Should You be a Stoic?
Science of Success
SHOULD YOU BE A STOIC?
“Our rational nature moves freely forward in its impressions when it:
- accepts nothing false or uncertain;
- directs its impulses only to acts for the common good;
- limits its desires and aversions only to what’s in its own power;
- embraces everything nature assigns it.”
-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.7
The writings of Marcus Aurelius in his personal journal, often titled “Meditations” or “Thoughts,” gives us insight into the mind of the philosopher king, often thought to be one of the most mindful and considered leaders in history.
When I first stumbled upon Stoicism, an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium, I discoverd a powerful tool which allowed me to set myself free from a prison constructed of my anxieties, fears, anger, and even hopes.
As a student of theology, introspection, & behavioral optimization, my mind whirred with the excitement of a child who has just realized that when they poke their little brother, they can influence his mood, thoughts, and behavior for the very first time. The power to influence, but not just any influence, the power to influence one’s self, one’s wants, that which drives our unconscious.
Stoicism taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the “divine Reason” (also identified with Fate, the gods/god, and/or Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune, pleasure, or pain.
HOPE & FEAR are the SAME MONSTER
“Hecato says, ‘Cease to hope & you will cease to fear.’. . . The primary cause of both these ills is that instead of adapting ourselves to present circumstances, we send out thoughts too far ahead.”
-SENECA, Moral Letters, 5.7b-8
We generally regard Hope as a good thing; often it is linked to “ambition,” and we consider it a necessary component for success. It is here, with the sword of ancient wisdom that we can rightly divide these concepts with a swift and mighty slice of the Stoic blade of reason. They are not in fact contingent upon one another and should not be assigned such roles.
Hope is to attach desire, whether to the outcome or the reward and inevitably the hopeful will be saddened or disappointed by the outcome if it does end up in failure. Ambition, on the other hand, is to acknowledge the ability of oneself and to ever strive for the pinnacle of that greatness without adopting the emotional attachment to the outcome of “success.”
In other words, by all means set a goal, by all means strive to be your best self, by all means work hard, but when fate strikes with an illness, misfortune, death, famine, chance, etc. pay it no emotional mind; you have already aligned yourself to the reality that this was coming your way whether you planned for it or not and therefore does not bring negative meaning to your ambitions, dreams, or actions.
CHANGE JUST is. EMBRACE it.
“No man steps into the same river twice.”
“Meditate often on the swiftness with which all that exists and is coming into being is swept by us and carried away. For substance is like a river’s unending flow, its activities continually changing and causes infinitely shifting so that almost nothing at all stands still.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.23
No man steps into the same river twice; how could this be so? If we consider this thought, the answer is blatantly obvious, if a man were to turn around and walk back through the river he just crossed, he has aged ever so slightly and therefore is not the exact same as he was when he crossed; and the river, it is rushing, is ever changing in intensity, molecular make-up, and with what materials are pulled along by its force. Therefore, he is not the same man, and it is not the same river.
Everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, is in a constant state of change, and so are we. To get upset by anything is to have wrongly assumed that whatever had aligned to make you content would last. To kick yourself for making this decision, or to blame another for theirs, is to attempt to grab the wind. If you are upset by a circumstance, you are resenting change and assuming that you had a choice in the matter.
Everything is change, embrace that fact, and you will flow in it and release yourself from a mountain of worry, anxiety, fear, & stress.
The STOIC MINDSET
Revisit often the 4 tenants of stoicism laid out by Marcus Aurelius to himself at the beginning of this article if you find yourself desiring to adopt the stoic mindset; here, I rewrite them in a modern-day version that is easier to apply:
- Accept ONLY that which has sound evidence, is proven, or is true.
- Work for the common good.
- Match your desires & needs to that which is in your control.
- Embrace what fate, “god,” nature, the universe, or chance has in store for you.
As a Tulsa based NLP Trainer, Business & Life Coach, and Hypnotist for Improving Lives Counseling Services, I have dedicated my life & thoughts to helping others just like you connect to the best version of themselves, if you have a desire to achieve more and make any area of your life more perfect, it might make sense to reach out today for a brief consult to determine whether or not this is in your power and worth our joint effort, and remember to “BE YOUR OWN HERO.”
JAMES PESCH WELCOMES YOU BACK!
KEYNOTE SPEAKER | BUSINESS COACH | CORPORATE TRAINER | SALES TRAINER | HUMAN PERSUASION EXPERT | LINGUIST | NEUROLINGUISTIC PROGRAMMER (NLP) EXPERT | HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT | TUTOR | LIFE COACH | DECEPTION DETECTION TRAINER | HR & PERSONNEL COMMUNICATION ANALYST | TULSA BUSINESS CONSULTANT | TULSA BUSINESS MASTERY EXPERT | TULSA’S MOST ENTERTAINING SPEAKER | EDUCATIONAL INSTRUCTOR | TULSA BUSINESS COACH | EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT | BODY LANGUAGE, POSTURE, & MICROEXPRESSION COACH
James is a Human Behavioral Specialist living in Tulsa, who is skilled in Linguistics, NLP, Mentalism, & Counseling, creating content so YOU WILL “Be your own HERO.” -James Pesch
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