Need some guidance fellow stoics. I’ve recently rediscovered stoicism and I’m trying to redirect my life. However there’s a decision in which I don’t know how to proceed.
Long story shortish: after a long relationship breakup I got into hookups. Basically because of loneliness and seeking validation.
Due to the nature of the reasons why I started hooking up I think abstaining from hookups while working on said reasons would be preferred.
On the other hand, I understand I’m 21 and my hormones are crazy. I also understand that the impulse for sex is natural. Sex on its own isn’t bad. I could acknowledge said loneliness and need for validation, work on them (as I’m doing, and making great progress), and have sex because its enjoyable and in my nature.
I’ve grown in a catholic environment and although I don’t really practice it many of my personal values and ideals are in line with it.
Now, the problem comes here: I have mixed feelings about hooking up. I enjoy it very much. But in contrast I also feel bad about it, because I’m not acting in line with my moral values. Although I don’t feel good about it I can’t find any rational reason to abstain, given its risk free (that makes abstaining much more difficult to me). Also it worries me that at some level I’m masking my loneliness and how I feel about myself by not abstaining.
So my question to you. How should I proceed? I feel like its a dilemma between my moral and rationality/nature.
Should my moral values change and adjust? (can they?) Or should I accept my moral values and force my acts to be in line with them?
If I’m not acting in line with my moral values, am I following passions then?
If I want to follow my values, but have a hard time doing it so because I can’t rationalise them, how can I successfully stick to them?
I hope this makes sense, thanks for taking the time to read.
Please, if my understanding of stoicism and/or reasoning is wrong at some point, point it out.
PS (non related). The other day I got something stolen. It was something I had been saving up for a year and a half. Something that meant a lot. First thing that came to mind “You’re a stoic now. How are you gonna react?”. I reacted well. And good god it felt amazing.
Many poems from early Tamil literature -- especially those from Purananuru - a compilation of Tamil poetry about war and wisdom from around 100 BC (roughly contemporaneous with the Stoics) -- seem deeply steeped in Stoic thought. I thought r/Stoicism might appreciate it, so quickly put together a couple.
This English translation of the 192nd poem of Purananuru by G.U. Pope captures the Stoic spirit really well.
The Sages To us all towns are one, all men our kin,
Life's good comes not from others' gifts, nor ill,
Man's pains and pain's relief are from within,
Death's no new thing, nor do our blossoms thrill
When joyous life seems like a luscious draught.
When grieved, we patient suffer; for, we deem
This much-praised life of ours a fragile raft
Borne down the waters of some mountain stream
That o'er huge boulders roaring seeks the plain
Tho' storms with lightning's flash from darkened skies.
Descend, the raft goes on as fates ordain.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !
We marvel not at the greatness of the great;
Still less despise we men of low estate.
- Kaniyan Pungundranar, Purananuru, 192
Another one, by a Pandyan prince Iḷamperuvaḻuti (who is described to have perished at sea) reflects the idea of supporting the community. The translation is mine.
This world endures because of men
who, were they to receive
the nectar of the gods,
would not drink it alone,
thinking only of its sweetness;
men with no hatred in their hearts,
who slacken not, fearing what others dread;
men who would gladly offer their lives for a glorious cause;
but were it to have even a shadow of dishonour, would spurn it,
even if it means losing the whole world;
men with no regrets;
with virtues so exalted,
they toil unceasingly,
not for their own good,
but for the sake of others.
Because such men live, we do.
- Iḷamperuvaḻuti - who perished at sea, Purananuru, 182
Here's a slightly more down-to-earth translation from the book The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom:
This world exists because men exist who even if they
were to win the divine drink of the gods would not drink it
by themselves only thinking of its sweetness, men without
hate, without slackness in action though they may have fears
like the fears of other men, who would even give their lives
for fame but would not accept fame with dishonour in it were it
to gain them all the world, men who have no regrets, and with virtues
so exalted, never exert their powerful energies
for themselves but only for others. It is because they exist that we do!
Early Tamil kingdoms had active trade with the Greco-Roman empire, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was some exchange of ideas. Even if not, it's very heartening to see that plenty of other civilisations have converged to some form of Stoic thought. :)
Yes, this is a "Thank you" post.
