Five Stoic Practices for a Better Life
Many Stoic practices involve exercises of thought and actions that lead to a perspective of reality characterized by moderation. In fact, this philosophical current doesn’t seek so much to reflect on existence, but rather to provide guidelines that allow us to achieve and maintain our well-being.
Stoicism represents a simple, intelligent life away from the power of instant gratification. The latter lures us to self-deception and is often a source of frustration. With this in mind, here are five Stoic practices for a better life.
Stoic practices for a better life
In today’s world, we’re extremely susceptible to ‘the songs of the sirens’. These are superfluous and transitory realities. They’ve become highly valued, while the most concrete and simple are now despised. However, many of us find ourselves suddenly rudely awakened when we look at reality in this way. But, how can this be avoided? Here are some Stoic practices to help you in this regard.
“Man is not worried by real problems so much as his imagined anxieties about real problems.”
1. Negative visualization
From a Stoic perspective, negative visualization is equivalent, to an extent, to reverse psychology. It involves making yourself aware of what you appreciate and then imagining what’d happen if you lost it. In particular, it means focusing on the misfortune you’d experience from not having the people, situations, or things around you that you value so much.
You should carry out this exercise on a regular basis. The objective is to consciously prepare yourself to face negative eventualities. You should also reconsider the transitory nature of existence and value the present. In effect, this strategy feeds a more realistic vision of life.
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2. Admit the fatalism of existence
Fatalism suggests it isn’t possible to avoid most vital events. This is because they’re subject to forces that are inaccessible to us. Stoicism adopts this view of the past. Stoics believe that what happened yesterday is impossible to change.
A work published in Estudios de Filosofía states that the Stoic perspective is directly linked with destiny. It claims that everything that’s destined to happen to an individual will happen, not just because of the causal mechanism of the individual, but of nature itself.
However, despite the fact that you know that the past is over and that there’s no going back, the remnants of yesterday often have a great influence on your present. The Stoic approach draws attention to the importance of accepting what’s happened and not fighting against it. This idea signifies the admittance of the fatalism of existence.
3. Choosing companions for the journey
The people who are close to you exert a great influence on who you are, what you think, what you feel, and what you do. However, this often goes unnoticed, because your close relationships are so familiar, you stop perceiving how they affect you.
One Stoic practice for a better life involves choosing well, whenever possible, the people with whom you share your life. For those you didn’t choose but still have to live with, face them calmly, try and find some mutual interests, and pay attention to them. That’s the path to tranquility and satisfaction.
4. Learn to react to explosive situations
One Stoic practice for a better life concerns your reaction to insults, anger, and pain. More generically, to ‘explosive situations’. They’re the kinds of circumstances that put your peace and well-being at risk, inciting an attack. What should you do in these situations?
According to the Stoics, your response to the offensive behavior of others must always be one of rationality and inertia. Focus on the content of the insult or the action carried out in anger. Is there any truth in the matter? If there isn’t, the best thing to do is to look compassionately at whoever’s attacking you, since they’re the one who’s confused. On the other hand, if there’s any truth in the matter, accept and reflect on the fact.
A post on the Oxford University Press blog defends the Stoic philosophy with regard to insults and anger. It claims that it’s useful to act in a pacifist way. In other words, not to reciprocate. Instead, you should pretend that nothing has happened. This, in addition to minimizing the damage, will deprive the insulter of any pleasure over their unpleasant actions and the upset they could’ve caused you.
5. Move away from luxuries
The main objective of the Stoics is to live well. They believe that to achieve this, we must only have just enough. In fact, they believe that moderation produces well-being, while excess, sooner or later, causes suffering. Luxuries are excesses. They’re expendable things that involve spending money or time.
As you can see, the above definition of this philosophy implies that luxuries take away, rather than add. Like the previous principles, this emphasizes one of the premises of Stoicism: a good life equals a balanced life. Indeed, its purpose is to achieve a balance in which any deficiency is overcome but excess is avoided.
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Stoic practices aren’t limiting, they propose acceptance and transformation
Stoic philosophy focuses on the training of virtue and rationality to understand and accept reality and transform the negative aspects that affect life. It doesn’t mean limitation. It means focusing on self-control and self-awareness to achieve fulfillment.
Among other effects, Stoic teachings can influence the way you react, make decisions, and solve all kinds of problems. Interestingly, the antiquity of these precepts doesn’t detract from their usefulness in today’s world. So, why not give their ideas a try?It might interest you...
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.
- Carvajal-Camacho, G. Y., & Chadid-García, D. F. (2020). La filosofía como forma de vida en Pierre Hadot, prácticas estoicas para el cultivo de sí [trabajo de grado, Universidad Católica de Oriente]. Repositorio Institucional UCO. https://repositorio.uco.edu.co/handle/20.500.13064/716
- Gómez Espíndola, L. L., (2012). Primeros desarrollos de la teoría estoica del destino. Estudios de Filosofía, (45), 59-80. https://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=379837148004
- Irvine, W. (2016). ¿Cómo habrían tratado los estoicos el discurso de odio? Prensa de la Universidad de Oxford. Consultado el 14 de abril de 2023. https://blog.oup.com/2016/10/stoic-philosophy-hate-speech/#:~:text=The%20Stoics%2C%20after%20devoting%20considerable,as%20if%20nothing%20had%20happened.