I discovered stoicism months ago. I was a person who reacted to many things that crossed my way, and most of them were things that didn’t deserve my attention. With the crisis in the city, people changing, and things not going the way you planned, it will cause some negative emotions to start burning inside.
Stoicism was founded by a wealthy trader who lived in 300 BC in the city of Cyprus called Zeno. He lost all his cargo on his trip from Phoenicia to Piraeus. This uncontrollable event turned Zeno from a wealthy man into a poor man. Most people’s reactions would be anger, sadness, etc. But not for the father of stoicism Zeno.
Stoicism is based on acceptance and indifference.
What I learned from stoicism is that although we don’t have control over things that happen to us, we do have control over how it affects us. Our power lies in controlling how we respond to things outside our control.
A single event in someone’s life can affect his entire day and sometimes can extend for the whole week. Bad things always happen in life, we become sad not because these bad things happen to us, but because we didn’t expect them to happen to us.
For example, in a relationship, we always expect our partner to be loyal, funny, and other things we expect. But when you find out your woman is cheating on you, you become sad, depressed, and angry. For a stoic person, these factors are outside our control. Instead of being sad and depressed when you find your partner cheating, you should accept it and control how you react because cheating happens in many relationships and it isn’t something new.
This perspective contributed to a big change in my life. I stopped thinking about and trying to control things outside my control, like other people’s minds, the weather, the past, and country issues. Instead, I started taking control of the things I could control like my temper, reaction, mindset, and emotions. From that time I saw a great change in my life. I realized many new and beneficial lessons. Some of them are:
- When you place your happiness or anything that can affect your mood on external things you can’t control, you will continue to live in disappointment that never ends.
- When you can calm down in an unexpected event that happens to you and don’t let your reaction to any situation be emotional, you feel powerful and make logical decisions and moves that will benefit your life.
- The problem isn’t always the problem itself, but how we react to an event makes that event a problem.
Unexpected events that make people fear trying new things are inevitable. A meaningful and fulfilling life is achieved by overcoming these fears and finding happiness within.
Stoicism philosophy nowadays is misinterpreted. People think a stoic person is a person who has got rid of his emotions, those who are unbroken, and those who don’t go through anxiety. Stoicism is a way of life. It allows us to operate negative emotions from negative events into thoughts that give us a unique and different perspective about the life we live and the world.
One of the important stoic exercises is voluntary discomfort
It’s a stoic exercise to increase feelings of gratitude. It’s one of the exercises I needed the most. When bad things happen, it shatters our minds and ruins our plans, which makes us think everything is over. This small event can make us forget how blessed we are. Practicing voluntary discomfort is simple. You live a life below your mean. Take a cold shower instead of a hot one. Take the public transport if you have a car, or walk the whole road if you use public transport. You will realize that you can survive in these hard times. When you return to your normal routine, your feeling of gratefulness will increase. You become grateful for having your partner or the life you are living.
In our current materialistic world where there are a lot of advertisements displaying how your life can become better when you buy this new product or you can be happy after finishing reading a certain book, and other external things that people rely on. Stoicism changed my life by changing my perspective of how I view materials.
Your happiness should depend on internal things
I used to think I would become happy if I bought the car of my dream, or bought that new phone. After learning more about stoicism, I realized that you run a risk when you place your happiness on external things. Cars and phones can easily crush, people can easily leave you, a friend can betray you, and that business may fail. External things can change. When you link your happiness with them, you run the risk of countless disappointments and sadness. But that doesn’t mean we don’t work to achieve our dreams and buy our dream cars. We don’t place our happiness on these external things, but on an intrinsic value that we can’t physically acquire.