Stoicism teaches that there are four virtues- courage, justice, self-control and wisdom, which are the only things in life that you need to make you happy, explains Kai Whiting, researcher and lecturer in Stoicism and sustainability. “You need to be able to use your own sense of agency. According to Stoicism, the pursuit of these virtues is the only guarantee of a life worth living, as opposed to money, social status, power or even health.
The focus on behavior, accepting that nothing can be changed, apart from our reactions, and being satisfied with what we’ve got, is at the root of Stoicism. In Epictetus’s book of lectures, ‘The Discoursed,’ he says, “Divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.”
Rather than “gritting your teeth through something you think is bad or unpleasant,” says John Sellars, author of ‘Lessons in Stoicism,’ “the goal is to reach a point where one doesn’t even see these things as negative, but calmly welcomes whatever happens, however superficially unpleasant it might seem. It’s about taking on board some key principles and keeping them in mind all the time, so they shape how one acts at each moment.
That’s a big task, but it can help to provide a framework and series of values by which to live- what’s most important in life? What really has value? And what’s a mere distraction? How can I come with the inevitable ups and downs that live brings?
As Aurelius himself said, in ‘Meditations,’ “All things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle.”
why are we so lost?
inquiry for today~ what is the most important thing?
If there is overwhelm,
the energy isn’t ready.
The timing isn’t yet aligned.
Wait for the ease,
as it’s almost there.
Sharpen your senses,
and soften into trust.