It's been a rough year in my life realistically speaking. I didn't know how to deal with the anger, betrayal, and other life shit. I came back to philosophy in general because I felt (and still largely do) that psychology fails, at least in the way we are often taught that it succeeds. At any rate, I didn't feel it would help me at this time. I respect everyone's opinion on the matter but that's mine and I don't desire to debate it.
I found Stoicism which I had known a bit about but never really understood completely (as probably many of us at some point) and on more or less a whim decided to adopt some of it's habits. I was attracted to the fact that it doesn't just say "it is what it is" which is a phrase I wish would fall off the face of the planet. It says "it isn't what you think it is" and if you really put your thought into it, this sort of logic will always put you back on the right path. It's telling you "life is hard, it's painful and unjust" and you have to accept all of it because that really is your only (good) option.
I'm probably the worst practitioner of Stoicism that can exist. I'd make most of the people here angry with the sort of things I have to say about my interpretation of Stoic works. I still have miserable days where impression has ruined me. It took me a year but now in daily matters where anger or depression can start to overwhelm me, I can start to shift my views. I can retreat into my mind which will always provide me a logical answer rather than an emotional response.
There were many times I thought that reading this crap (Stoic works) was not going to do anything for me. I've read the lines, listened to the enchiridion over and over but it doesn't change REAL things that happen to you. I let myself fall to the impression that it wasn't working for me, I had plenty of proof because again, I'm the worst practicing Stoic out there. Today however I realized I'm doing much of the practices almost automatically, and that it all works you just have to fake it til you make it (another lame phrase, but eh).
I have read some of the side bar and 3 books that were recommended here, but I have a question.
I understand (or I think I do) what propositional logic is. While reading I've read in at least 2 books that you can use it to make choices in your life.
So, I am attempting to figure out how to do that. I read that you need to dispassionately simplify things down to the base issues and then you can apply propositional logic. However, it's harder than it sounds.
Example: I'm in a leadership position in an organization. My organization has an unpleasant event to attend in another city this weekend to support members in that city. Another (subordinate) member said almost a month ago that he would go with me to this event. Yesterday he backed out. I actually expected this, and accept it. However, I feel I need to do something about it, to discourage similar behavior in the future , and administer an official warning (as is due per the organizations rules). I feel this is my duty as it falls within the parameters of my position.
Using propositional logic to decide, A. Should I do something and B. If so, what should I do?
A is easy, yes I should do something.
B leads me down a rabbit hole with no possible end and multiple starting points. ei Yes and No questions are easy, but how do you use propositional logic to decide open ended questions?
Dear Stoicism community, I was hoping someone could help me understand the part about Augustus in Seneca's essay "On the brevity of life". As I understand, the author is providing an example of a figure, who makes the mistake of wasting life on other people, despite his powerful position in society. Please correct me if I am wrong.
I’ve been fascinated with the practical aspects of Stoicism since reading William Irvine’s “Guide To The Good Life.” Negative visualization, voluntary discomfort, and goal internalization have made small but noticeable changes in my life.
In between reading Meditations and Bejamin Franklin’s biography, I realized that self-improvement is a lifelong pursuit that requires consistent effort beyond my usual consumption of wise words and occasional meditation. Franklin had 13 virtues that he spent his life trying to master. Each week, he would focus on mastering one of them. In the evening, he would recall the day’s events and decide if he lived up to the virtue. This is in line with what Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and many other wise people have practiced.
Inspired by their examples, I’ve been keeping a stoic journal and copying Franklin’s virtue method for a few months now. I often fail to live up to my virtues, but I am making consistent progress.
Just by reflecting each day and spotting inane patterns of behavior, I have replaced some bad habits with good ones. I also write down negative visualizations and various things I am grateful for every morning. This, along with some mindfulness meditation when I’m extra good, puts me in the best possible state of mind for the rest of the day.
Up until now I have been using a note-taking app to keep the journal, but it’s far from ideal. So I’m building a journal specifically for daily improvement.
If this sounds like something you’d use, I would love to have you as a beta tester. You can submit your email on www.Kailius.com and I’ll reach out when it’s ready to test.
I know this community has been involved with PocketStoic, and I’m not looking to step on any toes. I usually build things I need and forget to tell people about them, but this time it feels like what I’m building could be very helpful for other people. If you have been keeping a stoic journal and have some suggestions for features you would like to see, please let me know!
PS: Thank you all for your enlightening posts and discussions. They have been a pleasure to lurk.
I've tried practicing stoicism for a couple of years now, to varying degrees of success and I look to it now in this time of great personal strife.
