Stoicism was a distinguished school of thought in ancient Greece and Rome. Nowadays, the term “stoic” is loosely implied to describe someone who represses his feelings or has great enduring capacity. But in reality, stoicism is a deeper philosophical doctrine. Stoicism has its relevance even today. The doctrine is still practiced by wise people in our society because of its practical and simple approach.
STOIC DEFINITION :
Stoic is someone who has achieved a state where they are not affected by any emotions.
Definitions of “stoic” as given by the popular dictionaries:
Cambridge dictionary gives this definition for stoic – “determined not to complain or show your feelings, especially when something bad happens to you.”
Oxford Learner’s Dictionary suggests: “A person who is able to suffer pain or trouble without complaining or showing what they are feeling.”
Collins dictionary states: “A member of the ancient Greek school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium, holding that virtue and happiness can be attained only by submission to destiny and the natural law.”
HOW IT STARTED
Stoicism was a concept formulated by the Greek philosopher, Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century B.C. in the Hellenistic period.
After losing everything in a shipwreck, Zeno became a student of the Cynic school of philosophy. When he decided to start his own school he did not even have the money to buy or rent a space. So, he was on the streets of Athens where Zeno met new students. He taught his ideas under the roofed colonnade, Stoa Poikile, hence his philosophy got the name stoicism.
His school was open for anyone who would listen. According to this school of philosophy, “virtue is the only good.” This philosophy is based on the idea of seeking a path to happiness or eauda imonia.
Stoicism was one of the famous schools of thought during this period because the Stoics provided compelling answers to anxiety, stress, fear, and troubling questions like “What do I want out of life?” The Stoics offered an operating system that dealt with the trials of the human condition.
The names of the four best known Stoics—Zeno, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca—belonged to, respectively, a Roman emperor, a former slave who triumphed to become an influential lecturer and friend of the emperor Hadrian, and a famous playwright and political adviser.
Its principal focus was how to live a virtuous life, to maximize happiness and reduce negative emotions. Its value has been tried and tested over much of human history by renown individuals like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Arianna Huffington, Tom Brady, Tim Ferriss, Nelson Mandela and more.
The basic concept of stoicism revolves around 3 major ideas –
• View yourself and the world with its people objectively and accept their nature as they are.
• Discipline your mind to prevent yourself from being controlled by pleasure or pain.
• Realize what is within your power and what is not. And then act on those factors under your power and leave those beyond your control.
A Complete Guide to Stoicism.
STOICISM BELIEFS :
Stoicism belief was centered on self-control and fortitude.
The Stoics believe we are not affected by events. It’s only how we react to them. Stoicism does not teach you to let go of your emotions. Rather, it formulates to transform them by Asceticism which is the voluntary practice of abstinence from worldly pleasures. As a result of that, a person will develop clear judgment, attain inner calm and would be freed from his sufferings.
Stoicism is not a set of rules or beliefs. Rather, it is a daily practice, a way of living life. It involves training and practice of logic that is based on natural laws.
The four Stoic virtues were – Wisdom, Justice, Courage and Moderation.
The stoics believed in The Four Cardinal Virtues – Wisdom, Justice, Courage and Moderation.
“The wise man is neither raised up by prosperity nor cast down by adversity; for always he has striven to rely predominantly on himself, and to derive all joy from himself.” – Seneca
Stoicism teaches you to practice wisdom. It simply means to recognize and accept things as they are without labeling them as good or evil. You only have to choose your decisions and act accordingly. Between the stimulus and response, there indeed is a space. In this space, you choose how you would respond.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” -Epictetus
It is the knowledge of knowing what’s essential for you and doing only that. We have the desire to possess several materialistic things and to accomplish so much in one lifetime. But are those even necessary? Following this virtue, one can learn self-control. For if you don’t practice self-control you will keep wasting time from your limited lifespan and keep bringing more pain to yourself.
“If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining.” – Marcus Aurelius
We need the courage to persist and resist for thriving. Stoicism teaches this virtue to face any challenges, misfortune, or even death. Courage enables you to face any situation of life. Have the courage to hold your principles, to take risks, and to speak truthfully. Courage sharpens your character.
“Live out your life in truth and justice, tolerant of those who are neither true nor just.” – Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius stated that among the Four Stoic Virtues, justice is the most crucial one. Because it is the “source of all the other virtues.” What is so grand about courage if you use it only for your selfish ambitions? What good can wisdom do if you don’t apply it to help others? And what will you do with self-control if not for the benefit of mankind? This virtue teaches us to understand our duty to others. It is the act of being righteous and upholding truth over everything else.”
STOIC PRINCIPLES :
The eight principles of the Stoics were – Nature, Law of Reason, Virtue, Wisdom, Apatheia, Pleasure, Evil and Duty.
“The goal of life is living in agreement with Nature.” -Zeno of Citium
There were mainly eight principles of the Stoics. These are –
Stoics call nature a rational entity.
2. Law of Reason
The universe follows the law of reason. You cannot escape the natural laws, so follow those intentionally.
If you lead your life following the natural laws, you are indeed virtuous.
It is the source of all other virtues. If you are wise you will not let external circumstances affect you.
Passion and emotions have no reasons. So, you should avoid all the intense emotions.
It is neither good nor evil. You can have pleasure as long as it does not interfere with your practicing the virtues.
Unexpected, unpleasant events such as illness, poverty or death are not evil.
You should practice virtue not for having pleasure but as a duty towards the world and its people.
Stoicism is a way of thinking. This philosophy was practiced by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Recently, this concept is re-introduced by modern thinkers to improve the quality of our lives. This fast-paced, competitive world brings us anxiety and mental pain. By practicing this timeless wisdom you can release your worries and attain your peace of mind.
We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” – Marcus Aurelius.
Practicing stoicism helps an individual to seek happiness within oneself without bothering about others opinions and what others think.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is greater than the suffering itself” – The Alchemist.
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one” – Marcus Aurelius.
“You have power over your mind, not outside events .Realize this, and you’ll find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius