What Stoicism Teaches You

Stoicism is a philosophy that is conflated to mean “emotionless” and “unfeeling” when, in fact, that isn’t even close to what the philosophy actually means.

Stoicism simply means taking eternal events as they are rather than how you think they are. It means not adding any of your preconceived notions and opinions to events that have nothing to do with you in the first place.

Example: someone cuts you off in traffic and you go into a rage. How does that rage do you any good? How does it change the circumstance? You still have to wait for traffic to flow again anyway. You still have to wait that ten-fifteen minutes, so why frustrate and stress yourself into an early grave during that time?

People tend to have a childish conception of philosophy and life in general, and these conceptions are the reason for their stress, frustration, anger, grief, misery, and any other negative emotion you can think of.

A stoic tenet is that it is not the event itself that is good or bad, but your views and opinions about the events that cause the anger within you.

It is easy to be angry, but, to be angry at the right person at the right time for the right reason and in the right way. This is not in everyone’s power and it is not easy.

Aristotle

The thing about stoicism is that it isn’t the elimination of emotions but the domestication of them. It is realizing what is in and out of your control and only being concerned about things within your control.

Take this quote by Aristotle for example, to be angry with someone for the right reason, at the right time, in the right way exhibits a control over the emotion of anger so you don’t deliver undue consequences or punishments unwarranted by the crime. Thus, the punishment must fit the crime.

To use good judgment and to make proper decisions is what stoicism preaches. The ancient philosophers understood that emotions are part of human nature and they aren’t going anywhere. However, that didn’t mean they couldn’t exercise precise and near total control over them through the faculty of reasoning and logic.

So, the next time something happens that is out of your control (probably within the next couple minutes), take the time to recognize it as an external, detach yourself from the event itself and realize it has nothing to do with you. Remove your ego for that one moment, and understand you’re not going to die if someone says something intended to insult or slight you.

The only reason events affect you is because you allow them to. The only reasons other people’s actions rouse emotions out of you is because you’re giving your power away. Recognize this, take your power back, and take your life back. Stop giving it away to every stranger, family member, friend, neighbor, etc.

It’s not worth stressing yourself into an early grave.

And that’s what stoicism teaches you.

Alright, that’s my spiel. Til next time!

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