A stoic personality is a personality type that is characterized by the unwillingness to display one’s emotions or be subject to emotional considerations. It is related but not identical to emotional intelligence.
What is stoicism?
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium. “Stoic” is the adjectival form of stoicism. However, the word stoic is today often used to refer to “unemotional” people or, more specifically, to those who are seemingly indifferent to pain, pleasure, grief, or joy.
The Stoics were particularly concerned with the role that passions play in upsetting moral thought and action. They believed certain destructive emotions resulted from errors of judgment, while others resulted from faulty reasoning. They thought the best strategy was to “live according to nature”, which they saw as divine law. This deterministic perspective on emotions led Stoics to advocate that all emotions be suppressed, or at least channelled into the appropriate response.
Stoics were interested in eliminating disabling emotions (passion) and encouraging enabling ones (temperance and courage). They wanted to reduce “destructive” emotions and encourage “constructive” ones, such as wisdom and serenity.
The idea of a stoic personality is sometimes confused with that of the personality type called the “emotional intelligence quotient (EQ),” which is a measurement of emotional quotient based on the ability to understand other people and their emotions, as well as one’s own. The confusion between EQ and Stoicism is because both have the same goal, namely to minimize destructive emotions and maximize constructive emotions.
What are the benefits of practising Stoicism?
Stoicism assists in
1. Managing adversity
No doubt life is full of struggle and adversity. The stoic simply looks forward to the day their adversity ends.
Stoics practise self-knowledge and self-understanding, and in doing so they come to know who they are, what they are capable of, and where they need improvement. This is important because it ensures that we remain true to our own standards of behaviour. It also allows us to understand how others may be acting better than us.
Self-control is a key ingredient in living a stoic life. The stoic person is able to control strong emotions, and therefore they are more likely to stay rational and make better decisions. Stoics don’t worry about things they can’t control, like the actions of other people. A stoic person knows that the only person they really have control over is themselves. By accepting this, the stoic person becomes more calm and relaxed in many situations where others would get angry or upset.
A stoic person is able to put themselves in the position of others around them, and this enables them to interact with different people on a personal level. It is hard to hate someone if you truly understand their emotions. Without empathy, we remain detached from those around us, which doesn’t allow for meaningful relationships to form. Empathy also allows us to see things from multiple perspectives, rather than just our own. This helps us to be more strategic and deliberate in our actions.
5. Facing fears
A stoic person will face their fears head-on without worrying about what other people may think. Stoics realise that other people’s opinions do not matter because only their own opinion of what they want to do matters, at least when they are faced with a particular fear. Facing fear allows for mastery over it, which shows we have grown as individuals and can cope with challenges in life.
Stoicism teaches us to face adversity head-on. True to their name, stoics are calm and focused in the face of difficult situations. This allows them to get through painful experiences in life without wasting time worrying about it. Resilience is how we make mountains out of molehills, and life is full of these molehills.
7. Living a Serenity Life
Serenity is achieved by living according to nature and accepting the flow of life as it unfolds. This is quite hard in a society that constantly tries to shape us and our lives into what they believe we should be. We are all different, so why conform to other people’s opinions of what we should be doing? After all, the power lies within us, not outside ourselves. The stoic sees this as liberating, and instead of being frustrated by other people’s inability to achieve “stoic wisdom”, stoics work on themselves to improve their own knowledge.
How to practice stoicism in 5 easy steps
If you are interested in practising stoicism, here are 5 easy steps to get started:
1. Time management
Stoics understand that time is something we don’t own and are often completely absorbed with our work and other outside activities. This doesn’t mean that you should neglect your family or yourself, but the key to controlling your time is understanding the way in which you use it. Having a clear goal is very important in a stoic lifestyle because it allows us to efficiently allocate our time rather than letting it slip by inefficiently.
2. Simple pleasures
Stoics do what they enjoy, not because they want material things like money, but because they know only natural pleasures will last. They mainly focus on “prosperity in poverty” because they understand that a life without any suffering is much better than a life full of suffering. This also includes acquiring wealth and becoming successful, but the reason why stoics insist on wanting prosperity in poverty is that it allows them to live frugally without worrying about their possessions.
3. Accepting “life as it is”
In a stoic system of living, absolute tranquillity should not be strived for. Instead, the key to happiness is learning to accept things for what they are. Acceptance and composure are important in this system of living because they allow us to be at peace with the current state of our life. They also allow us to handle difficult situations properly and efficiently.
4. Avoid unhealthy emotions
Stoic people recognise that harmful emotions, like fear and anger, are destructive and hinder rational judgement. They, therefore, strive to avoid these emotions as much as possible by understanding their causes and ignoring things that will trigger these unnecessary emotions in themselves. An example of this stoic behaviour is ignoring other people’s opinions of you – because it is only your opinion of yourself that matters. If other people disagree with you then let them think what they want, because the truth will always shine through eventually.
5. Practise meditation
Stoics understand that the mind is the source of most problems. They, therefore, try to meditate as much as possible and accept their thoughts. When faced with a difficult problem, they don’t waste time trying to figure it out or solve it, but instead free their mind from all worry and allow themselves to let go of whatever is causing them stress.