Stoicism, goals, and change

In the Oxford dictionary stoicism is defined as the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. Maybe this definition is what gives stoicism a bad reputation. In reality, stoicism is “more positive” than it sounds.

As a philosophy, stoicism emphasizes virtue, tolerance and self-control. It also teaches how to remain calm under pressure and avoid emotional extremes. The following video explains how these principle could help you navigate your emotions during difficult times. The main points of the video are listed below.

Main points on “The philosophy of Stoicism”:

  • Stoicism teaches virtue, tolerance, and self-control
  • Name derives from the place where Zeno and disciples met for discussions (Stoa Poikile)
  • Stoic = somebody who remains calm under pressure and avoids emotional extremes
  • More than an emotion is actually a philosophy:
    • Everything operates in a web of cause and effect. This gives the universe a rational structure called LEGOS.
    • We don’t have control over all events affecting us, we can control HOW we react to those events
    • Accept the world as it is, BUT pursue self-improvement through four cardinal virtues:
      • Wisdom: navigate complex situations in logical, informed, and calm manner
      • Temperance: exercise self-restrain and moderation in all aspects of life
      • Justice: treat everybody with fairness, even those who do wrong
      • Courage: face daily challenges with clarity and integrity
  • Personal improvement does not mean being self-centered or passive
  • People who have cultivated virtue and self-control can bring positive change to others
  • Examples, influence or parallelisms of stoicism can be seen in: Marcus Aurelius, Nelson Mandela, St. Thomas Aquinas, Buddhism, amongst others.
  • Philosopher Epictetus: suffering doesn’t come from events in our lives, but from our judgments about them.
  • In Psychology, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy focuses on changing people’s self-defeating attitudes
  • Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy, states that we can harness our will power to fill our lives with meaning.

This other video provides a very interesting perspective on how to apply stoicism as a college student: