The Path of Stoicism: Embracing Wisdom in the Modern World

Feranmi Olaseinde

Feranmi Olaseinde

Oct 02, 20234 min read

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The Path of Stoicism: Embracing Wisdom in the Modern World

Introduction:

In a world filled with uncertainty and constant changes, finding inner peace and contentment can be a challenging task. However, the ancient philosophy of Stoicism offers valuable insights and tools to navigate the complexities of modern life. By understanding the principles of Stoicism, we can learn to detach ourselves from external circumstances and find true happiness within. This article will explore the key teachings of Stoicism and provide actionable advice on how to incorporate them into our daily lives.

The Stoic Perspective on Control:

One of the greatest tools of Stoicism is knowledge. The more we understand something, the less likely we are to be consumed by fear or distress. Stoics believe that we have no control over external events, but we do have control over our own actions and reactions. For example, imagine you're at work, and your supervisor informs you that the espresso machine you rely on is being removed. Your free daily coffee is suddenly gone. While this may be devastating for most people, Stoics would approach this situation differently. They would acknowledge that the change is beyond their control and choose to accept it, rather than wallowing in misery.

The Trap of Materialism:

In our consumer-driven society, we often believe that material possessions will bring us happiness. We convince ourselves that the next purchase will finally fulfill us. Whether it's a new car, the latest smartphone, or an expensive watch, we expect these things to bring us joy. However, Stoics remind us that material things only provide temporary happiness. Our possessions will eventually break, become outdated, or lose their novelty. Moreover, hedonic adaptation sets in, and we start desiring something newer and shinier. To escape the trap of consumerism, Stoics suggest adopting a different attitude towards our purchases and the dopamine hit we get from them.

Practicing Voluntary Discomfort:

One practical way to shift our mindset is by practicing what Stoics call "voluntary discomfort." This involves subjecting ourselves to discomfort in something we typically enjoy. For instance, instead of taking a warm shower, take a cold one. Rather than constantly upgrading to the latest phone, hold on to your current one until it's no longer usable. By enduring the cracks and lags, we learn to detach ourselves from the allure of constant upgrades. Start small by leaving your phone behind when you go to the bathroom or taking a drive without the AC on a hot day. These small acts of voluntary discomfort help us break free from our materialistic desires and find contentment within ourselves.

The Stoic Lens on External Circumstances:

Stoicism teaches us that relying on external things for happiness leaves us at the mercy of a turbulent universe. The Stoic philosophers subscribed to a semi-deterministic worldview, acknowledging that everything that happens has a cause, but sometimes, we cannot control that cause. While we may not have control over external circumstances, we do have control over our own actions and reactions. By focusing on improving our inner selves, we become less dependent on external factors for our well-being.

Implementing Stoicism in Our Modern Lives:

Incorporating Stoic principles into our daily lives can lead to a greater sense of peace and fulfillment. Here are three actionable pieces of advice to help you on your path to becoming a Stoic in the modern world:

  • 1. Practice mindfulness: Take time each day to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and reactions to external events. By observing and understanding these patterns, you can gain control over your responses and choose more virtuous actions.
  • 2. Embrace impermanence: Recognize that everything in life is temporary, including material possessions, relationships, and even your own existence. By accepting the transient nature of things, you can appreciate the present moment and detach yourself from the anxieties of the future.
  • 3. Cultivate gratitude: Instead of constantly seeking more, learn to appreciate and be grateful for what you already have. Gratitude shifts your focus from what is lacking to what is abundant in your life, fostering a sense of contentment and fulfillment.

Conclusion:

In a world filled with external uncertainties, Stoicism provides a valuable roadmap to finding inner peace and contentment. By understanding that we have control over our own actions and reactions, rather than external circumstances, we can free ourselves from the trap of materialism and find lasting happiness within. Embracing the principles of Stoicism requires practice and a shift in mindset, but the rewards are immeasurable. Start small, be mindful, embrace impermanence, and cultivate gratitude. The path of the Stoic in the modern world is a journey worth embarking on.

Resource:

  1. "(50) Path of Stoicism: How to become a Stoic in the Modern World - YouTube", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSz_sCq82yM (Glasp)
  2. "TheCableIndex on Twitter", https://twitter.com/thecableindex/status/1677282956266598401 (Glasp)

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