Stoicism for Modern Life: How to Live a Good Life in Uncertain Times
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the challenges and uncertainties of modern life? Do you wish you could be more calm, confident, and happy?
If so, you might benefit from learning about Stoicism.
Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy that teaches us how to live a good life in the face of adversity. It is a philosophy that is based on the belief that we can control our own thoughts and emotions, but that we cannot control the world around us.
Stoicism is not about being emotionless or indifferent. It is about being rational, resilient, and virtuous. It is about finding peace and joy in what we have, rather than what we don’t have.
Stoicism is also very practical and relevant for our modern times. Its principles can help us to cope with stress, improve our relationships, and achieve our goals.
The Key Principles of Stoicism
Stoicism is a rich and complex philosophy, but it can be summarised by four main principles:
- Focus on what you can control. This is the core idea of Stoicism. We can control our own thoughts and emotions, but we cannot control the world around us. Therefore, we should try to focus more on the things that we can control and let go of the things that we can’t control.
- Accept what you cannot change. Another important Stoic principle is to accept the things that we cannot change. This doesn’t mean that we have to like or agree with these things, but it does mean that we should try to accept them as they are and move on.
- Live in the present moment. The past is gone and the future is not yet here. The only moment that we have is the present moment. Therefore, we should focus on living in the present moment to the fullest.
- Be grateful for what you have. It is easy to focus on the things that we don’t have or want. But it is important to be grateful for the things that we do have or have achieved. This will help us to appreciate our lives and to be happier.
How to Apply Stoicism for Modern Life
There are many ways to apply Stoic principles to your life. Here are a few examples:
- When you are faced with a difficult situation, ask yourself: What can I control in this situation? What can I not control? Focus on the things that you can control and let go of the things that you cannot control.
- When you are feeling negative emotions, ask yourself: Are my thoughts and emotions helpful or unhelpful? If they are unhelpful, try to kindly challenge them. What could be another possible explanation? Is there another perspective that you could adopt? When you catch yourself in unhelpful thinking patterns, try to replace them with more helpful thoughts and emotions. Eventually thinking more positively will become your default.
- Take some time each day to reflect on the things that you are grateful for.
Here are some specific examples of how to apply Stoicism for modern life:
- At work: If you are stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work, don’t get angry or upset. You cannot control the traffic. Instead, focus on what you can control, such as listening to your favourite podcast or making a to-do list for the day.
- In relationships: If your partner does something that you don’t like, don’t get into an argument. You cannot control your partner’s behaviour. Instead, focus on what you can control, such as calmly communicating your feelings and needs.
- In personal development: If you are trying to lose weight, don’t get discouraged if you have a setback. Everyone has setbacks. Instead, accept that you cannot change the past, but you can focus on what you do next, such as eating healthy foods and exercising regularly.
Stoicism is a powerful philosophy that can help us to live more resilient and fulfilling lives. By applying Stoic principles to our lives, we can learn to accept what we cannot change, focus on what we can control, live in the present moment, and be grateful for what we have.
If you are interested in learning more about Stoicism, I recommend reading the book ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. It is a classic Stoic text that is full of wisdom and practical advice, and ‘The Daily Stoic’ by Ryan Holiday is a great resource for snippets of stoicism (Ryan also has a mailing list you can sign up to for a daily stoic thoughts and quotes, I’d really recommend checking it out on his website).
See you soon! Stephen