The philosophy of Stoicism was founded around 300 BC in Athens by a Phoenician called Zeno of Citium. It was first established as a school of thought. Its founding principles are that people should live in accordance with nature, which means to be helpful and tolerant towards others. It teaches that we shouldn’t be overly concerned by external stimuli like wealth or status but be determined to persevere in the face of them instead. In this post we will discuss the 8 principles of Stoicism.
Stoicism has become popularised in modern society by its adoption as a framework for living by many prominent figures including actors, businessmen, and philosophers. It’s considered to be a powerful tool for self-improvement for many of them.
What are the 8 principles of Stoicism?
As many have moved to a life of Stoicism for the personal development attributes of this philosophy. Many wish to learn about the principles which form this philosophy. The following are some of the principles that form the tenets of Stoicism:
1. Nature: Nature is rational
In this principle, the Stoic philosophers believed that the universe is governed by reason. It is said that living according to nature is synonymous to living according to reason. In terms of the human being, this means that we should attempt to live in accordance with our human nature.
Instead of attempting to force our lives for something that it isn’t it should be allowed to unfold as it naturally would. If we look at how humans naturally develop and progress through life, then we’ll be able to see what decisions would align with this principle.
How to use it: As we make decisions in our lives, we should remember this principle and try to weigh the pros and cons of each decision according to it. This will help us flow with life instead of forcing it to go a certain way.
2. Law of Reason
This principle states that the universe is governed by reason. As living beings, we are physical manifestations of the universe itself. This means that everything in our life is to be done as if it has a purpose or meaning behind it.
How to use it:
When we make decisions in our lives we can ask ourselves what would happen if the world was governed by reason, how could I tell? We could also consider ourselves the physical manifestation of reason itself and how can we uphold this principle through our actions.
The Stoics were the first to make wise decisions based on reason. The wisdom that we’re able to obtain from this philosophy is far greater than any other system of thought. It’s a philosophy that teaches us that life is governed by reason and that it should be lived accordingly.
How to use it:
We can look at the reasoning behind everything we do in our lives and try to incorporate this into our actions. This helps us maintain a level of control over what we do and how it affects ourselves and others around us.
This principle states that we should practice virtue, which is the quality of acting in accordance with reason. The Stoics strongly believed that virtue was dependent on having a well-ordered mind and understanding the reasoning behind what we do.
How to use it:
We can use this principle to ask ourselves: why are we acting? We should be able to answer this question before we act on any decision in our lives as it will help us make better decisions.
Apathea means that we should learn how to be content with what we’re given in life instead of choosing to focus on things outside of our control. The things that we can control are our attitude, our thoughts, and the way we react and respond to what life gives us.
We shouldn’t become attached or dependant on external factors like wealth or status as these can change at any moment. This principle teaches us that it’s wise to be content with whatever happens in life and focus on internal factors instead.
How to use it:
We can ask ourselves: what are the things that I have control of in my life? This will help us become less stressed when we’re faced with uncertainty. We also need to learn to focus only on the things that we can influence as this will help us maintain a level of happiness in our lives.
We should be able to have a certain amount of pleasure in our lives. The Stoics believed that the quantity and quality of our pleasures should be proportional to what we’re able to control.
How to use it:
We should try to live a life that is pleasing to us, even if it isn’t as pleasurable as we wish it could be. We can also make the most of life’s little pleasures which often go unnoticed by others.
Poverty, death and illness are just some of the adversities that we face in life. We shouldn’t expect these things to always happen to us but we should be prepared to face them if they do.
The Stoics believed that evil is sometimes necessary in order for good things to occur later on in life. This means that we should be ready to handle whatever comes our way and make the most out of our circumstances.
How to use it:
We should gather the strength to deal with whatever life throws at us instead of running away from it. We must also understand that sometimes things happen in our lives, not because of evil forces but because they’re necessary for a better outcome.
This principle includes the duty to live according to nature (Principle 1) and the duty to practice virtue ( Principle 3 ). The Stoics believed that these are duties that we have to fulfil as human beings. They weren’t just duties which we were forced by law or religion but they were our duties as human beings.
How to use it:
We can see how our responsibilities towards other people, the world, and ourselves are aligned with this principle. The duty to practice virtue is a duty to follow our human nature and the duty to live according to nature is a duty that we must fulfil in order for our lives to flow smoothly.
Implementing the 8 principles of stoicism in your life
Now for the fun part. How can we implement all of these principles into our everyday lives? Well, I’ll tell you how.
The main reason people don’t apply the principles is that they don’t understand their impacts. Many people will read this post and say oh I already use this in my life.
Well then, do you REALLY use them? Think about it. Does the way you deal with social situations, family problems and health problems align with stoic principles?
If you’re not sure, then I’ll show you how they can be applied and how they can make your life a lot better. What I’m about to show you have made me a lot better than I was a month ago. My happiness has risen and I’ve also become more confident in everything that I do. It’s not just plain luck either.
If you’re thinking “Oh this is too complicated, I don’t want to practice stoicism”. I understand, it’s a lot of information to digest. But if you take your time and really internalize them, they’ll become second nature to you. They’re not “simple” principles. They’re very hard to implement because they require us to be chill and focus on what we do.
The idea behind all of this is that choosing a particular course of action requires our conscious will and cognition. The principles have to be internalized and understand as a part of who we are.
