articles, and blogs on modern stoicism; and you need not read through the archaic writings of Zeno, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus. Instead, you can start your journey by incorporating these ten steps into your daily life.
1. Memento Mori
Memento mori is Latin for remember death. Do not waste your life. Death comes knocking when we least expect it, and most of us die sooner than we expect. We should embrace life as if we will never die and live as if we will die at any moment.
If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, then he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour. Perhaps you have half a century before you die. What makes this any different from a half hour? ─ Leo Tolstoy ─
2. Accept your situation, but do not surrender to it.
Stop making excuses. If you are unhappy with your life, then stop complaining and do something about it. Put together a plan, write it down, and follow-it. Do not let roadblocks stop you. Face them, accept them, and act. Action is always better than inaction.
Man conquers the world by conquering himself.
– Zeno of Citium –
3. Embrace Chaos
The Universe is an unpredictable beast, so why do you get upset when it acts like one? Embrace chaos, especially when it comes to little things. Laugh in the face of misfortune and thank God that you can draw breath and live in such a wonderfully unpredictable and interesting world.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.
– Richard Carlson –
4. Close the door when anger comes knocking.
Anger is fear. Choose calm over anger.
A real man does not give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance—unlike the angry and complaining.
– Marcus Aurilius –
5. Speak only when necessary.
Do not speak things that are better left unsaid.
Let silence be your goal for the most part, say only what is necessary, and be brief about it. – Epicurius –
6. Think for yourself
If you are easily provoked, then you are easily controlled. Do not surrender your thoughts to propaganda, media, and social media.
If a person gave away your body to some passersby, you’d be furious. Yet you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along, so they may abuse you, leaving it disturbed and troubled—have you no shame in that?”
– Epictetus –
7. Be Even Minded
Strengthen your resolve when you find yourself giving in to stress and disturbance.
To be even minded is the greatest virtue.
– Heraclitus –
8. Expect the worst but hope for the best
The world might call you a pessimist. Who cares? It’s far better to seem like a downer than to be blindsided or caught off guard.
– Ryan Holiday –
9. Do Not Be Ruled by Others
The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think or do. Only what you do.
– Marcus Aurelius –
10. Learn to let go
Do not become so involved that you waste energy on unproductive activities.
Sometimes saying “fuck it” at the right time can be a very powerful thing.
– David Goggins –
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