The View From 30,000 Feet
Tenets of Stoicism
Stoicism was founded in Greece by Zeno of Cypress and was a Hellenistic philosophy that advocated for the transcendence of one’s passions to accurately assess oneself and the world. According to the Stoics, emotions and pleasure-seeking caused disruptions in the soul and that stoic enlightenment amounted to achieving complete disinterest in and indifference to pain, joy, love, hope, fear, etc.
In essence, Stoics believed that when you pulled back from looking at yourself in first person to a more “birds-eye-view” of third person and beyond, you could start to see your own interconnectedness to the people and things around you. Instead of getting caught up in your personal problems, you could be more objective about your situations and concerns.
- Stoicism ignores eastern philosophy and has a very privileged, white presentation. Many psychological studies are highly gendered and try to “prove” a correlation between gender, wellness, and stoicism, but also seem to rely more on the colloquial use of the term rather than what the Ancient Greeks and Romans defined it as.
- Originally, the Greeks believed Zeus predetermined everything about our lives and in the whole universe.
- Some say that Stoicism is just telling us we can’t do anything about the things that happen and that we just need to learn to accept things without emotional unrest, while others think that it’s impossible for humans to separate emotions from rational thinking at that it’s unrealistic and unhealthy to try to do so.
- One of the main tenets of Stoicism is “Focus on the things you can control, ignore the rest.” But a big argument against Stoic teachings is that humans should care about some external events that are happening.
Tools of Stoicism
- Consider checking out books on the subject if Stoicism intrigues you, or consider going straight to one of the earliest sources, “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius.
- Journaling in the morning and evening is a key component in order to prepare for the day ahead and reflect on the day that has passed.
- Learn to take a step back from an annoyance or a problem. Next time something challenging happens in your relationship, try doing the following:
- Take 10 seconds to breathe and calm your mind and body. If you find you’re still in the same emotional state, take 10–15 minutes away from your partner.
- Take time to reflect on the bigger picture.
- Go even further away from the present moment. What has been happening recently that may be weighing heavily on their mind?
- What is the current state of the world and how has that affected both of your moods and wellbeing?
- Think about your whole life, biases, triggers, and values that you have because of everything you’ve been through.
- Now think about your partner and use what you know of them to reflect on their life, experiences, biases, triggers, and values.
- Circle back and realize these emotions and intense feelings represent only a moment in time for each of you. Try to go back to your partner with these thoughts in mind and hopefully with some compassion and sympathy for them and what they are going through.