Starting Stoicism
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Are you new to Stoicism and want to know where to get started in learning about it and how to apply it in your life? Then this episode is for you.  One of the things that I appreciate about Stoicism is that it’s very practical philosophy, and there are a lot of ideas and principles that have stood the test of time because they work in helping you live a good life. There are also misconceptions about what stoicism is and what it isn’t so today I’m going to walk you through the basics of what stoicism is, and how you can start applying it in your life immediately. “The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” — Marcus Aurelius Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that originated in Athens, Greece, then moved into Rome as it gained popularity. It was founded by Zeno of Citium, a merchant who found himself in Athens after surviving a shipwreck. While trying to figure out what to do next, he frequented a bookseller in Athens. He came across the writings of Xenophone, a Greek historian and military strategist, and in them read about Socrates. He was so inspired be what he read, that he asked the bookseller where he could find someone like Socrates to teach him philosophy. At that moment, Crates of Thebes, a Cynic philosopher, just happened to be passing the shop. The bookseller pointed to Crates and told Zeno that Crates was such a man, and Zeno became his student. As Zeno began to learn more about Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the other philosophies, he began to develop his own ideas about how to apply philosophy and live a good life. One of the main points about Stoicism is that it’s primary goal is not to answer the big questions about life such as why we exist and where we go when we die, but rather how to have a good and peaceful life by living a life of virtue. It’s a practical philosophy that can be applied in all aspect of life. Control “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius One of the first and most important teachings of Stoicism is that we need to understand what we have control over and what we do not have control over. The reason why this is so important is that most of our stress and frustration in life comes from trying to control things that we do not have any control over. When we focus on the things we can control, we’re able to make progress, and gain a sense of peace in our lives. When we try to control what we can’t, we waste a lot of time and energy without making much progress. We can find ourselves getting angry, upset, or depressed because we’re trying to control something we can’t control, or often because we’re trying to control someone else or their behavior. On the flip side, when we don’t take control of the things that we do have control over, then we allow ourselves to become victims, and miss opportunities to create real change in our lives.  So that begs the question: What do we actually have control over? The Stoics teach us that the only thing we really have control over is our thinking, and our choices. In short, our will. Everything else is outside of our control. We don’t have control over nature, other people, or even our own bodies.  For example, you can’t control the weather, what other people think of you, or if you get cancer. They are are just things that happen, and not things you have any control over. What you do have control over is how you respond to the things that happen. You can choose to wear a raincoat when it rains. You can choose not to let what others think about you bother you. You can follow your doctors instructions in treating an illness. All you have control over are the choices you make about how you want to respond.Suggested Episode: Two Sides of the Same Coin Judgments “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
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