I fell into the ideas of the Stoics by accident (I heard it on TV and realized that I did not really know what it meant; so I used that greatest of encyclopedias – the Internet; to find out.) But I have been seduced by its simplicity and ability to be directly signposted to all the misfortunes that I have had to endure. It certainly has helped me most recently in coming to terms with not just all my financial and emotional losses, but especially in terms of my “death” experience. I would like to share some of their philosophical ideas and welcome robust debate around their topics.
Stoicism is Ideal for the Real World
The Stoics were writing honestly, often self-critically, about how they could become better people, be happier, and deal with the problems they faced.
They saw that virtue (such as wisdom) is happiness and judgment should be based on behavior, rather than words. That we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.
Ultimately, that’s what Stoicism is about. It’s not some systematic discussion of why or how the world exists. It is a series of reminders, tips and aids for living a good life.
I like that it is all about us improving ourselves, having no judgement on other people or their belief systems; and realising that we can only control ourselves.
Since the global epidemic has crept upon us, not just as the unexpected, unbiased and silent killer of homo sapiens; but also as the destroyer of life as a secondary effect (loss of income, of possessions, of purpose, of self-confidence, loss of life due to other disease relegated to the back seats of the hospital departments, loss of life due to starvation, or suicide, or fear). We see capitalism failing the people of lands, populist leaders inexplicably retaining political support whislt implementing yet greater controls over freedom and people’s rights.
Where will this all lead? who knows? how many really care? Do we go back to “normality” as it was: greedy, selfish, destroying? or do we try to use this amazing opportunity to create a new “normal”; we see smog and pollution dissipating, jellyfish in Venice, goats, foxes and even mountain lions in towns; we see penguins in Cape Town….it shows us how very possible it is for our natural world to regenerate, and quickly.
Somehow I doubt that the majority of the world/s (leaders?) will care about this and will just wish to find new ways of becoming rich again (or on top).
This is where the Stoics come from, this is the type of situation that they prepared themselves for, that led to their success whilst all else was falling down around their ears. So in a strange way, I feel as though I am emotionally better off than most and able to manage the current situation as just part of my life – not a life changing or scary unforeseen event.
I have put a link to the Daily Stoic website as they have amazing information, including daily emails and courses, which are relevant, include references and suggested activities. I do not wish to regurgitate what they disseminate (it is their material), rather I will “stream of consciousness” my thoughts.