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How to Understand Stoicism

August 18, 2018 Philosophy and Religion

Ever heard of stoicism and wanted to know more, better still to understand and maybe become one.

Steps

  1. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 1 Read about the origin of Stoicism. Stoicism is a philosophy from the Graeco-Roman period of classical history. Founded by Zeno of Citium, whose works have now been lost.
  2. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 2 Take to heart the teachings of Zeno that all suffering comes from certain destructive emotions, known as the stoic passions.
  3. To achieve true happiness you must control your passions. The primary passions are distress, fear, lust and delight. These are described as follows by Zeno:
    • Distress is an irrational contraction, or a fresh opinion that something bad is present, at which people think it right to be depressed. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 3Bullet1
    • Fear is an irrational aversion, or avoidance of an expected danger Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 3Bullet2
    • Lust is an irrational desire, or pursuit of an expected good. Image titled 890870 3b3
    • Delight is an irrational swelling, or a fresh opinion that something good is present, at which people think it right to be elated. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 3Bullet4
  4. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 4 All these are then sub-divided with different destructive emotions for each primary passion.
  5. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 5 Read and understand Stoic writings based on the time period that they were written in. Most Stoic works have been lost, to learn more about stoic thought read these:
    • Marcus Aurelius' Meditations' and "Thoughts to Myself",Seneca's 'Letters from a stoic' and his 'On the shortness of life'. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 5Bullet1
    • John Sellars' 'Stoicism' gives a good history of stoicism, that is easy to read, while comprehensive. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 5Bullet2
    • Bertrand Russell's 'A history of western philosophy' also discusses Stoicism, both of these will give you outside opinion of Stoicism. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 5Bullet3
  6. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 6 Control your emotions at all time through the right assent of external and internal impressions- this is the Stoic's famous principle. Stoic calm has come into the English language from stoicism. Stoic calm is a famously advocated principle by Stoics.
  7. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 7 Lead a plain and simple life, disdain anything added by the way of decoration.
  8. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 8 Have a few Laconic tendencies, like Laconic brevity in speech and eating sparingly.
  9. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 9 Wear simple but comfortable clothes.
  10. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 10 You should always be familiar with poverty, just in case you became poor. Stoicism doesn't mean you can't be rich, Seneca was a senator and Marcus Aurelius was an emperor, they merely advocated non-materialism.
  11. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 11 Like the Buddhist idea of the universe, believe everything is constantly changing and humans were unimportant; just tiny parts of nature, it is therefore necessary for you to accept fate without fuss.
  12. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 12 Be happy in all circumstances. Stoic's advocated the idea that no matter what happens to you, you are still happy; a stoic saying goes something like this; Full of belly and happy, hungry and happy, well rested and happy, tired and happy, etc.
  13. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 13 Prepare and be familiar with death for your life is short, however you must not be fearful, as fear is unbecoming to the stoic.
  14. Image titled Understand Stoicism Step 14 Courage of the soul as well as humility and honesty is at the heart of the stoic philosophy, also compassion and solidarity between men

Tips

  • Always be ready and never take things for granted as they can be snatched from you at any moment.
  • Try meditation, many stoics advocated a Buddhist like meditation.
    • Read and research stoicism to find out more.

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