Stoicism is basically inner engineering, choosing our response and judgement towards external events that are not in our control.
It is the basis of modern psychological therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT) and goes deep into how we behave towards unexpected and unforeseen blows of life.
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The Stoic practice of catastrophizing, that is manoeuvring the potential dangers and troubles we will experience during the day or the mean and rude people we will encounter, loads our brain with a kind of anti-anxiety potion, that helps us face the day with ease.
We prepare our worrying mind to face the day's problems and are mentally prepared to handle the unexpected.
One of the fathers of the Stoicism philosophy, the Roman Statesman Seneca, suggested a Stoic technique called Premeditation.
The exercise involves imagining the worst-case scenario of your situation, like your partner leaving you, you catching a virus and dying, or your getting fired, or your house getting burned down. The next step is to rehearse how we will react to these misfortunes.
Casting oneself in dark, miserable, even desperate conditions and then seeing how we can endure them, creates an emotional protection shield around us.
Stoicism is made up of conflicting writings, especially around God, determinism vs free will, happiness vs avoidance of pain etc. Today most Stoic fans are practicing a cafeteria approach: picking up the few useful bits, modifying others, discarding the rest.
But it’s important to know that this is what we’re doing. Because to the extent that we’re taking this approach, we’re not practicing Stoicism. We are abandoning it and relying implicitly on different (and often unidentified) philosophic ideas.
Stoicism asserts that we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.
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 in front of you when you live your life.
When you wake up, pretend today is your last day and live life as you would in this circumstance. And don’t just think, do.
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