Today my girlfriend told me that she has been raped for multiple years, all by her sisters boyfriend. At hearing this I was speechless, I tried comforting her but I can't even fathom what she is going through so ultimately I pressured her to come to the police station with me. (I've heard that it's best to let victims take their time but as the rapist is a person close to the family I felt she needed to do this ASAP to be safe.) At the station I sat with her as the detective asked about the assaults in excrutiating detail. This was a horrifying experience for me so I can't even imagine how it must be for her.
We are now finally finished and I'm trying to find ways to be supportive but I'm struggling to hold myself together; so I ask the followers of my favorite philosophy: How would a Stoic deal with this and how would one help a love one that has had only the briefest of introductions to the philosophy?
I came across the 7 deadly sins today, and wanted some more opinions on it. The 7 sins are Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, Lust, Pride, Greed & Sloth. Its said that a person should be free from these emotions. For being free, you have to strengthen Kindness (cures Envy), Temperance (cures Gluttony), Charity/Love (cures Greed), Self control (cures Lust), Humility (cures Pride), Diligence (cures Sloth) and Patience (cures Wrath).
I found this kind of interesting. What are your thoughts?
I decided to share what I've been highlighting from various Stoic books, I'll post one every now and then.
If you already read this one, the highlights could help you remember some of it. If you haven't, reading them could be a good way to decide whether to read it or not. Feel free to comment about which ones you liked, which ones are missing or whatever you feel like.
List of books:
It is, in other words, not objects and events but the interpretations we place on them that are the problem. Our duty is therefore to exercise stringent control over the faculty of perception, with the aim of protecting our mind from error
do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable. You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that’s all even the gods can ask of you
death and life, success and failure, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all these happen to good and bad alike, and they are neither noble nor shameful and hence neither good nor bad
what is human deserves our affection because it is like us. And our pity too, sometimes, for its inability to tell good from bad as terrible a blindness as the kind that can’t tell white from black
you can’t lose either the past or the future; how could you lose what you don’t have?
Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful
You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious
to care for all human beings is part of being human. Which doesn’t mean we have to share their opinions. We should listen only to those whose lives conform to nature
How to act: Never under compulsion, out of selfishness, without forethought, with misgivings. Don’t gussy up your thoughts. No surplus words or unnecessary actions. Let the spirit in you represent a man, an adult, a citizen, a Roman, a ruler. Taking up his post like a soldier and patiently awaiting his recall from life. Needing no oath or witness. Cheerfulness. Without requiring other people’s help. Or serenity supplied by others. To stand up straight not straightened
Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill will, or hypocrisy, or a desire for things best done behind closed doors
concentrate on this, your whole life long: for your mind to be in the right state the state a rational, civic mind should be in
Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see. The span we live is small, small as the corner of the earth in which we live it. Small as even the greatest renown, passed from mouth to mouth by short-lived stick figures, ignorant alike of themselves and those long dead
Stop drifting. You’re not going to re-read your Brief Comments, your Deeds of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, the commonplace books you saved for your old age. Sprint for the finish. Write off your hopes, and if your well-being matters to you, be your own savior while you can
Nowhere you can go is more peaceful more free of interruptions than your own soul
no one does the wrong thing deliberately
look at how soon we’re all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of all those applauding hands. The people who praise us how capricious they are, how arbitrary
things have no hold on the soul. They stand there unmoving, outside it. Disturbance comes only from within from our own perceptions
everything you see will soon alter and cease to exist. Think of how many changes you’ve already seen. “The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.”
Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been
every event is the right one. Look closely and you’ll see
Not to live as if you had endless years ahead of you
People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too
most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, “Is this necessary?”
