What is Stoicism? A Definitive Guide to Stoic Philosophy

A Complete Guide to Stoicism and Stoic Philosophy

Throughout the history of human civilisation, people looked for the meaning of their existence. They searched for a moral standard to guide their hope, dreams, and practices. Many religions, philosophies, and schools of thought convinced billions into an ideal of truth—and one of them is Stoicism.

Stoicism, which has its roots in antiquity, has gained popularity online for its sayings and meditations. However, Stoicism’s true history, teachings, and philosophy remain elusive for many people.

Fortunately, this article is here to guide you to stoic thought. Upon finishing this article, you will gain a deeper appreciation and grasp of its teachings and impact on Western civilization. You may even find this philosophy as your map toward happiness and purpose.

The History of Stoicism

The foundation of Stoic belief under Greek philosophy

The core of Stoicism teaches that people must live with a peaceful mind, a solid moral character, and specific values throughout their days, no matter what happens. Philosophers, teachers, and ethicists built their principles on this foundation throughout millennia.

When Aristotle and Alexander the Great passed away in the third century BCE, Athens lost its status as the leading center of civilization and philosophy; cities like Rome and Alexandria would take their place. Athens’ decline meant that the citizens’ concept of the Greek city-state and polis shattered. They became a cog in distant empires and spheres of influence. Furthermore, the collapse of the Athenian social hierarchy and democracy brought disorder, confusion, and dread. Their traditions were figments of the past, reminding them of a nostalgic, golden era when Athenian men wielded democratic power and a sense of order.

This dishevelled transition period in Greece laid the ground for Stoicism and its teachings. “Ancient” philosophies and moral codes seemed obsolete for such a troubled time, but parts of their tenets still seemed appealing and reasonable. The Milesians believed that nature has a universal and beautiful order, while Heracleitus said divine fire and transformation reigned on the cosmos. Likewise, The adherents of monism emphasized reason, similar to how Socrates taught that one must pursue wisdom to understand human nature. As for practical ethics, Cynic philosophers applied a lifestyle marked by simplicity and neutral emotions. On reasoning, Megarians passionately studied paradoxes and logical argumentation.

Zeno, the founder of Stoicism

During the third century BCE, a student at the Academy founded by Plato named Zeno of Citium rose to become one of the pillars of Western civilization. He taught his insights in Stoa Poikile (or Painted Colonnade in English) about genuine happiness, virtue, and cosmic order. The philosophy he discussed at Stoa would become what would get called Stoicism.

Zeno of Citium devised the following principles regarding logic, cosmology, and knowledge:

  • The subdivisions of philosophy are logic (including argumentation, grammar, and reasoning), ethics (achieving harmony with nature through proper actions), and physics (encompassing even the divine essence of the world).
  • Logic is a tool necessary to achieve a greater purpose; it is not optional.
  • People can reach happiness by living with balance and agreement with the cosmos’ natural order. (You may read more about this teaching here.)
  • Morality and knowledge come from perceiving reality (or “physical theory”).
  • Wise people serve as an exemplar of excellence.
  • The world of forms taught by Plato is unreal. Instead, void space occupies what is beyond the cosmos.
  • True wisdom must come with agreement and approval.
  • All matter has a “divine fire,” which provides reason transcending its material properties.
  • The cosmos has a cycle of destruction and subsequent renewal or rebirth.
  • All material things are “real” or corporal, bound by fate and cause-and-effect.

Regarding character and ethics, Zeno taught the following:

  • Members of society must think of the collective, prioritizing the whole instead of smaller loyalties.
  • All people have a duty and responsibility to act according to the rules of nature.

Zeno built what would become stoic philosophy through the influence of Plato and earlier schools of thought mentioned above. But unlike earlier philosophies, Stoicism is practical and timeless. It promises peace and joy through proper action, character, and mindset!

Zeno’s successors and the Greek evolution of Stoicism

After Zeno passed away, Cleanthes of Assos led the stoic movement. He started associating Greek pagan religion with this philosophy. In his poem to Zeus, Cleanthes praised the natural order, transcendent reason, and governing laws of the cosmos.

