The Joys of Being a Stoic
by Massimo Pigliucci
- “If there is nothing you can do about a particular situation, why beat yourself up about it?” — Massimo Pigliucci
- Stoicism shouldn’t be about suppressing your emotions. Moreso, Stoicism is about adjusting your unhealthy emotions (anger) to a more mindful embrace of healthier ones (joy).
- Stoicism receives a great deal of pushback regarding the negative effects of not acknowledging pain and the silent endurance and lack of emotion.
- Massimo quotes Epictetus (Greek Philosopher), “Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.”
- Massimo adds, “…the idea is to internalize our goals: Instead of focusing, as it comes natural, on outcomes, let’s pay attention to our intentions and efforts. The Stoics think that the only truly good thing for us is our own character, and that therefore the only truly bad things are whatever may undermine our character. Everything else (including health, wealth, reputation, etc.) has value, but does not define who we are.”
- The four virtues:
- Practical wisdom — the knowledge of what is truly good or bad for me. Will this undermine my character or not?
- Courage — doing something that frightens us.
- Justice — as treating other people, like my coworker, fairly and with respect.
- Temperance — we should do things in the right measure, neither too much nor too little.
- “Apply the dichotomy of control and the four virtues to everything you do and, as Epictetus promises, you will never be unhappy. You will be free, and you will live a life truly worth living.” — Massimo Pigliucci
Massimo mentions that the four virtues help us form a sort of moral compass. Allowing people to navigate the world and weather the storm of whatever that’s thrown at us. Moral compass or not, Stoicism or not, knowing your own virtues that help you navigate the world seems like an exercise worth doing.
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