Stoicism Is a Superpower
Stoicism. A friend recently introduced this philosophy to me, and I loving philosophy, and being mindful about mindset dove into the idea.
The core of the philosophy seems to be this: To have a good and meaningful life, you need to overcome your insatiability.
Stoicism is a philosophy of grim endurance, of accepting the joys and pains in life under the same mindset. It’s a philosophy of seeing both trials and beauties in the same light.
Now, when I think of the word stoic, I think of someone with a rather blank expression on their face — void of emotion. But, Stoics do have emotions, but only for the things in this world that really matter. They are the most real people alive.
Stoicism is the theory of the successful.
Most people spend their lives in a long pursuit of happiness. So today’s successful person has a list (whether consciously or unconsciously) of desires. A sort of “I want” list. Then he proceeds to start chasing the first thing on this list and satisfying those desires.
Example person says to self, “I really want a Tesla.”
Example person achieves his desire of a Tesla.
Example person then says to self, “I really want a Porsche.”
The problem is that each desire, when satisfied, tends to be replaced by a new obsession. Which can quickly result in problems, especially if it becomes impossible to reach our wants or desires. Believing that happiness comes from achieving our next ambition will result in depression, feeling lost, and discontent.
The solution, the Stoics realized, is to learn to want the things you already have, rather than wanting other things. A part of Stoicism is learning to envision the bad in order to truly appreciate the good. Taking anything you have for granted does not result in gratitude. Gratitude is what leaves us feeling content with our situations. The most interesting technique that will help you achieve this is Negative Visualization.
Example person has a great house and a great car. Using negative visualization, he would imagine that he was homeless with no means of transportation. He would then begin to envision what it would take to survive as a homeless person. Once he had realized that it was quite realistic to survive while homeless and perhaps even be happy, he would then open his eyes, to his beautiful home. He was already doing just fine in his homeless life, but now he has a great home? What an incredible life — he is truly blessed with more than he even needs.
Practicing this prepares us for failure and makes us ready for success.
You see, Stoicism is not the domain of idle professors.
As Thoreau put it: “To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school…it is to solve some of the problems of life not only theoretically, but practically.”
The modern-day philosopher and writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb defines a Stoic as someone who “transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.”
Stoicism leaves you grounded and able to weather almost any storm that hurls itself into your path.
I’m not telling you to take a pessimistic view of life at all. I’m saying that in Stoicism, you can find a consistent and tranquil companion to the rocky path of life. You can accept failure and bad situations with a strong face and continue to push forward towards success without breaking down.
Epictetus was right when he said that “life is hard, brutal, punishing, narrow, and confining, a deadly business.”