Stoicism further blossomed from competing schools of thought during the leadership of Chrysippus of Soli. He solidified the themes taught by Zeno by attacking sceptics and rival logicians. His treatises and defense of Stoicism established its logic, ethical teachings, and basis of wisdom.

Chrysippus also cleared out the roles of fate, human choice, the “divine fire,” and the definition of the cosmos according to Stoicism. He added that humans and the world have different natures, adding that self-preservation also rules over all living beings. Therefore, genuine morality must satisfy both the laws and dispositions of man and the universe. Ethics must get built with logic and physics (including theology) to achieve this—this is their inherent purpose and value.

Chrysippus solidified Stoicism so much that little would evolve from this philosophy after his career ended near the third century BCE.

Stoicism’s reputation and standing in ancient Greece

Because of this, Stoicism became popular in ancient Greece among the nobles and learned citizens. The Hellenistic period saw the expansion of Greek philosophy and culture throughout the known world. Thinkers adhered to the legacy of Socrates and Aristotle: knowledge and rationality are the ultimate ideals. Reason can help people transcend the “self” and represent their existence in the universe.

But the Stoics taught that virtue and perception are ingrained in the world, relating humankind to the cosmos. Their logic states that since sensory experience is an absolute truth, people can reach certainty based on their perception. Hence, the world may be filled with matter, but everything is governed by the “divine fire” of reason, fate, and virtue. These abstract rules transcend the universe’s material components and provide order, harmony, and balance.

For the Stoics, humankind must learn the cosmos’ arrangement to gain peace and stability. According to Stoicism, each person must contribute to society and remain loyal to their duty. He must also remain virtuous, just, full of integrity, purposeful, and aware of his worth. Since fate governs the cosmos, mercy, pity, and depression are immoral. These attitudes run contrary to the sense of duty that people ought to have, as taught by Stoicism. Nonetheless, brotherhood and benevolence must define people’s dealings with one another.

Zeno’s were enough that his students and followers no longer drastically altered his teachings. Instead, they used his core principles and adapted them as philosophy, and religions like Christianity progressed centuries later.

Stoicism spread to the Roman Empire.

Chrysippus made Stoicism appealing in Greece by defending and edifying its logic and truth claims. But Panaetius and Poseidonius helped spread this philosophy throughout the Roman world by emphasizing its principles of duty and morality. As the Empire grew more prominent and busier, Stoicism served as an individualistic thought that Romans could practice and apply. Stoicism also helped the learned citizens to view the law, their civic role, religion, and how they must treat others.

Within two centuries after Chrysippus died, Stoicism reached Rome in a period called Middle Stoa. The school of Stoicism on the island of Rhodes served as the launchpad for its spread. Panaetius and Poseidonius, his students, made Stoicism closer to Plato and Aristotle’s teachings. Moreover, Poseidonius matched the philosophy’s religious and ethical values to the Roman religion.

The two men taught and influenced Cicero, one of the most famous Roman politicians, writers, and philosophers. He studied at Rhodes, learning that Stoicism may help interpret natural and divine events. Cicero also wrote books about the stoic view on societal duties.

Stoicism: a mainstream philosophy in the Roman Empire

Once Stoicism’s philosophical and moral teachings spread from Rome to other learning centres, leading Roman thinkers contributed their stoic wisdom, meditations, and applications. The essays and letters by Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius made Stoicism more practical for daily living. Meanwhile, Stoicism’s perspective on “natural law” and reason (also known in philosophy and even Christianity as the “logos”) became premises and tools for intellectual discussions and argumentation. Hence, Stoicism has become widespread and fundamental in the life of civilized Romans.