Don’t be disturbed. Uncomplicate yourself
Life is short. That’s all there is to say. Get what you can from the present thoughtfully, justly
Poor: (adj.) requiring others; not having the necessities of life in one’s own possession
The value of attentiveness varies in proportion to its object. You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve
what should we work for? Only this: proper understanding; unselfish action; truthful speech. A resolve to accept whatever happens as necessary and familiar, flowing like water from that same source and spring
Nothing that goes on in anyone else’s mind can harm you
Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone
Suppose that a god announced that you were going to die tomorrow “or the day after.” Unless you were a complete coward you wouldn’t kick up a fuss about which day it was, what difference could it make? Now recognize that the difference between years from now and tomorrow is just as small
To be like the rock that the waves keep crashing over
It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it, not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it
At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm? But it’s nicer here... So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands? But we have to sleep sometime... Agreed. But nature set a limit on that as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota
People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it
If an action or utterance is appropriate, then it’s appropriate for you. Don’t be put off by other people’s comments and criticism
The others obey their own lead, follow their own impulses. Don’t be distracted. Keep walking. Follow your own nature
take refuge in these two things: i. Nothing can happen to me that isn’t natural. ii. I can keep from doing anything that God and my own spirit don’t approve. No one can force me to
What am I doing with my soul? Interrogate yourself, to find out what inhabits your so-called mind and what kind of soul you have now. A child’s soul, an adolescent’s, a woman’s? A tyrant’s soul? The soul of a predator or its prey?
Things gravitate toward what they were intended for
It is crazy to want what is impossible. And impossible for the wicked not to do so
Things have no hold on the soul. They have no access to it, cannot move or direct it. It is moved and directed by itself alone. It takes the things before it and interprets them as it sees fit
If it does not harm the community, it does not harm its members. When you think you’ve been injured, apply this rule: If the community isn’t injured by it, neither am I. And if it is, anger is not the answer. Show the offender where he went wrong
So other people hurt me? That’s their problem. Their character and actions are not mine
The mind is the ruler of the soul. It should remain unstirred by agitations of the flesh gentle and violent ones alike. Not mingling with them, but fencing itself off and keeping those feelings in their place. When they make their way into your thoughts, through the sympathetic link between mind and body, don’t try to resist the sensation. The sensation is natural. But don’t let the mind start in with judgments, calling it “good” or “bad.”
Consider all that you’ve gone through, all that you’ve survived. And that the story of your life is done, your assignment complete. How many good things have you seen? How much pain and pleasure have you resisted? How many honors have you declined? How many unkind people have you been kind to?
Soon you’ll be ashes, or bones. A mere name, at most and even that is just a sound, an echo. The things we want in life are empty, stale, and trivial
be tolerant with others and strict with yourself
Not to be overwhelmed by what you imagine, but just do what you can and should
true good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions, and good actions
Look inward. Don’t let the true nature or value of anything elude you
The best revenge is not to be like that
Like seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig. Or that this noble vintage is grape juice, and the purple robes are sheep wool dyed with shellfish blood
Perceptions like that latching onto things and piercing through them, so we see what they really are. That’s what we need to do all the time all through our lives when things lay claim to our trust to lay them bare and see how pointless they are, to strip away the legend that encrusts them
What’s left for us to prize? I think it’s this: to do (and not do) what we were designed for
And if you can’t stop prizing a lot of other things? Then you’ll never be free, independent, imperturbable. Because you’ll always be envious and jealous, afraid that people might come and take it all away from you
Whereas to respect your own mind to prize it will leave you satisfied with your own self, well integrated into your community and in tune with the gods as well embracing what they allot you, and what they ordain
Not to assume it’s impossible because you find it hard. But to recognize that if it’s humanly possible, you can do it too
In the ring, our opponents can gouge us with their nails or butt us with their heads and leave a bruise, but we don’t denounce them for it or get upset with them or regard them from then on as violent types. We just keep an eye on them after that. Not out of hatred or suspicion. Just keeping a friendly distance. We need to do that in other areas. We need to excuse what our sparring partners do, and just keep our distance without suspicion or hatred
If anyone can refute me, show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance
do what is mine to do; the rest doesn’t disturb me
Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died and the same thing happened to both. They were absorbed alike into the life force of the world, or dissolved alike into atoms
Remember your responsibilities can be broken down into individual parts as well. Concentrate on those, and finish the job methodically without getting stirred up or meeting anger with anger
How cruel to forbid people to want what they think is good for them. And yet that’s just what you won’t let them do when you get angry at their misbehavior. They’re drawn toward what they think is good for them. But it’s not good for them. Then show them that. Prove it to them. Instead of losing your temper
Disgraceful: for the soul to give up when the body is still going strong
The only rewards of our existence here are an unstained character and unselfish acts
Nothing has meaning to my mind except its own actions. Which are within its own control. And it’s only the immediate ones that matter. Its past and future actions too are meaningless
for a human being to feel stress is normal if he’s living a normal human life. And if it’s normal, how can it be bad?
