About Stoicism

Stoicism is a philosophy which was founded in ancient Greece by Zeno of Citium during the Hellenistic era. It then reached the Roman Empire, where it became one of the dominant schools of thought, before being suppressed by the rise of Christianity

Unlike some other philosophies, stoicism is not merely a thought exercise or a theoretical discipline. It is a way of living; one which provides practical solutions to real world problems. Its tenets have been consistently useful in every period of history since it was founded. It remains as relevant today as it was in the ancient Greco-Roman world.

The belief system of stoicism is complex and varied, and it is open to misinterpretation. People who are not familiar with the philosophy, but who recognise the modern word “stoic”, may falsely believe that stoicism demands its adherents be cold, unemotional, and uncaring. This is not true.

Stoicism teaches people to live a virtuous life in accordance with nature, to be ethical and moral, to use reason and logic, and to dismiss destructive emotions. It does not demand you become a heartless automaton.

To be a stoic is to feel inner satisfaction, free from the transient pain and pleasure of the external world, but still inexorably part of the world. It promotes a strong will and determination, but not at the careless expense of the well-being of others. A stoic is clear-thinking, reasonable, level-headed and mindful.

None of these qualities come instantly. Stoicism can not be turned on like a light switch. It requires patience and practise, often through the use of specific stoic exercises. You must regularly keep yourself in check. Despite this hard work, it is not gruelling because it is not unnatural. Any rational person is fit to be a stoic. Many people are already stoics without realising it. Quite simply, stoicism makes sense. What’s more, it works.

As for me, I was diagnosed with major depression in 2007. I have, at various times, tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (which was influenced by stoicism) and prescribed medication. After years of suffering this dreadful illness I was introduced to the works if the ancient stoics. The more I read, the more sensible it seemed. Eventually I decided to adopt it as my guide to life. It has helped me immensely.

While I would never claim that philosophy alone can cure depression, it has gone some way to improving my mental well-being. Just as physical exercise builds your body, so too does philosophical exercise build your mind.

There may be someone else out there who is in the same situation I was in a few years ago. Perhaps this blog could help set them in a better direction.

1 thought on “About Stoicism

  1. Gede Prama

    Thank you for sharing this article quite interesting and, hopefully true happiness rays began to warm our hearts, when we can share it with sincerity. Greetings from Gede Prama 🙂

    Reply

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