The rivals of Stoicism

During the age of classical antiquity, these leading philosophies and religions competed against Stoicism:

  • Epicureanism teaches that humanity’s purpose in life is to seek pleasure or the absence of physical and emotional pain.
  • Scepticism holds that avoiding dogmas, doctrines, and arguments can lead to happiness and peace.
  • Christianity is a religion teaching that man can find joy, purpose, and salvation with eternal life through a relationship with and faith in the one true God and Jesus Christ.

Stoicism started to fade in the second century CE. But Christianity would have the most significant impact on Stoicism’s legacy in the coming centuries. Christian religious leaders, philosophers, and apologists would harbour Stoic principles in teaching and applying the faith.

The relationship between Stoicism and Christianity

Zealous Roman worshippers adapted Stoic philosophy to understand and adore their gods’ pantheon. But as Christianity expanded in the known world, Stoicism also served as an inspiration or common ground in converting people. Stoicism’s moral teachings embellish several parts of Christian theology, helping followers defend and practice their beliefs. Furthermore, when Christianity prevailed in the West until the 1800s. In the meantime, the logic and ethics of Stoicism became a tool in the background.

This section is not a promotion of the Christian faith. This chapter in Stoicism’s history only shows its flexibility besides the creeds of the rising Christian religion from the second century onwards. While Stoics find comfort in the providence of fate and natural order, Christians believe that a caring and merciful God is in charge of their lives.

There are several instances when Christian leaders seem or directly apply Stoicism during its first centuries.

  • Some scholars and critics argue that Apostle Paul adapted Stoicism in his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 11, verse 4), where he appeals to “nature” regarding having long hair as a disgrace among men. They argue that this reasoning resembles Stoic thought. In Acts 17, Paul appealed to Stoicism as the common ground in preaching to the Athenians. He quoted a Stoic philosopher named Aratus so that his audience would accept his faith that human beings have an innate relationship with God.
  • One of the most prominent Christian figures, Tertullian, uses Stoicism to discuss the harmony between God, the soul, the body, and the truth. He also applied Stoic understanding to interpret the Biblical “logos” and refute pagans, heretics, and critics. At the same time,
  • Cyprian used Stoic language to argue that enslaved people must not be harshly treated because they share the same matter, soul, and law as their master. This cosmopolitan world-brotherhood viewpoint was a mainstream Stoic talking point during the third century.
  • Ambrose and Marcus Felix, both scholars of the Catholic Church during the fourth century, used Cicero’s meditations on Stoic ethics.

Although Christian literature centuries after Jesus’ death seemed to harmonies with Stoic thought, many apologists refuted aspects of this philosophy, especially on theology. While appealing to Stoic arguments, Tertullian contradicted the Stoic belief on the divine flame and reason being a part of the matter. Origen also attacked how Stoics view God or divine nature as a component of matter.

One of the core practical beliefs of Stoicism is the value of apathy or freedom from pleasure, pain, emotion, or disturbance of the soul. For philosophers, apathy is the characteristic of wise people and divine beings. So how can the Biblical God display human feelings like anger? Moreover, how can God provide justice to sinners and offenders of the law?

Their contemporary Catholic writer, Lactantius, spent so much energy countering the Stoic detractors who used these arguments against Christian theology. Meanwhile, Augustine said that God’s anger is his divine judgment free from all partial emotion and disturbance.

Nonetheless, Stoicism will continue to mingle with the Christian faith as Catholicism becomes the official state religion of the West. Stoic philosophy and morality had been ingrained in Roman thought and practice that thinkers used as their framework in understanding the new mainstream belief—Christianity. The Roman Empire may have collapsed during the first half of the millennium, but the legacy of Stoicism remains flickering in the growing barbarism of the time.

During the sixth century, Christian philosophers pondered on the conflict of free will and the dogma that God knows everything. Looking for answers, they looked at Stoicism, which also struggled with the concepts of fate and personal choice. During this time, Boethius, a leading thinker, alluded to the books authored by Cicero and Seneca, the pillars of Roman Stoicism.

Stoicism’s societal role during the medieval period

As the Roman Empire collapsed, the Dark Ages saw a recession from the height of civilization. But Stoic principles would help bring back the notion of equality before the law.