You take things you don’t control and define them as “good” or “bad.” And so of course when the “bad” things happen, or the “good” ones don’t, you blame the gods and feel hatred for the people responsible or those you decide to make responsible. Much of our bad behavior stems from trying to apply those criteria. If we limited “good” and “bad” to our own actions, we’d have no call to challenge God, or to treat other people as enemies
The only thing that isn’t worthless: to live this life out truthfully and rightly. And be patient with those who don’t
When you need encouragement, think of the qualities the people around you have: this one’s energy, that one’s modesty, another’s generosity, and so on. Nothing is as encouraging as when virtues are visibly embodied in the people around us, when we’re practically showered with them
Do your best to convince them. But act on your own, if justice requires it
you weren’t aiming to do the impossible. Aiming to do what, then? To try. And you succeeded. What you set out to do is accomplished
It doesn’t have to upset you. Things can’t shape our decisions by themselves
Forget the future. When and if it comes, you’ll have the same resources to draw on the same logos
The mind in itself has no needs, except for those it creates itself. Is undisturbed, except for its own disturbances. Knows no obstructions, except those from within
Frightened of change? But what can exist without it? What’s closer to nature’s heart? Can you take a hot bath and leave the firewood as it was? Eat food without transforming it? Can any vital process take place without something being changed?
To feel affection for people even when they make mistakes is uniquely human. You can do it, if you simply recognize: that they’re human too, that they act out of ignorance, against their will, and that you’ll both be dead before long. And, above all, that they haven’t really hurt you. They haven’t diminished your ability to choose
When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you understand that, you’ll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger. Your sense of good and evil may be the same as theirs, or near it, in which case you have to excuse them. Or your sense of good and evil may differ from theirs. In which case they’re misguided and deserve your compassion. Is that so hard?
Treat what you don’t have as nonexistent. Look at what you have, the things you value most, and think of how much you’d crave them if you didn’t have them. But be careful. Don’t feel such satisfaction that you start to overvalue them that it would upset you to lose them
Unendurable pain brings its own end with it. Chronic pain is always endurable: the intelligence maintains serenity by cutting itself off from the body, the mind remains undiminished
“And why should we feel anger at the world? As if the world would notice!”
Look at the past empire succeeding empire and from that, extrapolate the future: the same thing. No escape from the rhythm of events
Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly
when faced with a choice, remember: our business is with things that really matter
Perfection of character: to live your last day, every day, without frenzy, or sloth, or pretense
nothing is good except what leads to fairness, and self-control, and courage, and free will. And nothing bad except what does the opposite
The first step: Don’t be anxious. Nature controls it all. And before long you’ll be no one, nowhere like Hadrian, like Augustus. The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy
No time for reading. For controlling your arrogance, yes. For overcoming pain and pleasure, yes. For outgrowing ambition, yes. For not feeling anger at stupid and unpleasant people even for caring about them for that, yes
Don’t be overheard complaining about life at court. Not even to yourself
If it’s in your control, why do you do it? If it’s in someone else’s, then who are you blaming? Atoms? The gods? Stupid either way. Blame no one. Set people straight, if you can. If not, just repair the damage. And suppose you can’t do that either. Then where does blaming people get you? No pointless actions
Joy for humans lies in human actions. Human actions: kindness to others, contempt for the senses, the interrogation of appearances, observation of nature and of events in nature
All our decisions, urges, desires, aversions lie within. No evil can touch them
You have to assemble your life yourself action by action. And be satisfied if each one achieves its goal, as far as it can. No one can keep that from happening. But there are external obstacles... Not to behaving with justice, self-control, and good sense. Well, but perhaps to some more concrete action. But if you accept the obstacle and work with what you’re given, an alternative will present itself another piece of what you’re trying to assemble. Action by action
To accept it without arrogance, to let it go with indifference
a rational being can turn each setback into raw material and use it to achieve its goal
Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, “Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?” You’ll be embarrassed to answer
remind yourself that past and future have no power over you. Only the present and even that can be minimized. Just mark off its limits
External things are not the problem. It’s your assessment of them. Which you can erase right now. If the problem is something in your own character, who’s stopping you from setting your mind straight? And if it’s that you’re not doing something you think you should be, why not just do it? But there are insuperable obstacles. Then it’s not a problem. The cause of your inaction lies outside you
The mind without passions is a fortress. No place is more secure. Once we take refuge there we are safe forever
Nothing but what you get from first impressions. That someone has insulted you, for instance. That but not that it’s done you any harm. The fact that my son is sick that I can see. But “that he might die of it,” no. Stick with first impressions. Don’t extrapolate
The cucumber is bitter? Then throw it out. There are brambles in the path? Then go around them. That’s all you need to know. Nothing more. Don’t demand to know “why such things exist.”
