Toughen Up! How Stoicism Can Help
Are you stuck in your life? As a general word, stoicism is the endurance of pain or hardship without complaint or display of emotion.
As a philosophy, Stoicism is much more. It was advocated by the most influential Greeks in history. It’s also enjoying a significant resurgence in modern society. Maybe a little Greek philosophy is just what the doctor ordered to get you “unstuck” so you can happily move forward.
Use these ideas from Stoic philosophy to face any challenge:
1. The obstacle is the path. Obstacles aren’t something to be avoided. They are meant to be conquered. Obstacles lie in the most direct path to success. Therefore, you can be happy you’ve reached an obstacle. It means you’re about to make great progress.
2. Only worry about those things under your control. The actions of others, the weather, and the fact that your mother wasn’t nice to you when you were a child are out of your control. Save your focus and other resources for those things you can influence.
3. Understand you are the sole source of your emotions. Events don’t create your emotions. The stories you tell yourself about those events create your emotions. All conflict begins internally.
4. Failure isn’t final. There is no reason to have negative emotions regarding failure or positive emotions regarding success. Both are just outcomes that can be handled logically and intelligently.
5. Get things done. Stoics believed in being productive over being comfortable. Logically decide what needs to be done and get those things done. Keep your emotions in check and take care of your business. Stoics were very aware of the importance of time and avoiding wasting it.
6. Be present. Stoics were against living in your head. We live in a time of great distractions. We’re also good at reliving the past and projecting ourselves into the future. Stoics were adamant about dealing with reality, right here and right now. What have you ever accomplished by thinking about the past or the future?
7. Keep your expectations reasonable. The great stoics of the past believed that it was ridiculous and odd to be surprised by anything. Frustration is often the result of unreasonable expectations. For example, if you made $10,000 this year, it’s unlikely that you’ll make $1 million next year.
8. Be virtuous. The greatest accomplishment to a Stoic was living a virtuous life, regardless of the circumstances. Stick to your values, even when life is most challenging.
9. Stop caring what others think. We tend to value ourselves more than we value others, yet we care more about the opinions of others than we do our own opinions. Impress yourself and avoid worrying about whether everyone else is impressed.
10. Be grateful. Avoid focusing on the things you lack. Instead, be happy with your blessings. This is a sign of wisdom to a Stoic. At the end of each day, ask yourself a few questions. What did I do correctly? What actions were less than effective? How can I have a better day tomorrow?
Most of the people in modern society could stand to be a little more stoic. It’s time to toughen up a little bit. Face life and its many obstacles head on. Take a lesson from the great Greek philosophers and give this new way of thinking a try. You’ll like the results.
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