How Stoicism Make You Happier
Would you believe that humans have been around for 300,000 years? In other words, our brain (software) is also as old as 300,000 years! Although the brain is as old as humans, it has gone through a lot of updates and changes over the years. Today, we will talk about an important update for the mind called Stoicism.
Whether you believe it or not, but stoicism is a very important concept if you want to stay happy in life! In fact, you can think of it as a mental reset that can help you stay happy no matter what happens!
Today, we will look at how to prepare our minds to stay happy and satisfied no matter what happens (good or bad). We will also explore the topics of finding inner peace and how not to get distributed by different events. But more importantly, we will talk about stoicism and how it can help you to develop mental fortitude.
A wealthy merchant boards a boat in Phoenicia, which was bound for the Greek port city of Peres. The merchant filled his boat with purple dye, which was a very expensive and wealthy commodity back in the day.
As the boat was setting out, little did they know that the boat was heading straight towards the eye of a storm! Before setting sail, the merchant went to visit the oracle, and he asked him one question… What can I do to attain the best life?
The question had been asked many, many times before… But the oracle’s response was something very simple and strange. She told the merchant to study the dead and find his answer!
As the merchant went out to the sea, a strong storm welcomed him. The waves started picking up, the rain started lashing down, and the wind started to flail the merchant.
In the end, he went into fate’s grip, and the boat was shipwrecked. Although fate had gripped the merchant, it wasn’t done with him yet. The merchant shipwrecked near Athens, but luckily, the merchant survived. He found someone to get his boat repaired, and in the meantime, he entered a nearby bookshop.
Learning from the Dead
Once inside the bookshop, the man remembered the words of the oracle to LEARN FROM THE DEAD!
So as he was going through different books at the bookshop, he pulled out a book from Socrates, who was long dead. As he was flicking through the pages, he asked the bookkeeper… Do you know anyone who speaks of this man’s “Socrates,”…? Do you know anyone similar?
And just as the merchant had uttered these words to the bookkeeper, a man walked into the bookshop. The bookkeeper straight away pointed to the man and said to the merchant: follow that man.
He is what you were looking for! So the merchant did follow that man, and years later, the merchant found Stoicism.
This merchant was “Zeno of Citium,” and he was the founder of stoicism which tells us that the goal of life is to live in agreement with nature.
Chapter 2: Working With Nature
The core fundamentals are that there are things that you want, and there are things that nature or the universe wants.
For example, you may want to win the lottery, but nature doesn’t have to make that happen. But when you realize that the world is a lot bigger than just a singular human on the planet, you learn to recognize that you can’t control everything, and that can bring us a ton of peace.
Let’s look at another example:
So you’re walking down the street, you smile at a man, and he smiles back. You’re then walking down the street again, and another man walks past you. Once again, you smile at him, but he ignores you.
Then, a third man walks, you smile at him, and he slaps you. This makes you angry, and you slap him back!
This example tells us that Stoicism is about recognizing what you can control and what you can’t! You can control whether you smile at the world, but you can’t control whether the world smiles back!
Remember Your Own Will!
Remember that living in accordance with nature doesn’t mean just living in accordance with the world’s will. What it really means is to follow your own will, both as an individual and as a human being in general.
For example, you may have a unique talent for making art. If that’s the case, then you should make art and not resist it all!
As human beings, we are naturally social beings that want to do good for others. So living in accordance with nature also involves doing good for others.
But how do we actually apply this? There is no action, there is no prescription, and no one can give you a set of actions for you to take… It’s just about internalizing the lesson and internalizing the importance of living in accordance with nature.
It is all about recognizing we can’t control many different things. For example, no one is telling you to smile when somebody slaps you as you walk down the streets. If you do that, it appears fake and untrue!
Instead, you should internalize the core message, and the actions you should take will come from that deepened understanding.
The Sea & the Storm (Another Story)
There’s a story of a different ancient stoic on a ship in Greece. This ship also encounters a storm, and the stoic on board starts panicking. His friend says to him, why are you panicking? Aren’t you a stoic?
The stoic said there is a storm out there which has increased my heart rate. I cannot control my heart rate & I also can’t control my body reacting to fear of this imminent danger. But what I can control is my experience after and whether or not I learn from this experience.
So the core understanding is to remember you can’t control the effects of the universe. But what you can control is your reaction to these different events and effects.
So the core idea of stoicism is that you can’t control the effects, only your causes!
Once you learn that, it can bring you a ridiculous amount of serenity, calm, and peace of mind. It will also liberate you from stressing and trying to manipulate things that you can’t control.
Controlling Your Fears
We can use all of this to describe why we feel so much fear as we go about our day-to-day life. We have a fear of consequences, outcomes, results of our actions, and so on.
For example, let’s say you are walking down the street in the middle of the road, and you’re afraid of a car coming to hit you. Another example is that you are up late at night and writing an essay… You will have a fear that the audience isn’t going to respond to the script.
Both of these examples tell us that it is always the consequence of our actions where the fear lies. And this fear of the consequence increases the likelihood of that consequence happening!
If I am writing an essay and not worried about how the audience will resonate (positive or negative), I will be able to think clearly. But If I am already worried from the start, it will lead to bad decisions and clouded thinking. In the end, it will greatly increase the likelihood of that negative consequence!
So the stoic views his life as if he’s on a play – He is running around pressing all these different buttons… He is putting out different causes into the world, and he’s unattached to whatever the effects are!
And he will look at the effects he’s getting… If it’s a good effect, he looks back to the cause and thinks: what cause did I put out into the world to cause this effect?
Chapter 3: Overcoming the Fear of Tiger
It is time for another story… So the stoic is walking down the street, and all of a sudden, he sees a tiger walk out in front of him! Immediately, the stoic’s body filled with fear, but he said: “This is normal…”
Realizing how his body is filled with fear, he starts to smile, understanding how all of this works. The tiger looks up and smiles back at the stoic!
I could sit here and talk to you about hundreds of different principles of stoicism… In fact, I could even mention quotes that changed my life, exercises for you to do, guided meditations, and all of these different things.
But if you truly understand this concept, it’s going to bring you more value than giving you ten things that you’re not going to actually implement!
If you want to dive deeper into this topic, then I suggest you check out the Overcoming Limiting Beliefs course! This is a complete system that teaches you how to overcome any negative or limiting belief.
The first step is to identify what you’re afraid of; the second step is to figure out what is the consequence that you’re afraid of!
The third step is to try and identify past experiences that you’ve had, which are always limited that have resulted in you having this perception of what’s gonna happen in the future.
The fourth step is to write out the things that you can control and start only focusing on those things and do them to the best of your ability.