- Virtue and Ethics are the core beliefs of Stoicism. There are many principles of these two beliefs that are webbed together. What we strive to bring to you is the awareness of the practicality and ease to adapt in your daily lifestyle. So, without much ado, let’s get on to knowing the beliefs of Stoicism.
Crystal clear beliefs of Stoicism emerged from the Hellenistic era and were founded by Stoicism philosophers, Zeno, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. One reason could be that the beliefs are practical to adapt for a peaceful and stable life.
Stoicism is a philosophy that teaches the importance of being in control of our calmness in situations and being wise to accept that they are not in our control.
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Eudaimonia- goal of life
For stoics the principle to live with nature was Eudaimonia-life’s goal. The goal being to lead a good life. To summarize this principle by Epicpectus, human beings should behave in accordance with their nature. The difference between humans and beasts is that humans can think rationally and use their sensibilities. Humans have a great sense of reasoning unlike animals. This belief of Stoicism of living in accordance with our Nature helps us to reason and respond to our actions. This in turn is one of the ways to a good life.
Being Virtuous-The 4 Cardinal Virtues
Stoicism believes in living by high moral standards which was classified into Four Virtues.
- Wisdom: to be thoughtful, be wise, to have the right perception and judgement of actions.
- Justice: be fair in dealings, be benevolent, have a good heart and charitability
- Courage: be honest, bravery, fortitude, perseverance
- Self-discipline: to restrain from being emotional, being in control of oneself, forgiving and humble
Stoicism believes in reasoning and acting according to the Four virtues. By being as virtuous as possible and displaying an admirable self is in your control you do edge towards your Eudaimonia.
Focus on what is ‘up to us’
“To make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us.” – Epictetus
Our thoughts, actions, judgements, and speech are up to us. We can control them. The results we receive from them are entirely our responsibility. So, what is not up to us then? All that is not in our control- death, our reputation, money, loss, wealth, health, other’s opinion about us, other’s actions. You do everything which is in your control and accept the result in all fairness. You are explainable only to yourself for it. It is very imperative to practice this belief of Stoicism.
It is like the Javelin throw. The athlete measures the length and the speed to run and the point to release the spear. All this is in his control. The gusty wind or a breezy day is not in his control. There may be a chance for the spear to slow down before piercing the ground. A stoic athlete accepts the result with an attitude that he did best of what was in his control.
Be A Doer
Though it may be seen as ‘indifference’ at times, Stoics were not indifferent to their actions. Stoicism believed in being the warrior of the mind and put ideas into practice. Just because we cannot control a few things, should we just lay back and do nothing about it? Stoic philosophy professes otherwise. They believed that one should apply the ideas of learning into practical living. Knowledge is useless if it is not used for a purpose. Good life comes from doing right.
Stoic Premeditation-Ask ‘What if?’
To summarize the stoicism philosopher Seneca, we are not senseless to ask for misfortune to befall us, but also not to be senseless to assume all will be well. It is the negative visualization that keeps us well-prepared for adversities. Despite preparation, uncontrolled actions do happen. Asking ‘what if…?’ is a good practice for leaders. They have a plan B in place. They accept the diversion and sort it calmly. There is no fret or anxiety as in an otherwise situation where the roadblocks are not envisaged before.
Amor Fati- to love whatever that happens
To summarize a quote of Epictetus- do not seek events to happen as you wish them to happen, rather let events happen as do. Go with the flow and enjoy the flow as it is. Nietzsche, many centuries later came up with Amor Fati (a love of fate).
It is not just accepting; it is loving everything that happens; to accept what is not in our control and enjoy the process of what is happening. Sometimes when you do not like what is happening, it is best to accept it as the will of a Higher Power. It is like being leashed to a moving vehicle. Either you resist and get dragged and be hurt or trot along with the flow joyfully.
Reflection of the day
One of the core beliefs of Stoicism is to reflect on one’s day before retiring to bed. Take a review of the day. Ask yourself. What are the good and not so good that you experienced? How could you have done better? Where can you improve? Do I need to tweak my response? This habit will help you be mindful and lead you to the goal of life-a good life.
The Roman Emperor and a philosopher of Stoicism, Marcus Aurelius wrote his book called Meditations. It was primarily his daily reflection of his day which came to light two thousand years later. Meditations were adapted for leadership lessons by Heads of State and Political advisors around the world.
Stoicism in today’s world
Practicing Stoicism in today’s world may not be as hard core as the gone era. It is more about how we are aware of and adapt to a better way of living a good life. No wonder that the philosophy has stood against time with so much resilience. Many of the principles of Stoicism are followed by various sects preaching the art of living in the world.
Other articles on Evolve: Why Do College Students Procrastinate And How To Overcome It
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From sharing her views on blogs in MoTA to being a blogger in it, Lakshmi Srinath has been writing her thoughts since 2010. Thanks to a persuasive face-reader, she took Content writing on to a next level since August 2021 with a certification in the same, from Henry Harvin Education, India. When she is not among her thoughts and words writing content, you will find her pursuing her hobby in art or gardening or just gossiping the latest on insta, with her daughter. She staunchly believes that mental wellness leads to physical wellness. Lakshmi lives in Pune, India with her daughter and husband.