what is a stoic and how to be one
Noun: the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.
Are you feeling lost? Not motivated? Or simply don’t feel comfortable in your own skin? Well many people are going through the same things yet we all react differently, take the story of Zeno of Cyprus who dedicated his life to stoicism Zeno was a wealthy merchant who lost everything when he was shipwrecked in Athens around 300 BCE with little to nothing to do he went to a bookshop and stumbled across some literature on Socrates and wanted to learn from the great philosophers around him to educate others. And this is where stoicism was made!
So what is stoicism the main principles of stoicism are virtue, tolerance and self control. We now use the word stoic to describe someone who is calm under pressure and not a drama-queen.I’m not going to go into all the cause and effect side but Basically called these logos which explains that we can’t control the world around us but we can control our reactions or lack of it, which is something I really relate to as I say to myself often “don’t be re-active, be pro-active! Rather than expecting a utopia a stoic would see the world for what it is around them and to focus on oneself, this is done with the 4 cardinal virtues which are: wisdom, temperance, justice and courage. How do you do stoicism?
Well there’s many different things that you can do but we’ve rounded up some of the key concepts of stoicism.
- Practice misfortune: we thrive outside our comfort zone, yet we don't spend much time there. practising misfortune is a way of showing resilience gratitude and how adaptive our body actually is! you could do exercises like this 1 week per month were you sleep on the floor or wear your worst clothes, anything that you might take for granted remove from your life for a short while to understand how grateful you should be for it
- train perception: the stoics had a exercise called turning an obstacle upside down, what they meant was basically to see things from a different angle, turning obstacles into opportunities, or what i like to call stepping stones.This will teach you fortitude which is one of my favourites, i've even got the word as the background of my phone. so this is kind of like learned optimism, imagine someone pulled out in front of your car, instead of shouting and getting frustrated imagine the person in the car needed to get to hospital, you would learn patience and the person in the car would get to the hospital quicker! its a win win.
- the view from above: probably one of the most popular stoic exercises, so what is it? the view from above is to realise how small you are in comparison to the world and in turn how small your problems are. so how do you practice the view from above otherwise known as Plato's view, well you would imagine yourself from a birds eye view, putting yourself in perspective with the world around you, taking in the people environments and attitudes, you might not like the coffee you're drinking right now but someone in a third world country is drinking dirty water.
- memento mori - meditating on our mortality: although this may seem a bit morbid the reason for this is that it gets our ass into gear, it shows us that we only have a limited time to achieve our goals. Steve jobs practised this so he would be productive every second of the day! by doing this you eliminate procrastination as a part of your life
- the power of control: this is realising what we are and what we are not in control of. you've just gone outside and it starts to rain, no amount of shouting will change the weather because you are not in control. think how much time you spend complaining and what you could be doing instead, i think this exercise links to all the others as we have to adapt to all these situation.
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