During the seventh century, a Catholic theologian from Spain named Isidore of Sevilla compiled legal and political books written by Roman scholars. These third-century materials relied on Stoicism in discussing the natural, national, and civil laws. According to them, all people have one nature under the law, which everyone must follow and know. This principle brought what the Romans called “common law,” a term that would resurface in Western nations during the medieval period.

As the millennium began, medieval philosophers and thinkers read Cicero and Seneca’s books about Stoicism. They applied the Stoic civil doctrine on legal equality and obligations for the population. In 1159, John of Salisbury wrote the Policraticus, the first meaningful treatise about the philosophy of governance since antiquity. Stoicism guided his work. John taught about the value of the common law, divine providence, duties, and justice—all emphasized by Stoicism. In building his social theories, John of Salisbury also adopted an infusion of Christian and Stoic themes and ethics. His discourse would guide many theologians and philosophers, including Thomas Aquinas, known for his ideas on “natural law.”

Stoicism during the Renaissance period

The 16th century saw the revival of Greek and Roman culture, science, and tradition. During the Renaissance, philosophers renewed their interest in Stoic views on politics, morality, and logic. After all, Stoicism defined the lifestyle and mindset of Roman legislators, aristocracy, and nobility.

Justus Lipsius is recognised as one of the first scholars to bring Stoicism back to public thought. He blended Stoic concepts on human nature and politics with Christianity, defending it as a legitimate philosophy. His work would become the catalyst for more Stoic philosophers and thinkers during this period. Guillaume du Vair and Pierre Charron (both French philosophers) and Michel de Montaigne (a French essayist) would propel Stoicism into mainstream conversations on morality and proto-sociology.

Stoicism during the Age of Enlightenment

The European world shook during the Reformation and the subsequent Age of Enlightenment. But as theologians and thinkers strove to correct past errors in science and traditions, Stoicism served as their implicit guide. Francis Bacon (a pillar of scientific philosophy) and Charles-Louis de Montesquieu (the proponent of the separation of powers in government) used Stoic doctrines in their writings and discourses.

Philosophers during this age also combated many Aristotelian interpretations of medieval thought. In doing so, they applied Stoic dogmas, which also contradicted many of Aristotle’s philosophies during the Age of Antiquity:

  • Pietro Pomponazzi cited Stoic thoughts on freedom and divine providence to debunk Averroists. They believe that everything, including free will, was fated through earlier causes and events. Hence, having choices is only an illusion.
  • Leonardo Bruni, a humanist historian, advocated for Stoic teachings about free will and reason.
  • Francesco Patrizi and Giordano Bruno used Stoicism to teach that God and the universe are one; God is the “world soul” that brings the “life process” to the cosmos.
  • Thomas More (the social theorist who wrote Utopia) and Hugo Grotius (an author on war laws and social rights) implied Stoicism in considering human nature while determining general direction.
  • The leader of the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland, Huldryh Zwingli, quoted Stoicism in his doctrine of predestination. He applied Stoic thought in balancing free will, moral responsibility, and “fate.”

Deism is one of the results of a mixture of Christianity and Stoicism. Although this school of thought stood against mainstream Christianity, many Reformers advocated some of its teachings. Huldryh Zwingli and Desiderius Erasmus believed that all religions and dogmas must have a similar standard of truth about the divine. Herbert of Cherbury, its leading proponents, taught that thinkers must pursue the similarities and reconciliation of contrary religious doctrines. These philosophies resemble Stoicism.

Philipp Melanchthon declared that the state must be apart from the Church since its authority came from divine natural law. This teaching would become vital in the democratic ideals that surfaced in the following centuries. He also used Stoic doctrines on natural reason and rules, which, according to him, should be the basis of moral order.

