The Helpful Teachings of the Stoic Thinkers

Stoic thinkers offer us a new way of seeing life based on acceptance, virtue, and connection with ourselves.
The Helpful Teachings of the Stoic Thinkers

Last update: 15 February, 2022

You may think that the teachings of the Stoic thinkers and, in general, their philosophy of life are far removed from our reality today. However, if you stopped to analyze their proposals and basic principles, you’d see that they’d be easily applicable in your own day-to-day life. Furthermore, if you did apply them, you’d undoubtedly have a simpler, more peaceful, and pleasant existence.

Stoicism affirms that all the laws of the universe, with their acts and consequences, are already determined. Therefore, man can only achieve freedom through the acceptance of his own destiny. Stoics also claim that goodness and virtue are only accessible through reason, and are far removed from passions and excesses.

Marcus Aurelisu, one of the Stoic thinkers.

Teachings of Stoic Thinkers

1. You’re not affected by events, but by your perception of them

Without realizing it, you might be living pessimistically. Particularly if you tend to feel easily offended and believe that you’re a victim of circumstance. However, you always have the option of choosing in which way you look at a situation. Furthermore, your state of mind will depend on this decision.

It’s not what happens that affects you, but how you look at what happens. Nobody inflicts anything on you, you do it to yourself by choosing the wrong perspective. For instance, if someone cancels a date with you at the last minute, you can choose to feel offended, disrespected, and start an argument. On the other hand, you can accept reality and take any measures you consider to be appropriate, but not allow your inner state to be affected. After all, your peace of mind is your own business.

2. Happiness is achieved through virtue

Society today is fast-paced, competitive, and hyper-consumeristic. For this reason, you’ve probably come to think that happiness is found in social approval, material success, or status. Nevertheless, according to the teachings of the Stoics, happiness is achieved simply by doing the right thing, by what your conscience tells you to do.

No doubt you’ve experienced the satisfaction of cheering up a friend when they’ve been down, helping a stranger find their way, or offering a penniless person money or food. It’s these kinds of actions that make you feel fulfilled.

3. You must listen to your inner self, according to the teachings of the Stoics

Being in touch with your own emotions and needs is essential for your well-being. That’s why the Stoics wrote down in a diary how they felt at the end of each day. In this way, they came to know themselves more deeply and to recognize what they really felt, believed, and longed for.

Through this simple practice, you can process and externalize everything that disturbs you or isn’t to your liking. You’ll also be able to act in accordance with your thoughts and emotions, recognizing that you can’t always please everyone.

4. Habit makes you more efficient

As a human being, you tend to be, in general, absent-minded and somewhat lazy. That’s why it’s important that you establish habits to help you to have a more balanced life. For instance, diet, exercise, reading, meditation… All of these are activities that you know are both beneficial and desirable. However, when it comes to putting them into practice, you always find excuses and shortcuts that make you postpone them and not persevere.

Establishing a habit is the best way to automate those behaviors that you want to implement as part of your life. It’s the fastest path to efficiency and consistency.

A statue of Seneca.

5. Every effort will be rewarded

You might find it hard to put off immediate gratification and prioritize long-term consequences. That’s why we smoke, drink alcohol, eat badly, or stay in harmful relationships. However, the teachings of the Stoics claim that every effort will be rewarded.

When you propose something and you’re keen to fulfill it, at the beginning it may be hard and demotivating. Nevertheless, in the long run, you’ll undoubtedly experience the valuable benefits of your sacrifice.

Behind these simple precepts lies great wisdom. In fact, they act as a guide to achieve the kind of peace and happiness that’s often so elusive. Stoicism is a change of perspective and priorities. Indeed, although it may seem to be a rather utopian concept at first, you’ll soon see the effectiveness of putting its ideas into practice.

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  • Bera, E. G. (Ed.). (2002). Pensamiento estoico. Barcelona: Edhasa.
  • Alvarez, C. P. (2000). La filosofía y el sabio Estoico: Examen de la virtud. Horizontes educacionales, (5), 27-35.