Do You Have a Stoic Personality?
Far from being a fad, Stoicism is a philosophical perspective that’s permeated our culture for decades. Epictetus, the Greek philosopher of personal freedom, was an inspiration for the psychotherapist, Albert Ellis in the 50s. So much so that cognitive psychology is partly based on his ideas.
This philosophical school began in a rather interesting way. Zeno of Citium, a Phoenician merchant founded it in Athens at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. He did so as a result of a painful experience. He lost his entire fortune in a shipwreck at the age of 45. From then on, he devoted his existence to giving speeches in public squares on physics, logic, and thought.
According to him, no loss should matter as much to us as that of time, since this, and no other is the most irreparable dimension. He also believed in the importance of accepting reality as if it responds to a rational mandate. The kind which states everyone is obliged to understand in order to act accordingly.
Developing a Stoic approach could be helpful in today’s chaotic world, one in which it’s often difficult to adapt. Therefore, perhaps we should try and better understand the Stoics and imitate some of their characteristics.
“Thinking must be stronger than matter, and volition more powerful than physical or moral suffering.”
-Zeno of Citium-
The Stoic personality
We live in an increasingly complex society, where fragile relationships, social crises, and the constant burden of uncertainty abound. In this context, there are only two options, to accept or to continue fighting in the face of so many difficulties. The Stoic personality adopts the perspective that reason can allow us to overcome chaos.
Massimo Pigliucci is a well-known Italian biologist, philosopher, and writer known for spreading this kind of philosophy. In his 2018 book, How to be a Stoic, he claims that, although we can’t control what happens to us, we can work on how we respond to it. Indeed, factors such as anxiety, stress, and daily suffering could be better managed if we developed a more Stoic mindset.
Composure, acceptance, and resistance are the seeds that sustain and make this type of personality construct flourish. Let’s find out about them.
The Stoic personality is logical, practical and decisive. They don’t get caught up in emotions such as anguish. They try to accept their circumstances, but always try to make decisions that allow them to move in the desired direction.
1. Self-sufficiency and personal responsibility
Thinking for yourself and making decisions according to your needs, values, and principles. Could there be anything healthier? Self-sufficiency is the ability to guide yourself by your own judgment without any external conditioning.
You and only you are responsible for your own life. This requires not leaving your own future in the hands of others. This characteristic feeds on a healthy self-esteem. It threads everything together and gives impetus to the Stoic personality. The moment you trust yourself and your judgments, values, and decisions, your destiny takes another course.
2. Self-knowledge means knowing who you are and what you want
If you don’t know yourself, you allow yourself to be carried away by other people’s desires and by chaos. If you want to acquire a more Stoic frame of mind, promote your self-knowledge. Knowing what gives you meaning and what you expect from life and yourself offers you some pillars on which to stand, as well as a more motivating starting point.
The Stoics didn’t only work on the idea that they knew who they were. They also tried to become aware of their virtues and limitations. Therefore, knowing your light and dark sides will undoubtedly allow you to better navigate your journey through life.
3. Adaptability to change
Two of the most common ‘diseases’ of this century are stress and anxiety. Indeed, you tend to have a really hard time handling setbacks, dealing with uncertainty, and accepting changes, both big and small. However, the Stoic personality is extremely adept at managing these kinds of circumstances.
Researchers from the Birkbeck Affective and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, London (UK) claim that this philosophical school is really useful for individuals who are prone to excessive worry. One of its virtues is to teach us that, as human beings, we must know how to adapt to the twists of fate and the unforeseen.
Any variation in your routine has a tendency to disturb you and threaten to remove you from your comfort zone. But your strength lies in your ability to adapt. Once you achieve this, it’s easier to move where you want.
Although Stoicism is a philosophical school that originated in the 3rd century B.C., its perspectives are extremely helpful in the face of today’s challenges.
4. Focus on resolution and not stagnation
You have the ability to improve your problem-solving ability. The first step is to lower your volume of fear, panic, and catastrophic thinking. The Stoic personality is more rational than emotional. In fact, they look at the world from a standpoint of balance and acceptance. They’re also constantly searching for solutions.
Those who remain trapped by disabling emotions, such as anguish and denial, don’t move forward, they get stuck. The Stoic personality is logical, practical, and decisive.
5. A resilient mind with a broad focus
No one can completely avoid adversity and no one is immune to it. For the sake of your own psychological health and personal growth, you should develop a more resilient approach. The heart of a Stoic accepts and understands the arrival of fatality and the kind of suffering that obscures everything.
However, far from being stranded in the discomfort of this tunnel of darkness, they advance through it, knowing that destiny can’t be controlled. So, take a leaf out of their book and adopt a broader and more perspective mental perspective.
Sometimes, when you experience misfortune, you only look at minor details, obstacles, and damaging effects. On the other hand, the Stoic personality seeks to see the bigger picture and look beyond the ups and downs of life. When they look up, they find new meanings and greater hope.
6. Serenity, the best lifestyle
In the face of daily disagreements, you should adopt a serene perspective. When faced with the challenges, uncertainties, and problems of everyday life, be calm. Understandably, it can be difficult to develop this balanced, calm, and luminous attitude. However, it’s an ideal strategy for calming your fears and anxieties and experiencing a better quality of life.
Men and women with Stoic qualities seek to be in harmony with nature and with themselves. They try to cultivate their virtues, learn, and be disciplined so that reason is always the best response to any challenge.
A useful approach that’s stood the test of time
During the last few decades, Stoicism has become really popular. But, this philosophical school has always been present in our culture and in more than one psychological perspective. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that some of its principles can be really useful to us today.
For a Stoic, happiness is nothing more than the subtle combination of two great ingredients: virtue and ataxia (tranquility). Why not start working on these qualities today?
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Brown, M.E.L., MacLellan, A., Laughey, W. et al. Can stoic training develop medical student empathy and resilience? A mixed-methods study. BMC Med Educ 22, 340 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-022-03391-x
- Pigliucci, Massimo (2018) Cómo ser un estoico. ARIEL
- Maclellan, Alexander and Derakhshan, Nazanin (2021) The effects of Stoic training and Adaptive Cognitive Training on emotional vulnerability in high worriers. Cognitive Therapy and Research 45 , pp. 730-744. ISSN 0147-5916.