No matter what the situation – whether you are interested in the philosophy of Stoicism or just want to follow the dictionary definition of “Stoic” – you need to learn to control yourself and be more aware of everything. Although it is possible to control actions and criticism, most things are beyond our control and are not worth the stress they cause. Being stoic is not being cold and aloof; therefore, think before you speak (or don't say anything). In addition to adopting this behavior on a daily basis, study Stoicism through meditation and reflection.
Method 1 of 3: Developing a Stoic Mindset
Step 1. Accept what cannot be changed
Some things, like what happens in the world and natural disasters, are beyond human control. In these cases, it's no use feeling guilty. Focus only on what you can control, such as your choices and opinions.
Imagine a football match: you can't control your opponents' abilities, the referee's decisions or how weather conditions affect the ball. On the other hand, you can choose how much you train before the match, how many hours you will rest etc
Step 2. Think before you speak and react with your emotions running high
Learn to have more self-control and awareness of what's going on around you. Being stoic has nothing to do with being silent all the time. Just think before talking about any situation - whether you want to follow Stoicism or prefer to act as the dictionary defines the term.
- For example, if someone offends you, don't call them back just out of anger. Don't argue, but consider whether what she said is true and whether there are ways to improve it.
- If you feel yourself getting irritated and can't concentrate on the facts, visualize calm, pleasant surroundings, mentally hum a song, or repeat some mantra such as "If I can't control it, I don't have to do anything."
Step 3. Don't worry about other people
There's nothing wrong with talking to people, but try not to babble nonsense just because you're nervous. It's impossible to control others - and there's no reason to be nervous. Don't feel obligated to adapt to what others expect, even more so if it compromises your own morals.
Step 4. Be humble and open to new knowledge
Learn from every opportunity, but don't try to be a know-it-all. Nobody learns when they think they've known everything they could know. Wisdom is one of the main virtues of Stoicism, and it is necessary for people to admit that they are not perfect.
- Read books, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries and find out about other ways to educate yourself more and more.
- You can listen to Café Brasil, BrainCast and several other podcasts, as well as watch documentaries about nature, technology, art, etc. on Netflix or other streaming platforms.
- If you want to study Stoicism in depth, read the writings of contemporary American philosopher William B. Irvine. The author's texts are accessible and don't use very complicated terms.
Step 5. Be fair, not thick
Stoic people aren't interested in emotional conflict, revenge, or anything like that-but that's not why they're cold, distant, and isolated. It is possible to have empathy even for those who hurt us, as long as we don't react with the emotions on the surface.
- For example, if a friend or relative takes out the anger they're feeling on you, don't turn your face toward them. Say “I don't think it's cool to be exchanging offenses. Let's calm down and deal with the situation another time."
- Revenge is never a stoic principle. For example, if you are responsible for supervising other employees at work, think of fair ways to “charge” for certain actions from them, but without exaggerating the punishments when something goes wrong.
Method 2 of 3: Applying the Principles of Stoicism to Life
Step 1. Don't waste time with distractions
Time is precious; so try not to lose it with useless things. It can be difficult since the world is so hectic, but focus on everything you do - even if you're sitting alone or chatting with friends. Don't get stuck on your cell phone and computer.
Also try not to get caught up in distractions like world news, current events and catastrophes. Getting informed is one thing, but getting stressed out about it doesn't do you any good
Step 2. Enjoy every moment
You don't have to be a curmudgeon to control yourself and live each moment. You can still enjoy the pleasures of life and nature.
For example, when given a glass of expensive wine, a stoic person might drink it and think, "What if this is the last glass of wine in my life?" It's not that she's thinking she's going to die, it's that she decided to enjoy this particular moment
Step 3. Don't worry about the little things
View life's challenges as opportunities to become a wiser and stronger person. When it comes to the little things, from spilled milk or the $5 bill you lost, stay calm and let it go.
Peace of mind is much more important than things of low value. As the Stoic philosopher Epithets said, "Starting with small things - a little spilled oil, a little stolen wine - repeat to yourself: 'For such a small price I can buy happiness'."
Step 4. Live surrounded by people you respect
Being stoic is not being isolated. You can try spending time with the people who are important in your life for more wisdom in making decisions.
Don't be elitist, but reflect on your friends and acquaintances: do they know you are responsible, encourage your learning and motivate you to always improve? Are any of them petty, critical, opportunistic or mean?
Step 5. Value your morals over material gains and praise
Strength of character is far more important than fortune, rewards, and praise. Make decisions according to your principles, not what they can generate.
- For example: don't help those in need just to be recognized, but because it's the right thing to do. Also, don't brag about it.
- Stoic people do not lie or act unethically for their own benefit.
Method 3 of 3: Meditating on Stoicism
Step 1. Visualize your place in the universe
The Circle of Hierocles is an exercise in visualization of Stoicism that helps the practitioner to reflect on their role in the midst of it all. Start by visualizing yourself; then think of your family and friends in a circle around you. Imagine your acquaintances, neighbors and co-workers in the next circle; the city in the next; in the latter, think of humanity, nature, and all of existence.
- Set aside about ten minutes for the exercise. If it helps you to concentrate, go somewhere quiet, sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.
- The goal is to appreciate the fact that everything is interconnected: you are part of a human community and ultimately have a relationship with the entire universe.
Step 2. Try to imagine a big loss
The praemeditatio malorum is a meditation on Stoicism in which the practitioner imagines himself losing something important, such as a job or a loved one. Imagine such a situation for a few seconds. It will be disturbing, but it will help you to accept the impermanence of things, prepare for obstacles, reflect on what is good, and overcome fears.
This negative visualization can help you get stronger from a psychological point of view, even more so in the face of uncontrollable obstacles. In other words: when something bad happens, you will have less difficulty dealing with the situation
Step 3. Read a sentence from a Stoic philosopher a day and reflect on the meaning
Repeat it several times and contemplate what it means. Even though that phrase is over two thousand years old, think about how it applies to your life today.
- You can also search for phrases from Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Read about Stoicism from trusted sources on the internet and at local libraries.
- You can also search for phrases, reflections and the like on blogs and even in academic papers on Stoicism.
Step 4. Write a journal to reflect on each day
At the end of the day, write about the challenges you faced and the decisions you made and contemplate negative habits you are trying to overcome. Reflect on the good things and your ways of dealing with circumstances.