I love reading and philosophy has being a life-long obsession. Therefore, I want to combine this with my passion for sharing ideas and igniting conversation.
Welcome to my #bitesize philosophy series.
Today’s blog post is titled ‘Stoicism – Finding Peace within the Chaos’. I will be sharing about the Stoics and a philosophy that has always appealed to me and many others throughout history since it emerged in 3rd Century BC.
What is Stoicism?
A philosophy that urges the person to reorientate themselves on the internal and experience joy from our internal lives.
- The internal: things we can control (things we do, how we think and react to the external etc.)
- The external: things we cannot control (material goods, validation, people’s perceptions etc.)
It helps to move away from the need for external sources of happiness and focus on the task of being virtuous and finding joy inside.
Marcus Aurelius says that ‘almost nothing material is needed for a happy life for he who has understood existences. He preached that man should hone power over your mind and your way of thinking.’
Why is Stoicisms so appealing?
I think the empowering nature of stoicism philosophy to take control on yourself and be better is what makes its teaching just so appealing.
The greatest stoic teachers have preached the message of finding peace and happiness from within and being unaffected by the external. In letters from a stoic, Lucius Annaeus Seneca says: “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”
These principal can help find meaning in a chaotic world. Instead of running through our lives hoping to find happiness at the next stage (getting that degree, that dream job, that house, engaged, married, etc) we can actually find meaning and live purposeful by amending our thinking.
So, how do you apply the teaching to your life? I suggest you do these three things:
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable
This is something I think is so important.
For example, I achieved this by giving up TV shows and food. This gave me credibility in myself that I could be happy without external things.
Long-term, if you could adopt this you would be able to develop your character unaffected by external factors (good or bad) e.g. Car breaks down, getting fired, getting a promotion, getting dumped etc. Therefore, when you experience a situation that would be deemed good or bad you can remain unaffected and not complain.
I find this useful as it helps you change your approach from once where happiness comes with the achievement of the next goal but can occur now inside you.
I think this is important in a world where we are constantly marketed new product that will makes us happy which in fact are all petty things that don’t matter in the grand scheme.
- Decide you own virtue
Do you know what you believe enough to die for?
The only measure of a stoic is meeting their own moral obligations under any circumstance even death e.g. a social death (exclusion) or physical death (dying for a cause).
Therefore, you would have to understand what you deem to be virtuous and worthy.
To help you determine this, I would recommend you read my blog post (Creating a Life with Purpose) where I discuss this further. Also, watch this space as I will developing these ideas further from my learning from Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ by Friedrich Nietzsche.
- Think Negative & Practically
This sounds odd. However, it is a worthy pursuit to spend time thinking of the negative that could occur. This allows you to see how the world could be worse, your life could be worse. This help to have more gratitude for our lives as they are.
It is also worth being practical in your goals. For example, instead of setting an external goal such as high A-level result, set a goal like preparing sufficiently for A-level exam. This means you set yourself up to be measured against the internal and the things you can control.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please do comment and share your thoughts with me.
Just Ayo, sharing the stoic philosophy.