How to Be Stoic

Опубликовал Admin
17-05-2019, 09:00
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Updated: April 25, 2019 Whether you’re interested in Stoic philosophy or want to be stoic as it’s defined in the dictionary, try to work on self-control and self-awareness. Remember, you can control your actions and judgments, but most things are out of your hands and not worth your stress. Being stoic doesn’t mean you should be cold and distant, so think before you speak instead of not speaking at all. In addition to striving to be stoic in daily life, you can delve deeper into Stoic philosophy by trying daily meditations and reflecting on philosophical quotes.   

Developing a Stoic Mindset

  1. Accept what you cannot change. Some things, such as world events and natural disasters, are beyond your control, and there’s no use beating yourself up about something you can’t change. Focus instead on things you can change, like your own choices and judgments.
    • Think of a tennis game. You can’t control things like the skill of your opponent, the referee’s calls, or how random wind gusts might affect the ball. On the other hand, you can decide how much to practice before the game, to show up well-rested, and not to stay up all night partying before the match.
  2. Think before you speak and emotionally react. Work on having more self-control and self-awareness. Being stoic doesn’t have anything to do with just not talking. It’s more important to think before you speak, whether you’re interested in philosophical Stoicism or want to be stoic in the dictionary sense.
    • For example, if someone insults you, don’t just blurt out an angry insult back at them. Don’t engage them in an emotional fight, but consider if there’s any truth to their statement and reflect on how you could better yourself.
    • If you feel yourself getting upset and can’t focus on the situation’s facts, try to visualize pleasant surroundings, sing a song in your head, or say a stoic mantra to yourself, such as, “If it’s not in my control, it’s none of my concern.”
  3. Don't worry about other people. There’s nothing wrong with talking to people, but try not to ramble nervously and meaninglessly. You can’t control other people, so there’s no reason to be nervous. You also shouldn't feel like you have to conform to other people's standards, especially if it means compromising your own morals.
  4. Stay humble and open to new knowledge. Try to learn at every opportunity, but don’t be a know it all. You can’t learn if you already think you know everything. Wisdom is a core Stoic virtue, and part of cultivating wisdom is admitting that you have a lot to learn.
    • Educate yourself whenever you can by reading books, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, and (obviously!) reading how-to guides.
    • You could listen to podcasts like TEDTalks, RadioLab, and StarTalk Radio. Browse Netflix and other services for documentaries on subjects like nature, technology, and art.
    • If you want to read more about Stoic philosophy, the contemporary philosopher William B. Irvine is a leading voice. His writing is accessible and doesn't use lots of unapproachable philosophical jargon.
  5. Focus on being fair instead of being harsh. A true stoic isn’t interested in emotional conflicts, retribution, revenge, or holding grudges. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a cold, distant, isolated grouch. If someone wrongs you, you can still have sympathy for them even if you don’t engage them in an emotional conflict.
    • For example, if someone you care about lashes out at you, don’t just give them the cold shoulder. You could say, “I don’t think it’s wise to just toss insults back and forth. Let’s take some time to cool down so we can deal with this situation rationally.”
    • "Don’t get mad, get even," is not at all stoic, so never try to get revenge. If you’re a manager in charge of reprimanding an employee, think of a fair way to hold them accountable instead of blindly punishing them.

Applying Stoic Principles to Life

  1. Don’t waste your time on distractions. Your time is precious, so try not to waste time on mindless distractions. It might be tough in today’s hectic world, but concentrate on what you’re doing when you’re performing a task or action. Even if you’re just sitting by yourself or talking with a friend, focus on the moment instead of checking your phone every 10 seconds.
    • In addition, try not to dwell on distractions like world news, current events, and catastrophes. It’s one thing to be informed about global events, but you don’t want to stress or panic about things you can’t control.
  2. Enjoy the moment. You don't have to be a stone-faced Scrooge to exhibit self control and focus on the here and now. You can still enjoy entertainment, life’s pleasures, and nature’s beauty.
    • For example, when handed a glass of fine wine, a stoic person might sip it and contemplate, “What if this is the last glass of wine I’ll ever have?” The point isn’t that they’re thinking about doom and gloom, but that they’re appreciating this singular moment of enjoyment.
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Look at life’s big challenges as opportunities to become a wiser, stronger person. When it comes to the little annoyances, from spilled milk to losing five dollars, just try to keep calm and carry on.
    • Your peace of mind is worth more than stressing over something of little value. As the Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “A bit of spilled oil, a little stolen wine - repeat to yourself, ‘For such a small price, I buy tranquility.’”
  4. Surround yourself with people you respect. Being stoic doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself from others. However, you should try to spend your precious time with people who want to be wiser, make better decisions, and make you want to be a better person.
    • You don’t want to be a snobby elitist, but think about your friends and acquaintances. Do they hold you accountable for your actions, encourage you to learn, and motivate you to improve yourself? Is there anyone who is petty, judgmental, opportunistic, or vicious?  
  5. Place morals over material gain and praise. The strength of your character is far more important than wealth, awards, or acclaim. Make decisions based on your moral principles instead of doing something unethical that improves your status.
    • For example, don’t help someone because you want a reward or praise. Help them because it’s the right thing to do, and don’t brag about it or seek attention.
    • Suppose lying about a coworker would help you land a promotion. A true stoic wouldn't do something unethical just to get a raise.

Trying Stoic Meditations

  1. Visualize your place in the universe. The Hierocles’ Circle is a Stoic visualization exercise that helps you reflect on how you fit into the grand scheme of things. Start by visualizing yourself, then imagine your family and friends in a circle around you. Visualize your acquaintances, neighbors, and coworkers in the next circle, your city in the next and, eventually, all of humanity, all of Nature, and all of existence.
    • Take about 10 minutes to do the exercise. If it helps you focus, sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths.
    • The point is to appreciate that things are interconnected. You’re part of a human community and, ultimately, linked to the entire universe.
  2. Try imagining a great loss. A premeditatio Malorum is a Stoic meditation in which you imagine losing something that is very important to you, like your job or a loved one. Picture a negative scenario in your head just for a few seconds or so. It sounds disturbing, but the point is to accept impermanence, prepare for obstacles, reflect on the good things in your life, and overcome your fears.
    • Negative visualization can help build psychological resilience in the face of uncontrollable obstacles. That means when something bad happens, you might have an easier time coping if you’ve already imagined it.
  3. Read a daily quote and reflect on its meaning. Each day, look up a short quote by a Stoic philosopher. Say it multiple times to yourself and contemplate its meaning. Even if it was written over two thousand years ago, think about how you could apply its meaning to your own life.
    • You could look online for quotes by thinkers like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Stoicism is a great place to look for philosophers, quotes, and further reading:
    • You can also find quotes, reflections, and other resources on scholarly blogs, such as Stoicism Today:
  4. Write a reflective journal entry at the end of the day. At the end of the day, write about the challenges you faced and decisions you made. Contemplate a bad habit you made an effort to improve. Reflect on how you could have made a better choice or handled a situation differently.
    • For instance, you might write, "Today Sam was very short with me. I started to say something back, but caught myself before I lost my cool. I'm getting better about not allowing other people to get under my skin, but still have some work to do."
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