What I’m going to walk you through is simple. You just need to understand the principles, practice them in your life and then focus on bringing them into everything that you do.
Let’s get started.
1- Understanding the reason for action in your life:
The goal of action is not external but internal: Once you understand this principle, it’s actually a very simple one to practice. The principle behind this is that we should find the reason why we’re doing something. To put it simply, it’s all about understanding what your goal in life is. If you don’t know the answer to this question, ask yourself: “What do I want out of my life?”
2- The importance of control over external factors in your life:
We’re always going to have things that happen in our lives which we can’t control. This is why the Stoics believed that we have to be ready for anything that life throws at us. It’s the only way to maintain a positive attitude.
The main thing here is to understand that everything outside of you is going to fluctuate and change at any given moment. The only way to see things differently is to realize that it’s not important what’s outside of you but how you choose to deal with it.
3- Complete indifference:
We should be able to have complete indifference towards anything which doesn’t directly affect us. This will help us maintain a positive attitude even when we’re faced with small setbacks in life.
For example, a lot of people get upset if they can’t get a job interview because they see it as something that would affect their life negatively. But if we think about it, why is it affecting our lives so much? It’s only affecting us because we’re choosing to make it affect us. It’s not that bad.
4- Indifferent events are outside your control:
We should take in different events in stride because they’re beyond our control. We can’t stop them from happening, but if we handle them with indifference then there will be very little for us to worry about.
For example, something may happen while the interview happens that knocks it out of the window. How do you deal with this? Well, you don’t get upset or angry because you see it as beyond your control so why should you get upset about it? The important thing to remember here is that we’re trying to keep a positive attitude.
5- The presence of suffering in all things:
We should realize that everything in life has the potential for suffering. This is the reason why we have to be prepared to deal with anything that happens. We can’t expect everything to go smoothly all the time.
For example, we may say “Oh nothing happened so I’m fine and I did great at my interview. Life is good!”
But if we think about it, there were many things that could have gone wrong. Things could have gone much worse. We might not have gotten the job, we may not have gotten the position, etc. These are all “what-ifs”. It’s better to see them as an opportunity for us to improve ourselves and practice even more stoic principles in the future.
What are the benefits of leading a stoic life
When going down the path of stoicism you’re probably wondering why adopting this philosophy will bring any real benefit to your life. Considering that most philosophers don’t really put much thought into how an individual might benefit from their philosophies, you might be right.
The benefits of leading a stoic life are plenty and they include:
Becoming a better person
One of the main outcomes will be that you’ll become a better person. When you’re able to think about your life objectively and be more aware of all the things that happen to you, you’ll be able to make better decisions and take an active part in shaping your own life.
When we become aware of the reasoning behind our actions, not only do we develop wisdom but we also become more confident and strong. This helps us deal with adversity when it inevitably comes our way.
Learning to love yourself
We’re in constant search for love from others because we’re not fully able to show love towards ourselves. Stoicism teaches us that we should “love ourselves”, which is a very powerful concept. Loving ourselves means that we’re able to become more aware of the things that happen in our lives and be more content with the things we have in front of us. It also means that we have control over our own emotions and can choose how we feel towards certain people or events.
Because of the insight you get from practising stoicism, you’ll be able to be more self-aware. When we’re more self-aware we’re able to love ourselves more which is a crucial step in learning to love others.
Become a better friend
When you practice stoicism you’ll become aware of how much influence your friends have over your life and consequently over yours. Stoicism helps us understand that our friends are human beings who make mistakes just like we do. We shouldn’t expect them to do everything “right” and never make any mistakes.
Being aware of our friends’ flaws will also remind us that they’re human just like we are. This will help us stay grounded and avoid getting attached to people who don’t really deserve it.
Become a better parent or teacher
You might be surprised to learn that stoicism can be very useful when dealing with other people. Stoicism teaches you to understand how other people think and why they act in a certain way. This will help you to deal with people who are difficult to understand or irrational.
The stoic philosopher Epictetus said, ” don’t accuse or blame others — tell yourself that this is your own doing.” This quote shows us that Stoics believe that we’re in control of our emotions and actions. When you become aware of how other people behave around you, you’ll be able to accept them for who they are instead of judging them all the time.
One of the best things about Stoicism is that it’s free. Since all you need is a little bit of time to get started and maybe research some material, you’re good to go. There are no “tools” involved in this process. All you need is yourself and of course, some books or lectures that might help you along the way.
Freedom from fear
One of the main obstacles to leading a happy life is being scared all the time. Fear of the future is something that we all struggle with at different times. By practising stoicism, we’re able to understand that our fears are useless and also irrational.
The fear of the future shouldn’t prevent us from enjoying the present moment. Being extra cautious about everything is a waste of time and energy and will only make you more anxious in the long run. We must accept the fact that life involves risk and use caution when appropriate. That’s just how life works.
Stoicism is a very useful philosophy because it helps us deal with life in a more meaningful and meaningful way. Stoicism will make you more aware of certain aspects of the world that most people don’t even consider or think about. It will help you to have a better understanding of the world around you and make it easier to love others and yourself.
While you might not agree with all the pillars of stoicism, they will definitely force you to think about some things that you haven’t before. You’ll be able to develop wisdom and learn how to deal with emotions in a more effective way.