In the popular heritage, having a stoic attitude is synonymous with facing life’s difficulties with integrity.
Stoicism is a philosophical current composed of writings and meditations, developed by Greek and Roman teachers, and that has served as the basis for reflections, recommendations and reasoning, eminently practical.
What’s more, has been an inspiration for the most important current and ancient currents of thought, as well as for the most modern psychological theories, and has even influenced the great monotheistic religions. Therefore, we could consider that despite being an ancient wisdom, its teachings are still valid today.
The Basics of Stoic Psychology
These are the pillars of Stoic psychology.
1. Search for peace of mind
Immerse yourself in the writings of great masters of this discipline such as Marco Aurelio the philosopher emperor, Epictetus the slave or Seneca the Cordovan. It is approach a practice that puts at the center the ability of each person to govern themselves.
In the books of these and other sages of antiquity, we can find different ways to achieve what the Greeks called “Eudaimonia”. In today’s language we would translate it as tranquility of the soul, emotional stability or mental balance.
2. Down with dogmatisms
It is essential to bear in mind that these authors wrote their works more than two thousand years ago, so many of their recommendations (such as the total extirpation of passions) would not make sense in today’s world.
In addition, you have to understand the social and historical context in which these masters lived where slavery was totally normalized and accepted or the role of women was tremendously secondary (although unfortunately, this is still valid today).
But Stoic thinking is not a dogma to be followed to the letter; in fact, they believed that there is no one way to live life. In their postulates, in addition to being very tolerant with other ways of life and in general with all members of society, they considered the human being fundamentally sociable, capable of reasoning and reaching agreements.
3. Psychological toolbox
This philosophy endows us today with a series of extremely valuable psychological tools, eminently practical, easy to understand and very current, that each one can use as best suits them. Serve as an example the simple and useful tips that we can find in the famous book “the Inquiridion” by Epictetus.
Examine our impressions, reflect on the transience of things, pause and take a deep breath, speak little and correctly, choose the company well, respond to insults with humor, do not talk too much about ourselves, do not judge anyone, reflect on our day, etc.
How to live better?
Doing a synthesis exercise, we can understand four main stoic virtues. These are a fantastic and simple compendium of attitudes towards life that can help us to better understand the world and incidentally, to have a fuller life.
1. Cultivate wisdom as practice
Curiosity, study and learning as a vital attitude and way of understanding the world around us.
2. Do not assume that you are living in a tragedy
Courage for face the vicissitudes of life as pure events and not as tragedies.
3. Practice justice with the people around us
As Marco Aurelio said, “what does not suit the honeycomb, does not suit the bee”.
4. Seek to enhance temperance
It is important have temperance before some passions such as anger, as well as negative events, such as the death of a loved one or your own illness.
In short, we recommend reading these teachers, as they are a real pleasure for the senses, given the beauty and depth of their words. There are three fundamental principles of this vital approach.
1. Virtue is the greatest of goods and everything else is indifferent
The search for the good for himself and for humanity it is the maxim of every human being. The rest is superfluous.
2. Follow nature
Each being has something that is particular to him and in himself is what he must follow. Just as for a river its being is to flow until it flows into the sea, in the case of people following reason and doing good, it is the end of all activity.
3. Dichotomy of control
Something as simple and therapeutic as understand that there are things that we do not control and other things that do depend on ourselves. Therefore, we must strive to cultivate what we can really control (feelings, passions, actions) and admit as part of the natural flow of life what we do not control (diseases, accidents, deaths).