Rene Descartes launched the Cartesian revolution. While many philosophers celebrate this progress, many forget the influence of Stoicism in its progress. These are some of the ways Stoicism influenced how people viewed morality, Christianity, and humanity:

  • God placed law and reason on man; obedience to these is the basis of morality.
  • Humankind must know its position and value in the world. Understanding this nature and examining themselves is the foundation of ethics. Only then can people know how to act correctly and morally.
  • While the body is material, the powers of thought and will are unique to humans. This philosophy is the dualism of the soul and body.

Meanwhile, Benedict de Spinoza, another leading rationalist, taught that people could only reach truth and freedom through valid reason. He also adopted a form of Stoic pantheism. But Blaise Pascal mixed Christianity, Stoicism, and Cartesianism. According to Pascal, humans can create correct choices. However, the right reason can help people reach the God of truth (like how Stoicism teaches that it can help people understand the divine fire or the natural law). But these means cannot bring humans to the God of love. Blaise Pascal also rejected philosophies that rejected free will.

(If you want to learn the differences between Stoicism and Buddhism, read this article.)

Stoic philosophy today

Postmodern thinking has come a long way since the ancient Greeks pondered the universe. Nonetheless, modern philosophers take many influences from Stoicism, leading to its rise today. Many believe that people’s lives are deeply ingrained in the world, humans share the exact fundamental nature, and humankind is connected. Most thinkers also prioritize reason in understanding the cosmos and its order. These messages are the core principles of Stoicism that endured across the centuries.

Most importantly, the Internet allowed Stoicism to reach millions of people. It is no longer a philosophy only confined to libraries and intellectual discourse. Stoicism has become a guide for people seeking purpose, meaning, and happiness. What does Stoicism teach, and what lessons can it bring you?

The teachings of Stoicism

Stoicism’s principles have been tested through centuries of examination, inference, and trials. Now, you will learn the core teachings of this philosophy, first taught by the Greek philosophers who began this school of thought.

1. Follow nature and your duty to find serenity.

Stoicism has taught that people must conduct their lives according to nature from the time of its founders. We must conform to the cosmos’ order since its material parts have an innate purpose and logic. Likewise, everyone is connected to the human society, where they must contribute with their reasoning and societal input.

Therefore, Zeno declared that humans must fulfil their duties and participate in building up society, including our families and relationships. (He is remarkably the first ancient philosopher to emphasize contributing to other people as a source of purpose and direction.) Zeno believed that people must find the balance between their spirit and the divine nature that rules the cosmos.

Original Stoics believe in pantheism: God is in nature as a divine fire. This flame connects all of humankind and the world through a natural order or reason. Hence, staying grounded on this balance guarantees joy and satisfaction. Conflict with this harmony, however, causes misery and disruption. This is the form of spiritualism that Stoicism adheres to, but it is still different from other spirit-based faiths in this regard.

You may read other precious quotes and sayings by Stoic philosophers and thinkers here. We also listed the best books about Stoicism that will guide you too.

2. Virtue is the only path towards happiness. Hence, always value and choose virtue.

The first Stoic thinkers argued about their priorities and applications for this philosophy. But they all believed that people could only discover true joy by striving for virtue or excellence. To achieve this, people must deny themselves from passion and lust.

During the reign of Emperor Augustus, he had Stoic counsellors and guides whose teachings contributed to Roman Stoicism. Arius Didymus was among them. According to him, these four traits are the virtues of Stoicism:

  1. Wisdom means knowing what is right, wrong, and between to understand the righteous and fitting action. Becoming wise leads people to be intelligent, careful, alert, creative, and determined. If you are a creative person, Stoicism is a philosophy for you!
  2. Self-control means knowing what to choose, avoid, and ignore. Mastering this makes people polite, decent, modest, and self-aware.
  3. Justice involves giving what people deserve and understanding the situation. This character includes religiosity, compassion, and fairness.
  4. Bravery, according to Stoicism, means staying persistent, courageous, dignified, and diligent despite challenging and dreadful times.

These principles of Stoic characteristics are the foundation of other traits and lifestyles that can lead to happiness. People should always fulfil and practice them in each situation; we cannot simply choose which virtue to pick.

