THE STOIC PHILOSOPHY EXPLAINED
REMEMBER 3 THINGS
1. There are things you have control over.
2. There are things you have partial control over.
3. There are things you have no control over.
On which one should you concentrate the most?
Better said, on which one you should concentrate the least?
Most of us concentrate too much on what we can’t control. Let me give you a few examples:
- gas prices
- growing old
- most of life
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. You should actually talk or listen when someone tells you how the weather is going to be like. Just take it as an information that can help you and not something that has an effect on your mood.
Source: Natalie Dee
HISTORY OF STOICISM
This might be boring for most, so if you want to read the whole Stoic philosophy history, you can check it by clicking here, which is the Wikipedia link that covers anything you might want to know.
You can see the graph below for a visual understanding.
Zeno of Citium founded it in Athens and the most influential Stoics you will probably hear about are:
- Marcus Aurelius
Now what exactly is Stoicism?
STOICISM is a way of thinking.
WHY IS STOICISM IMPORTANT TODAY?
We are living in the 21 century, what is the keyword of this century?
Yes, you might think technology, but at the core of it, it is evolution at a fast pace.
There is something that we can speed up as well, or better said, improve. Guessed what already?
Unfortunately for it, the demands on our brain are too high in this day and age. The person who is expecting the most is actually ourselves. We want our brain to:
- be smart
- be productive
- do hard work
- do easy work
- be prepared for a challenge
- remember to pay all the bills
- remember what is good to eat
- remember drinking enough water
- feed the cat
- remember to actually sleep
I think these are just a few things we expect from our brain on a consistent basis. Will we do all of these things perfectly all the time as we expect?
Most probably absolutely positively 100% not.
This is the part where the Stoic philosophy comes in to help us feel better and just calm down for a second. We don’t have to do 100 things in one day or get to the moon until we go to bed.
Perception is our reality.
Our imagination shapes our reality
DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE POWER OF PERCEPTION?
Imagine you are born in a family that earns $1 million/year in the United States. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Well it does sound good for just about anyone as far as money goes. Now let’s add a twist.
You are the poorest family in the neighbourhood.
All other families are earning over $20 million/year. You will get a car as a gift when you grow up, but your friend next door will get 3 cars. You will receive a nice apartment, but all your friends will receive a house because they can afford more than you.
This will put you in a loop where you will probably never be happy enough because although you are rich by many standards, you don’t feel it, because everyone else has it too.
Now imagine you were born in an economically challenged country in Africa.
All your friends are only able to afford a maximum of 2 small meals a day and have to measure carefully the amount of water they use.
On the other hand, although the quality of food you have is not the best since it’s still cheap food, you can afford to eat as much as you want and water is not such a big problem, because your family can afford it.
Now how would you feel when everyone else is struggling with food and water, while you have enough and your problems are just on the internet and not having a better phone.
THE 7 STOIC PRINCIPLES TO ADD TO YOUR LIFE
Now it’s time for the most important part.
How do you actually implement the stoic philosophy into your mind?
Always remember, stoicism is a way of thinking.
It’s important to understand that if you want a good operating system for your brain, you will have to try to implement some of these principles into your life, until they become part of you. You can’t have the best operating system if you put in it just random principles and values.
Would you pay extra for Apple’s iOS?
Remember this operating system is FREE. You just have to take some time to read again and again until it becomes part of you.
Do you have some favorite TV shows you watch again and again? Maybe a song you put on repeat?
Do the same with this article, it might not be enough to read only once, trust me, I’ve gone through it. Only through repetition, it can become natural.
7 Principles of Highly Effective Stoics
#1 VISUALISE THE WORST CASE SCENARIO
Imagine you are going to your job on a Monday, but instead of doing the expected work, something else happens.
You get fired.
Now how would that feel? No job, no savings, you just didn’t expect this to happen.
Now imagine this was just a bad dream.
How much better you would feel on that Monday, knowing you will get to your safe workplace and the end of the day, you’re back in your safe home. Free time, enough money to pay the bills, as much water and food as you want, comfortable bed.
See the difference of how you would feel just by thinking of what might happen? At the same time, how good do you feel when you take into account all the things you have?
This is the power of GRATITUDE.
Unfortunately, unless we think about the worst case scenario, it is pretty hard for us to truly appreciate what we already have.
#2 DO THE OPPOSITE
This is something you wouldn’t think of, would it?
If you are feeling angry, what is the opposite? You guessed it, being happy.
Changing emotion might not be easy, but who says it can’t be done? Angry that you have to wait in traffic or stay too much in line at the grocery shop? Why not take advantage of that “free time” and listen to an audiobook or do something that puts you in a better emotional state?
Try to calm down.
Being angry doesn’t help. It just puts you in a bad mood. Ever heard of anyone taking the best decision while having a bad mood? If you’re stressed, your mind won’t think clearly and you will not be able to use your knowledge optimally.
Transform the negative emotion to positive.
#3 FAILURE IS PART OF THE GAME
You might have heard of this person who failed more than 1000 times.
Wait a second, 1000 times?
For most of us, failing even 1 time means we are going to give up.