No carelessness in your actions. No confusion in your words. No imprecision in your thoughts
People exist for one another. You can instruct or endure them
to fear pain is to fear something that’s bound to happen, the world being what it is and that again is blasphemy
Some things nature is indifferent to; if it privileged one over the other it would hardly have created both. And if we want to follow nature, to be of one mind with it, we need to share its indifference. To privilege pleasure over pain life over death, fame over anonymity is clearly blasphemous. Nature certainly doesn’t
Don’t look down on death, but welcome it. It too is one of the things required by nature. Like youth and old age. Like growth and maturity. Like a new set of teeth, a beard, the first gray hair. Like sex and pregnancy and childbirth. Like all the other physical changes at each stage of life, our dissolution is no different
So this is how a thoughtful person should await death: not with indifference, not with impatience, not with disdain, but simply viewing it as one of the things that happen to us
To do harm is to do yourself harm. To do an injustice is to do yourself an injustice it degrades you
Objective judgment, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance now, at this very moment of all external events. That’s all you need
Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions not outside
Think about your life: childhood, boyhood, youth, old age. Every transformation a kind of dying. Was that so terrible?
When you face someone’s insults, hatred, whatever ... look at his soul. Get inside him. Look at what sort of person he is. You’ll find you don’t need to strain to impress him
How many people don’t even know your name. How many will soon have forgotten it. How many offer you praise now and tomorrow, perhaps, contempt. That to be remembered is worthless. Like fame. Like everything
Indifference to external events. And a commitment to justice in your own acts
when others stray off course, you can always try to set them straight, because every wrongdoer is doing something wrong doing something the wrong
Yes, boorish people do boorish things. What’s strange or unheard-of about that? Isn’t it yourself you should reproach for not anticipating that they’d act this way?
when you call someone “untrustworthy” or “ungrateful,” turn the reproach on yourself. It was you who did wrong. By assuming that someone with those traits deserved your trust
be satisfied with what you have, and accept the present all of it
Everything that happens is either endurable or not. If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining. If it’s unendurable ... then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well
Just remember: you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so
Why all this guesswork? You can see what needs to be done. If you can see the road, follow it. Cheerfully, without turning back. If not, hold up and get the best advice you can. If anything gets in the way, forge on ahead, making good use of what you have on hand, sticking to what seems right
Nature gives and nature takes away. Anyone with sense and humility will tell her, “Give and take as you please,” not out of defiance, but out of obedience and goodwill
To stop talking about what the good man is like, and just be one
To feel grief, anger or fear is to try to escape from something decreed by the ruler of all things, now or in the past or in the future
To bear in mind constantly that all of this has happened before. And will happen again the same plot from beginning to end, the identical staging
When faced with people’s bad behavior, turn around and ask when you have acted like that. When you saw money as a good, or pleasure, or social position. Your anger will subside as soon as you recognize that they acted under compulsion
Given the material we’re made of, what’s the sanest thing that we can do or say? Whatever it may be, you can do or say it. Don’t pretend that anything’s stopping you
None of us have much time. And yet you act as if things were eternal the way you fear and long for them..
So too a healthy mind should be prepared for anything. The one that keeps saying, “Are my children all right?” or “Everyone must approve of me” is like eyes that can only stand pale colors, or teeth that can handle only mush
It doesn’t matter how good a life you’ve led. There’ll still be people standing around the bed who will welcome the sad event
Learn to ask of all actions, “Why are they doing that?” Starting with your own
with everything except virtue and what springs from it. Look at the individual parts and move from analysis to indifference
Have I done something for the common good? Then I share in the benefits
Both are deserters: the man who breaks and runs, and the one who lets himself be alienated from his fellow humans
Someone despises me. That’s their problem. Mine: not to do or say anything despicable
Someone hates me. Their problem. Mine: to be patient and cheerful with everyone, including them. Ready to show them their mistake. Not spitefully, or to show off my own self-control, but in an honest, upright way
As long as you do what’s proper to your nature, and accept what the world’s nature has in store as long as you work for others’ good, by any and all means what is there that can harm you?
