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However, they also believed that it is hard to develop a viable ethics without two other components: understanding how the world works, and appreciating the power and limits of human reasoning.
So the Stoics attempt a balance between the predetermined world created by God and the flexibility man can create through his individual personality. They will significantly influence Christianity.
We don’t always get what is rightfully ours, even if we’ve earned it. Not everything is as clean and straightforward as we think they may be. Psychologically, we must prepare ourselves for this to happen. It is one of the most powerful exercise in the Stoics’ toolkit to build resilience and strength.
If everything is ephemeral, what does matter? Right now matters. Being a good person and doing the right thing right now, that’s what matters and that’s what was important to the Stoics.
Alexander ruled the world but after a party got drunk and killed his best friend. Is this the mark of a successful life? From a personal standpoint, it matters little if your name is emblazoned on a map if you lose perspective and hurt those around you.
Learn from Alexander’s mistake. Be humble and honest and aware. That is something you can have every single day of your life. You’ll never have to fear someone taking it from you or, worse still, it taking over you.
“Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.”
To the Stoic, everything is opportunity. Including obstacles.
There is no good or bad to the practicing Stoic. There is only perception. You control perception. You can choose to extrapolate past your first impression (‘X happened.’ –> ‘X happened and now my life is over.’). If you tie your first response to dispassion, you’ll find that everything is simply an opportunity.
“It is in times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself for difficult times; ”
Seneca, who enjoyed great wealth as the adviser of Nero, suggested that we ought to set aside a certain number of days each month to practice poverty. Take a little food, wear your worst clothes, get away from the comfort of your home and bed. Put yourself face to face with want, he said, you’ll ask yourself “Is this what I used to dread?”
Comfort is the worst kind of slavery because you’re always afraid that something or someone will take it away. But if you can not just anticipate but practice misfortune, then chance loses its ability to disrupt your life.
The philosophy asserts that virtue (such as wisdom) is happiness and judgment be based on behavior, rather than words. That we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.
Seneca was the wealthiest person in the Roman Empire. He focused on the practical aspect of Stoicism: how to handle adversity and poverty and, even more critically, wealth.
Seneca’s version of that Stoicism is antifragility from fate. No downside from Lady Fortuna, plenty of upside.