Reading this, you might think that Stoicism requires discipline. You are right: this philosophy necessitates a drastic change in your attitude and mindset on where to find joy. According to Stoicism, satisfaction in life does not rest on wealth, material things, fleeting pleasures, and the external world. You can only reach happiness by practising virtue, staying selfless, and conducting your responsibilities.

Stoicism teaches that people become good and evil based on how they decide and act on their thoughts and sentiments. Ancient Stoic writings, including the works of Epictetus, also declare that we must focus not on what happens around us. Instead, people must think of how they understand, cope, and adapt to these events.

Disasters, miseries, accidents, and other mishaps are neutral; they are not “good” or “bad.” However, people’s level of virtue comes from how they interpret, reason, and decide how to respond to these negative happenings. If you allow desires, harmful emotions, and incorrect notions to reign over your mind during such times, you only breed suffering and uncertainty within you. Hence, Epictetus teaches us to stop focusing on things and events. We should instead priorities our judgment and reason.

3. We do not have power over what happens around us. But we can control how we think, respond, and fulfil our duties.

People have responsibilities to meet and relationships to foster. At the same time, problems and tragedies may arise, weighing us down from what we value. How should we face these external issues according to Stoicism?

Zeno said we should correctly understand these outside factors to remain steadfast and peaceful. We should aspire for prosperity and wellness since these can help us benefit others while reaching virtue. However, earthly goals like these are only temporary and uncontrollable, no matter how hard we try to achieve and maintain them.

We must think of what we can control—our minds, beliefs, priorities, and actions. Doing this can help us maintain strong character even if we experience misfortunes. Such is the tranquillity that a Stoic lifestyle brings.

Zeno’s successors strived to practice steadfastness as well. Antipater said that we should constantly live in harmony with nature and reject anything that stands against it. So our selfish desires and wants must not supersede our morality. He also taught his Stoic students that people must contribute to society—it is our duty to uplift others and make the community strong. To do this, Antipater said that we should start at home and business. Creating a solid marriage, a robust family, and an ethical working habit makes society thrive bottom-up.

Panaetius, one of Antipater’s disciples, emphasized the role of ethics towards success and happiness. He taught Roman statesmen and politicians about Stoicism, and his training helped the leaders of the Republic. In his works and sermons, Panaetius said that people have an innate responsibility to priorities society’s common good and not his ambitions. Moreover, he believes that everyone wants to become a leader, and one can achieve this by pursuing greatness and serving others.

Many people falsely believe that Stoics should always feel numb or neutral. Instead, Stoicism teaches that we must remove harmful emotions through the following:

  • Positive feelings brought by righteous judgment, correct deeds, and rational hope;
  • Controlled fear and caution (contrary to anxiety and worries);
  • Happiness, gratitude, and brotherhood.

4. We all have the capacity and means to succeed.

Stoics believe that human nature is not automatically corrupt, sinful, and helpless. Cleanthes, one of Zeno’s students, believe that all people got born with the strength and capability to reach their potential and aspirations. We received seeds of good character that we must foster and practice throughout our lives despite our terrible surroundings.

Likewise, Panaetius advised the Roman youth to develop these innate gifts and defeat the influence of vices. Nature commands people to align their instincts with virtue to fulfil their duties and lead dignified lives. By maximizing our resources, we can train ourselves towards excellence and mastery in all we do.

What are these resources that we have within? Epictetus said that they are our logical thinking, sensations, free will, and morality. Because of this, he declared that education must empower these qualities like weapons, especially the students’ character.

5. Do not become hopeful, anxious, or angry. They are toxic. Instead, stay stolid, passive, and “unemotional.”

According to ancient Stoic writings, hope and fear complement each other, equally toxic. These mindsets are merely unclear imaginations into the future, fixated thoughts on results beyond our control. We will fail our duties and responsibilities by getting chained by our view of uncertainty. Instead, people must devote their full attention to the present since it can determine the actual future. The now is also within our grasp and direction.

