Difficulties arise faster than we can alleviate them, it seems. However, stoic philosophy can help us keep calm and live our purpose in life regardless.
Problems seem to overwhelm and complicate our lives, popping up as soon as we think we have a handle on everything. To be honest, if we kept a record of our issues, we would probably find something wrong on every single day. Thanks to stoic philosophy, we can stay focused on our goals despite these situations.
What is Stoic philosophy?
There are two basic principles of stoicism, “How can we live a fulfilling, happy life?” and “How can we become better human beings?” In action, these statements combined ask us to ponder what we’re doing to cultivate happiness. After all, happiness is not a state of being alone. It is also a feeling of fulfillment, a pride of knowing that we’re doing and being what we were meant to, according to our own self-discovery.
Separate feeling, passion, and desire, and what do you have? You have basic human necessity and willpower. This school of philosophy, founded by Zeno in 280 B.C., prompted a new way of viewing life, by putting death at the forefront. This also meant that each passing day, each hour and minute was a precious time to be doing what humans were made to do.
Want to know how to use stoic philosophy to stay calm during a crisis? Here are few ways.
Being present in modern times is sometimes a difficult task. Let’s be honest, it’s downright impossible at times. With the advent of technology, especially social media, and smartphones, we are far from present in the “real world”.
We must learn to make it a habit to practice being in the present. Some people find it easier than others, but we can all accomplish this, more or less. There are two things you can practice: Take some time to be alone with your thoughts and learn to focus on the task at hand.
One of the things we often take for granted is being thankful. Over time, we develop a sense of self-gratitude or no thankfulness at all. If things go well for a long time, we often forget that there are others that have helped us make it through. Then, out of the blue, something traumatic happens, and we just don’t know what to do or who to ask for help.
A step we should take, today, right now even, is to keep a journal of gratitude. Each day, we should write all the things that we’ve learned and are thankful for. I don’t’ mean the obvious things like food and family. Rather, I mean to be thankful for the lessons we’ve learned and the attitudes that have inspired us. Being thankful will put things in a different perspective and make life much easier to swallow.
So many times in life, we develop attachments to things, people, and places. These attachments become so important that we couldn’t imagine being without them. This can pose a problem for our personal growth. We cannot always get what we want, and it’s best to hold lightly, not tightly to that which we desire.
Practice seeing things almost temporary, and when they stay for long times, they will bring more joy. This way of thinking will also promote change and make change easier to accept when it does happen.
Keep time precious
As I mentioned before, death is at the forefront of thinking in the stoic mind. A person who can practice stoic philosophy is never fooled by the idea of immortality. They are steadfast, and they are always ready to make improvements.
Now, I don’t mean to hurry through life without enjoying the view, but rather, you should stay consistent with the task at hand and then move on. Always make good use of every opportunity at an important time in your life, especially when difficult times mean disease or mortality.
Yes, it would be comforting to watch television for an hour instead of working on a project, but what would that hour accomplish? Yes, it would be relaxing and entertaining, but using an hour for entertaining is less profitable than using that same hour to finish a task. Procrastination can be both our best friend and our worst enemy. In truth, procrastination is that friend that’s always causing mischief. Have I painted an ugly enough picture of procrastination yet?
Avoiding this pest is one of the hardest things to do, and it will take boatloads of willpower. But, if you can conquer procrastination, you will notice a drastic change in your life. Success will come easier and your confidence will increase. It’s amazing just how much procrastination holds us back.
What are you setting as your highest priority? Maybe, just maybe, your priorities are a little misplaced. Stoic philosophy places emphasis on doing things rather than reading stories about others doing things.
This is why social media has become such a deterrent, and yet, we must have this tool for online work, keeping in touch with distant relatives, and reuniting friends. If we were to get rid of such technological advances, we would suffer from our dependency.
So…it’s about priorities. We don’t have to get rid of something in order to put it further back in line. We have to make a list of what’s most important and put more energy into that than say, reading posts and leaving comments on someone’s vacation photos. Get my drift?
“ A key point to bear in mind: The value of attentiveness varies in proportion to its object. You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve.”
-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
The first step in activating change within yourself is, to be honest with yourself. It may be hard to believe, but many people cannot see the fault within them and so they cannot correct the faults. Being honest is when you start to see the problem and accept that you need to do something about this.
Being honest with yourself before you judge or criticize others is a remarkable trait and an honorable characteristic. This signifies maturity and growth, thus quelling any disagreements that could be contributed to your unrealistic expectations of you and others.
Stoic philosophy helps us set a standard by which to live, get along better with others, and remain calm when under pressure. This way of thinking prepares us for life’s imperfections even before they happen. I believe I will look within and practice some of these ways myself. Hope you will give them a shot as well!