How to Master Stoicism in 5 Practical Ways
What is Stoicism?
Stoicism is a mindset that gives you the ability to control your thoughts, emotions and behavior. It is a practical philosophy that you can practice on a daily basis to strengthen your mindset.
According to PhilosophyBasics.com, Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy which teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions.
Why Use it?
Stoicism provides you with freedom. Practicing this will grant you the freedom to act without allowing stress from the external world influence how you behave.
A true stoic is indifferent to good and bad and perceives things to be just the way they are. As a stoic, you don’t allow emotions to dictate how you act. Stoicism allows you to withhold personal judgement and can help rationalize the world around you.
Mastering this philosophy will allow you to control your thoughts and emotions. No longer will you allow feelings of fear, stress, or laziness prevent you from achieving your goals. This practice gives you the strength to keep powering through everyday mental challenges even in the face of adversity.
How to Practice Stoicism?
1. Think Before You Speak
Don’t emotionally react without thinking about your actions.
For example, if you’re in an argument with a loved one, a stoic would be able to maintain their composure and not emotionally react. In this situation, the stoic may be feeling uncomfortable emotions of stress or anger. However, instead of acting on emotions, the stoic will be able to use rational thought to keep a level head.
Stoicism allows you to experience things objectively rather than subjectively. This means you will be able to see things for the way they are instead of attaching a personal bias on the way you feel. By empowering yourself with objective thought, this will decrease the amount of influence your emotions have over you in making decisions.
2. Accept What You Cannot Change
Realize that you can’t control what other people do or the external events taking place around you.
In the ideology of stoicism, it is assumed that the only person that you can control is yourself. The way other people act are out of your control. Therefore, the more time you spend trying to control others to be how you want them to be, the less time you will spend on becoming the person you want to be.
The same goes for external influence. Things like the news, weather, social media, government, and co-workers are to an extent out of your control. Take the weather for example, if you’re spending time using your emotions to focus on wishing the weather was different, then you’re wasting time focusing on things that you can't change.
From a stoic’s perspective, you will learn how to accept the changes of the weather. You can do this by using rational thought processing to get yourself out of your subjective opinion about the weather. If you think of it objectively as just the way it is before forming a personal judgement, then you won’t have an emotion attached to the external influence.
3. Take Responsibility for Your Actions
The only person that you can control the actions of is your own self.
Don’t blame others for how you feel. No matter how much you believe that other people may have the ability to make you feel or think a certain way, more so than not, they can't. At the end of the day, you are the only one in control of the actions you take, no matter what emotions or thoughts you exhibit. Once you believe this, then you can come to the realization that only you are responsible for your actions. Unless you are being forced to do something with certain consequences, you have the freedom in most of your daily life to make personal choices.
Also, stoicism can be very helpful to use when there is conflict between you and another person. It may reach a point in the conflict that heightened emotions do not provide an appropriate environment to discuss concerns that you have. In this case, it may be effective to have the awareness of your emotions to stay stoic and not lash out on the other person. Perhaps no amount of rational thought is going to allow you to relieve interpersonal tensions. Instead of wasting energy and time trying to force the another person to listen and understand what you're saying, it may be best to just end the conversation politely, take responsibility, and walk away.
4. Stay Open to Ideas
The world is full of different ideas.
You may not agree with all of them, but they are still existing in the world. Your personal biases may make you think that there’s no value to some of these ideas, but if they are in existence then it’s probably safe to say that they provide some value for someone in the world. If this is true, then it might also be safe to say that there must be some reasons for these idea to still be in existence today!
Perhaps, before forming opinions about any idea, you should at least hear ideas out and try to understand their reasoning for existing in the first place. This may provide you with the ability to find objective insight and understand each idea from multiple perspectives before your own subjective opinions prevent you from being able to understand them.
Remember to listen to ideas before stating your opinions and placing judgment, try to meet new people, learn about cultures, and study various philosophical teachings to continue broadening your mindset.
5. Regulate Stress Levels
Stress happens to us all (If it doesn't happen to you, then you may be an alien).
Even the most stoic individuals are bound to have uncontrollable emotions that need to be managed. This is when techniques can be used to provide relaxation or give an outlet away from the daily stresses we, as humans, encounter.
Some examples of relaxation techniques that can provide stress relief include: yoga, meditation, massage therapy, deep breathing, exercise, and hiking outdoors.
There are many different ways to outlet your stress in healthy ways. These could include hobbies or activities that you are passionate about. An example of this may be learning a skill in music or art. Even though there are many different outlets to choose from, it may take you time and effort until you find one that is best suited for you. In this case, it would be important for you to use self-awareness to help you find a relaxation technique that is best suited for you.
Stoicism is an ongoing philosophical practice that is applied to daily life. It is a practice that requires you to be consistent, patient, and committed. It is not assumed that you will be immediately effective in stoicism. Only through enduring life's trials and tribulations, can you actively exercise and strengthen your stoicism practice. It may take months or even years until you to get to the point of mastering even 1 out of these 5 different techniques.
Stoicism is a philosophical teaching that you can constantly practice throughout your lifetime so that you can master your mindset to achieve goals and reach your fullest potential.
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