Succumbing to anger is also evil in Stoicism. Because of this, philosophers wrote extensively about this emotion to share how they controlled their fury and converted it into something productive. Seneca said that you could gradually heal it by distancing yourself from the problem and letting time pass before responding when upset. Marcus Aurelius advised that men can demonstrate their strength even more by staying gentle and civil during heated times.

6. Do not complain or look for people to blame for your problems.

Stoics emphasize accountability and moral responsibility, especially in decision-making. So, when you fail to practice virtue, you cannot point to the devil, sinful peers, or outside influences. The mind is always unified in making actions—even if you feel conflicted, you will face the consequences of what you finally do.

Posidonius, while pondering on the intense political infighting in Rome, tried to argue that the soul has an irrational part. So he taught that people must live by meditating on the natural laws and the truth. Doing this will help them overcome the senseless passions and thoughts triggered inside the mind.

Yes, we have different personalities and starting points. But complaining about inequity and differences will not help, as Stoic philosophers implied in their teachings. They believe that our inner capabilities matched with hard work and virtue can propel us to our goals. Courage, fortitude, and wisdom are vital for this to happen, especially as we face life’s battles and struggles.

Furthermore, Stoic teachings imply that our character is divine, like a god or fate. If we pollute our values and thoughts, a toxic mentality will control and derail our lives. Epictetus thus tells us to devotedly care for our minds and reasoning instead of dwelling on how the world treats us. Merely complaining about our situation and placing blame on others cause misery and failure.

7. Master your relationships and cooperation with others.

Stoicism holds that its principles can guide people in handling their friendships, families, and marriages. Indeed, as shown throughout this article, Stoicism is highly practical. Roman Stoics emphasized that people should link their interests to benefit others in society. This way, we will adhere to nature and contribute to the community, guaranteeing our happiness and peace despite the chaos around us.

Hierocles is well-known for his Stoic ethical manual popular among the Roman elite. He stated that people first think of their survival and personal gain in his book. But it is virtuous to fit our wants to what can help our fellow people in society. We satisfy both our rational, personal desires and the societal, natural order by appropriating these interests. We also bring our friends, loved ones, fellow citizens, and even foreigners closer because we think of their welfare and needs. Remember that we are all connected; hence, we must collaborate and build ourselves up.

8. Contribute to society.

Because Stoic philosophers emphasized our connection and shared interests, they advised people to do their part to improve the community. Seneca taught that we should want to benefit other people and search for ways to help. Years later, Marcus Aurelius would meditate on pursuing the common good. He remembers that he must cooperate with terrible people in government so that he could focus on virtue and the tasks at hand. After all, he believes that nature made people work together.

9. Resist temptations that can hinder progress.

Stoics do not focus on perfection. Instead, they believe that we must strive to improve and progress constantly. We must master our duties and tasks despite the challenges, temptations, and problems. By doing so, we can both complete our responsibilities and work on our skills. Striving for improvement also helps us learn from our mistakes, leave behind harmful thoughts, and maintain virtue.

Stoic philosophers admit that perfection is impossible. However, one can find stability and peace when we focus on our progress and recognize each step as we advance. We can turn problems into an occasion to prove our character and beliefs. Stoicism emphasizes deeds over verbal arguments—you should reflect on and correct your misdeeds and faults instead of looking at others.

Epictetus and Aulus Gellius said that Stoicism is a philosophy of persistence and resistance. These values, they declared, can bring lasting solace and morality to a person’s life. We should be brave to do what is righteous and live with self-control to stay away from sins. Ultimately, these will lead people to true freedom—and you can learn it quickly here!

This article has shown you Stoicism’s history, teachings, and practices. You can read more about this practical philosophy in our related articles. However, practicing a Stoic lifestyle has drawbacks in this life full of temptations and vices. So you can read its philosophy’s advice on anger control, meditations, and Stoic exercises.

Dave P
Dave P
Be a little better today than yesterday.


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