Actually, as a baby, were you able to speak fluently from your first try? How about walking? Now you see where I am coming from?
The person who had 1000 unsuccessful attempts before finally being able to finish his work, which we all know today, was Thomas Edison. He invented the light bulb after failing over 1000 times.
This is exactly the reason he DID succeed. All the failures helped him gain more experienced, which ultimately lead to a unique creation.
Expect to fail.
A Powerful Thomas Edison Quote
#4 THERE IS NO GOOD OR BAD, SEE EVERYTHING AS NEUTRAL
You need to try to look at every event jn your life as neither being good or bad. Don’t fall in that trap.
Our brain is used to see what is bad. Why is that you ask?
Our brain has evolved to first and foremost keep us alive. It will always look to be aware of any dangers around us. That is why, so often, we see how something could go bad. However, let me give you an example. What if you wash your car and the next day, a heavy rain leaves it with dirt and dust. Would you be mad? Most probably. But think for a second, is this a thing that you would see as bad? Is there anything or anyone to blame? If you think for a second, it is actually neutral.
It was just a rain.
Of course, that might mean you have to wash it again, but that’s how nature works. If the wind is blowing harder one day, your nose might not really like it, but would you get mad on the wind? Would you feel bad for the nose?
Life is a balance between positive and negative.
Learn to look at everything as being neutral. Some things just happen. Take them as they are.
#5 PRACTICE POVERTY
This is extremely important because many people fear poverty.
What do most people chase all of their life?
We all need money for many of our different needs or wants, but there is a certain point over which we actually get more dissatisfaction rather than satisfaction.
Now how can we actually implement this into our lives? How could we practice poverty? Pretty simple.
For a few days, try to go without a daily habit you enjoy.
It could be drinking coffee, smoking a cigar, eating something you enjoy.
Try wearing some of your cheaper clothes for a few days. Skip a few meals. There are many choices.
Why do this? Simple.
It boosts your willpower and self-control.
After you pause something you enjoy for a few days, when you will come back to it, you will feel it as a treat. You will appreciate it more. We are using again the power of gratitude. See how important it is to take action in a direction that makes us appreciate what we have more than we usually do?
Assume voluntary discomfort.
#6 CREATE A CONTROL GRID
Do you have Microsoft Excel on your computer?
Most probably yes. If not, just use google sheets. It’s all free.
It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to create a control grid.
What is a control grid?
It’s basically a simple 3 column layout, where you can write down 3 short, but important lists:
- things YOU CAN control
- things YOU CAN PARTIALLY control
- things YOU CAN NOT control
This is very important because you will actually see what you should focus on.
Never try to concentrate on the things you CAN NOT control. It just means you will take away your mental energy for the things you CAN actually control or just partially control.
Spend energy on things you CAN control.
Control Grid Example
#7 THE GOOD LIFE IS THE PRESENT ONE
We all have things we are looking forward to.
However, this is something that many times, doesn’t let us concentrate on the present moment. We might be present physically, but not mentally.
Do you remember how easy it was in school to think about anything else except what the professor was trying to teach you? How about when you are trying to fall asleep but you’re only thinking of how the day went or how tomorrow is going to be?
If you don’t enjoy the present moment, you won’t enjoy the present moment in the future either.
To be able to do this, you have to stop thinking about the past or the future too much, this doesn’t leave you enough time to enjoy the present.
Where we invest our time is where we invest our lives.
Did you see a similar pattern here? We are circling around gratitude. Why is that? Because it’s one of the most important tools you can use in your life. There is no happy person in this world that is not grateful for what they have, no matter if it’s a helicopter, a house, a bed or just water.
FAMOUS PEOPLE USING STOICISM
Do you think I’m the only one who thinks the Stoic Operating System is among the best you could use?
I will give you a list of other people who have used the stoic philosophy in their life, with great success. You might have heard of some of them.
- J.K. Rowling – author of the Harry Potter series.
- Tim Ferriss – author, entrepreneur, self-proclaimed “human guinea pig” and public speaker.
- Ryan Holiday – author, marketer, and entrepreneur
- Lupe Fiasco – rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur.
- Bill Clinton – 42nd President of the United States.
- Nasim Taleb – essayist, scholar, statistician, former trader and risk analyst.
- Theodore Roosevelt – 26th President of the United States.
- Neil Strauss – author, journalist and ghostwriter.
Famous Modern Stoics
This has been a long post, definitely a lot of information to digest. However, that is why I usually recommend going over great content a couple of times. You can always find new golden nuggets that were not as visible on the first read.
Now, as usual, I will give the short summary. So here are the 7 principles of highly effective Stoics:
#1 Visualise the worst case scenario
#2 Do the opposite
#3 Failure is part of the game
#5 Practice poverty
#6 Create a control grid
#7 The good life is the present one
The Stoic type of thinking has helped me a lot in shifting my focus and attention on what matters most, and I’m sure it will help you too if you go over these principles a couple of times.
Always remember that your mind is your most important tool for helping you experience life.
Own your days or the days will own you.
Final Quote to Keep You Motivated