Among most people, Stoicism is either unknown or misunderstood. This summary seeks to restore Stoicism to its rightful place as a tool in the pursuit of self-mastery, perseverance, and wisdom: something one uses to live a great life, rather than some esoteric field of academic inquiry. The philosophy asserts that virtue (meaning the virtues of self-control, courage, justice and wisdom) is happiness, and it is our perceptions of things – rather than the things themselves – that cause most of our trouble.
Stoicism teaches that we can’t control or rely on anything outside our “reasoned choice” – our ability to use our reason to choose how we categorize, respond, and reorient ourselves to external events. There are three critical disciplines: Perception (how we see and perceive the world around us), Action (the decisions and actions we take – and to what end), and Will (how we deal with the things we cannot change, attain clear and convincing judgment, and come to a true understanding of our place in the world).
Whatever you’re going through, Stoicism can help.
Part 1 – The Discipline of Perception
January – Clarity
The single most important practice in Stoic philosophy is differentiating between what we can change and what we can’t. If we can focus on making clear what parts of our day are within our control and what parts are not, we will not only be happier, we will have a distinct advantage over other people who fail to realize they are fighting an unwinnable battle.
Carry these reminders with you every day, in every decision: Control your perceptions. Direct your actions properly. Willingly accept what’s outside your control. Get clarity about who you are and what you stand for.
Serenity and stability are results of your choices and judgment, not your environment. If you seek to avoid all disruptions to tranquility – other people, external events, stress – you will never be successful. Your problems will follow you wherever you hide. But if you seek to avoid the harmful and disruptive judgments that cause those problems, then you will be stable and steady wherever you happen to be.