What Is Stoicism?


What Is Stoicism?

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Stoicism is a classical philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium back in 300BCE. It asserts that the practice of virtue is both necessary and sufficient to achieve eudaimonia (one of my favorite SAT words), meaning a life well lived. This uses the Aristotelian definition of virtue.

I believe it’s a philosophy from the Ancient Greek era that preaches ideas along the lines of ‘don’t concern yourself with what you cannot control’ and that you are in control of how you react, your emotions etc.

To my mind, it’s the idea that you try to avoid having excessive emotional reactions to people or situations that you encounter in your life, especially if you don’t have control over them.

Think about what is happening and try to respond in a logical, useful, caring way.

Stoicism: if you feel mad or bad or sad, don’t get wrapped up in those feelings. Keep some distance between yourself and your emotions.

Same thing if you feel happy, glad, or rad. Don’t get too attached to those feelings, either.

Instead, focus on what’s important to you and understand that emotions should not guide you – they are just signs that you can use to figure out what’s going on inside of you.

A long time ago, a guy in Greece (shows you where Greece is on the map, because you’re 5 y.o.) had too much time to think, so he thought up a new set of rules for looking at life. This is called a philosophy. He didn’t just make this up out of thin air though, because he had another philosophy to draw inspiration from at the time, called Cynicism.

In Cynicism, you’re taught to expect the worst, so you’ll never be unhappy. Stoicism tweaked this and teaches to accept that things happen regardless of how you feel about them. Therefore, it makes sense to not let your feelings get out of control and affect the way you think, because that might cause you to do silly things.

Unfortunately in modern times people have reduced this teaching to mean; “be emotionless, indifferent, or apathetic”. There is a lot more to Stoicism than that.