That you don’t know for sure it is a mistake. A lot of things are means to some other end. You have to know an awful lot before you can judge other people’s actions with real understanding
When you lose your temper, or even feel irritated: that human life is very short. Before long all of us will be laid out side by side
it’s not what they do that bothers us: that’s a problem for their minds, not ours. It’s our own misperceptions. Discard them. Be willing to give up thinking of this as a catastrophe ... and your anger is gone
How much more damage anger and grief do than the things that cause them
There’s nothing manly about rage. It’s courtesy and kindness that define a human being and a man
No longer shocked by everyday events as if they were unheard-of aberrations. No longer at the mercy of this, or that
It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own
If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it
There’s nothing more insufferable than people who boast about their own humility
I would like to know how the stoics dealt with this? Everybody deals with discomfort. I know I should embrace it, but I dont know how. As soon as I have done half of my work, I feel like I have done enough, and go back to procrastinating. I would like to change that. How do I choose discomfort. How do stoics get things done, how do they embrace the discomfort and stop procrastinating?
I could really use some stoic guidance here.
In this post I will describe a bit of my history and a problem I am facing. I am hoping someone here could direct me to relevant stoic writing to my case. If you feel inclined to give advice, I will put thought into it, but it is not what I am looking for.
I have been a fan of stoicism before I even knew what it was. From a young age I have assigned value judgements in a very stoic way. I do mean in the classic stoic way, not the popular non-emotional belief. When I did learn about stoicism in a philosophy class of all things, it was amazing. It was like I was reading something that was written for me. I still have much I need to learn. For starters, I should read stoic writings.
The biggest obstacle in my life is myself. In stoic terms, I fight myself every step of the way towards virtue. When I pursue virtue I feel a great urgency to do something else. When I pursue pleasure I feel unsatisfied. This behavior is self destructive and stems from a dismissing value in myself. This lack of value is an emotion I have been unable to act indifferent towards. Impostor syndrome, as described on wikipedia, is a fairly close approximation of my behavior. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome
So far I have been utterly incapable of applying indifference to this problem. It controls me more than I control it. This lack of self-control is a problem for me.
Does anyone know of any relevant stoic writings?
My question mainly targets those practicing stoics with partners not so into any sort of philosophy, although I would love for anyone interested to comment.
For background info: I'm 25, heterosexual cis female. A practicing stoic (growing each day). I decided to stop pursuing any sort of notion of a partner and instead focus solely on my in-the-moment behavior (I'm a behavior analyst practicing behaviorism by profession, so this helps). Essentially, I am focusing on developing myself and being mindful of my behavior in the small steps I'm taking to further myself and my exciting career. I've stopped trying to control what I cannot (and, in terms of my romantic life, what I cannot control is finding and bringing a stoically-minded partner into my life). This outlook has been doing wonders for me. I practice giving love to all without assumptions or expectations of how they should act toward me in return, but my problem is that I tend to shun those who don't seem to want to help themselves, and by doing so I may be missing out on other things I can learn from them. So, I think I can learn a lot from those practicing stoics in functional relationships with those lacking any sort of philosophy upon which they live. Or really any other person this situation applies to. Any advice?
TL;DR: I want to get better at accepting others even when they remain trapped in their own destructive patterns or do not want to practice solutions to better help themselves. I fear that by removing people from my life simply because they don't want to help themselves, I may be missing out on the things I can learn from them.
EDIT: This actually can apply not just to romantic love, but also any other kind. For example, I don't want to immediately discard all that a friend may have to offer simply because she is bogged down by her own emotions. I suppose I should just focus on what I can learn from each interaction with her and not expect or assume anything from her?
This quote helps me whenever I am feeling suicidal and to realize it is my head that overestimates my problems.
Perhaps I am not that well informed. Are there any non-classical great stoics? If not philosophers, maybe individuals who have written good books or essays that are inherently stoic? If so, please give recommendations.
Is it bad of me to want minimal romantic partners so I can't be emotionally invested in like 10 people? I'd rather be focused on myself and my work instead of being constantly emotionally invested in other people who will eventually leave me.
I understand that I must accept the feeling of loss, but that doesn't mean I should go to every woman and date them.
In Donald Robertson's book 'Stoicism and the Art of Happiness' he talks about seeing the present moment in isolation, through the 'method of division'. How do you guys do that?
