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Stoicism in a time of crisis: how Marcus Aurelius can help

Fear

A common slogan of stoicism is that fear does us more harm than the things of which we’re afraid.

Even if you have a 99% chance of surviving a global crisis, worry and anxiety may be ruining your life. Fear surrounding you moves into the core of your being and can destroy you if you let it.

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Stoicism in a time of crisis: how Marcus Aurelius can help

Stoicism in a time of crisis: how Marcus Aurelius can help

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/25/stoicism-in-a-time-of-pandemic-coronavirus-marcus-aurelius-the-meditations

theguardian.com

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Key Ideas

The Meditations

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the last famous Stoic philosopher of antiquity. He faced one of the worst plagues in European history.

During the Antonine Plague, he wrote a book, known as The Meditations, which can be viewed as a manual for developing the mental resilience skills required to cope with a difficult situation.

The dichotomy of control

Because Stoics believe that true good resides in a person's character and actions, they would focus on what they can control, not what they can't.

What happens to you is never directly under your control, but your thoughts and actions are. Hence, It's not events that upset you but instead your opinion about the events.

The cause of our distress

Our judgment that something is really bad or even catastrophic causes our distress.

It's not the new virus that makes us afraid but rather our opinions about it.

Fear

A common slogan of stoicism is that fear does us more harm than the things of which we’re afraid.

Even if you have a 99% chance of surviving a global crisis, worry and anxiety may be ruining your life. Fear surrounding you moves into the core of your being and can destroy you if you let it.

Confront the risk

During hard times, you may have to look at the possibility of your own death. But avoiding to look at this is the most popular strategy nowadays.

The Stoics believed when you're confronted with your own mortality and understand its implications, you can change your perspective on life dramatically. We should accept both sickness and death as part of the common lot of humanity.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

“Our actions may be impeded…but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to ou..."

Stoicism explained
  • In any and every situation—no matter how bad or seemingly undesirable it is—we have the opportunity to practice a virtue.
  • Stoics like to refer to the phrase amor fati–loving the things that happen to us. 
Cultivate Stoicism in your life

Stoic philosophy can be cultivated as a practical philosophy:

  • Seeing the good in everything that happens around us, not feeling hijacked or negatively affected by fate and life events.
  • Treating life as an experiment, not being overly attached to things, people and decisions.

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Stoicism: the art of staying calm

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy that was founded by Zeno of Citium, in Athens, in the early 3rd century BC.
It is an ancient tool for remaining calm in adversity, a philosophical ...

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”

“Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

“Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

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Stoicism asserts that we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.

At the very root of Stoicism there is a very simple, though not easy, way of living: Take obstacles in your life and turn them into your advantage, control what you can and accept what yo...

At the very root of Stoicism there is a very simple, though not easy, way of living: Take obstacles in your life and turn them into your advantage, control what you can and accept what you can’t.

“In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where wil...

“In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.”  -  Epictetus:

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Live Every Day as If It Were Your Last

Death doesn’t make life pointless, death makes life worth living. Sometimes the discussion about the meaning of life serves no purpose besides distracting you from the answer, which is found...

Food as a Test Of Self-Control

Although eating food is pleasurable, digesting it is our main purpose. We should eat to live rather than live to eat.

To practice this principle, one can eat plain foods without sauces or try intermittent fasting.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

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Time Is The Most Precious Resource

Time is the most precious resource. Death gives a sense of urgency, as any moment could be your last. It humbles you and should also deeply motivate you to not spend your time thoughtlessly.

Emotions Come From Within

Outside forces don’t make us feel things, our perceptions of them do. It’s easy to think otherwise, but doing so harms us and undermines our self-discipline.

The next time you run into an obstacle and feel resistance, don’t look at what’s around you. Instead, look within.

The People You Respect

Whatever you do, there are individuals that you can learn from. If you can’t talk to them, you can study their story, works, techniques, successes, and failures, and discover patterns of success you can apply to your life.

Be careful not to turn it into an exercise of comparison and expect your progress to be the same as theirs. Their teachings and principles are supposed to help you grow, learn, and create. 

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Stoic Philosophy

Stoicism acknowledges the challenges we face and teaches us practical lessons so that we may overcome whatever stands in our way. By taking a practical approach to happiness, we learn how to mainta...

Epictetus
Epictetus

Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well.

Suffering and Desire

Buddha taught that there is suffering in this world, it is inevitable, and the root cause of suffering is mainly the desires we feel.

We want something, always, and feel miserable when we don't get it.

Stoicism teaches us to live in accordance with nature and to accept that suffering will manifest in different ways in our lives.

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“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.”

Epictetus
Misery And The Mind

Misery can be influenced by your circumstances, but it is largely indifferent to them because it grows from within. Most of us have everything that we need to avoid it, but our untrained brains are prone to create it through anxiety.

This concept is easy to understand but it requires consistent effort and application. Keeping your brain in check demands that you understand and internalize it into day to day conduct.

Diversify Your Sources Of Joy

We only have so much time and energy, so it’s good to eliminate the meaningless things we do. And then spread your remaining time and energy across multiple sources.

Balance work with other hobbies or personal projects, increase the number of people you can rely on, etc. Over a long enough time, something will go wrong, and having multiple sources of fulfillment to rely on will save you from complete collapse.

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Stoicism

Stoicism, a 3rd-century philosophy from Athens and later Rome,  is a pragmatic, realistic and practical way of addressing life's problems.

Whether we are overworked, stressed, or struggl...

Stoicism in Today's World

The central message of Stoicism is that we do not control life and our situations, but we control how we respond to those circumstances.

The thinking of the Stoics related to anger management, the endurance of hardships, fear of death, and handling of success or failure, is extremely relevant in today's world.

Resurgence Of Stoicism

Though earlier people misread stoicism as a philosophy based on austerity and lack of emotion, now there is a resurgence in the real thinking of stoicism, which was overlooked all these years.

Stoicism is finding resonance in today's complex world, and its philosophies seem to be understood in the intended sense.

Stoicism and life's adversities
Stoicism and life's adversities

Stoicism is generally understood to be detached and non-reactive towards any of life’s adversities.

In the words of the philosopher William Irvine, the ultimate goal of Sto...

Negative visualization

It is a stoic practice in which one deliberately imagines how things could be really bad, much worse than they are now. It is a visualization of one’s biggest fears. It is a kind of psychological trick that lowers your expectations and makes reality look better.

According to the Roman philosopher Seneca, apart from embracing the negative emotions, one needs to maximize the positive outlook and learn how to feel real joy.

Seneca
Seneca

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient,for he that is so wants nothing."

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