I feel like I'm getting closer to understanding Stoicism, but there is one thing that I'm still trying to wrap my head around.
The fact that there is an idea of a perfect "sage" that I will never reach. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and this underlying idea causes me anxiety. Do I just keep trying and have it never be good enough? In Christianity the answer is simple : You'll never be good enough, so just accept God's blood sacrifice for imperfection and keep trying. I don't believe this, but I understand why it is such a powerful idea to a lot of people and if you believe it, it must be immensely comforting.
For those who do not believe this is the solution to "falling short of the glory of God", what is the 'solution'? I can't help but feel that by even writing this that I'm just totally missing it? Could this acceptance be thought of as a virtue? That you're undertaking a goal that you'll never meet but that the actual undertaking becomes the goal in and of itself?
Anyone have any thoughts?
Marcus Aurelius wrote: "Choose not to be harmed -- and you won't feel harmed. Don't feel harmed -- and you haven't been."
This is an inspiring quote about our freedom of interpreting external events as good or bad, but I'm not personally convinced it is as powerful as some take it to be.
For example, let's say I'm addicted to video games. I might simply say to myself, "They are nothing to me, and worse, they are affecting my Stoic virtue" and never play them again. But this isn't realistic; there is still a psychological 'pull' over which I have no control, and I may find myself playing again even though I intellectually do not want to. No level of saying "these are nothing to me" will have an effect, because some part of us does not believe it despite what we try telling ourselves over and over.
The same goes for our external circumstances. I may say to myself intellectually, "It's okay I didn't get the job, it was out of my control, and therefore nothing to me." But human psychology is not so simple; there will still be a sting of rejection, no matter how irrational, and the sting may cause me to feel bad in spite of myself.
One could say this is an impression to which we can deny our assent, fine. But we still don't have control over how it affects us, even in spite of ourselves. We cannot simply tell ourselves "it is nothing" when it clearly is, in spite of our better judgment.
Just my two cents, the more I meditate on this quote.
Hello all, I am struggling to make a decision, or perhaps struggle to change my perspective/response on my current situation.
I am very new to stoicism, I stumbled upon the Enchiridion and found a lot of useful wisdom that I feel I can apply to my life, in order to improve myself.
I realize also that this question has been asked a few times (on making difficult decisions), however I still want to see what advice I may receive relevant to my situation, so bare with me.
I grew up in a country in Europe and migrated to another country (about 6 years ago) several kilometres away and different hemisphere. This decision was made mostly due to my mother believing I would have more opportunities there. In all honesty, there are more opportunities here where I am now, more options nonetheless. However, I feel isolated. I am lonely, I have no friends here, I have made friends during my time here, however never felt there was enough chemistry and for whatever reason these friendships didn't last. I really want to go back to my old home, where I know I have friends there, I can have a social life again and where I feel myself and I feel I belong. I am in my 20s, I suppose I feel I should be more socially included and active, in a sense. Unfortunately though there aren't many opportunities back home, not a lot of work.
My predicament is that I have this desire to move back home, no matter what happens. However, this might also be a passion(?) I'm not sure. I want to return, but I feel a great amount of guilt because my mother doesn't fully agree with this decision and in a way whether directly or indirectly, she creates doubt in me. She wants to ensure I am on my way to building a secure sort of future for myself, where I am independent and can look after myself (which I want also), but I think she believes that can happen only where I am now.
I do feel that I have an overwhelming connection to this place and these people (my old home), and unfortunately have made my mind up that is where I should be, in order to grow virtuously, in order to self improve, to be free.
The part about being free is something that resonated with me very much whilst reading the Enchiridion, 19. "...But, for your part, don't wish to be a general, or a senator, or a consul, but to be free; and the only way to this is a contempt of things not in our own control." - The way I interpret this, is that to be a good virtuous person and I suppose a good stoic, is to strive to be free, keeping in mind that you control what is natural to you and not pay attention to external things.
In a non-stoic way of thinking, I believe that if I can go back and at least try living there that then I will know whether I should be there or not.
I understand I seem biased, I seem to have a preferred option, but this has been on my mind for a very long time. I am currently seeing a counselor, to alleviate some of this stress and anxiety I have. Frankly, I'm miserable, alone and desperate for some insight.
What I truly want is to feel confident in myself. I wonder how to think about this in a stoic way.
Thanks to anyone who's read this.
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