Stoicism 101: What Is it and Why Does Matter?

Did you know that stoicism originated way back in the third century BC? That means it is even older than Christianity. In fact, certain aspects of stoic philosophy survive in the Christian teachings that they inspired!

Of course, not everybody is as familiar with stoicism as they are with Christianity. Some people have a superficial understanding of stoicism and misunderstand its essential teachings.

If more people properly understood stoicism, more of them would be attracted to it and benefit from applying its insights. So what exactly does the stoic system have to offer people in the modern-day?

Read on to learn all about stoicism and the benefits that it brings to its practitioners!

What Is Stoicism?

Stoicism was a school of philosophy founded in ancient Athens. It takes its name from a porch, the Stoa Poikile. This porch featured mural paintings and was the location where the first lectures on stoicism occurred.

Stoicism took off in ancient Athens and influenced many of the greatest leaders of the time. Some of its most famous practitioners are Epictetus and the emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Stoicism has certain similarities to Buddhism. It suggests a way of finding a happy life through the pursuit of virtue and mental preparation.

Stoicism outlines many qualities which it considers to be virtues. These include knowledge, wisdom, and reason. On top of that, socialism teaches the importance of acknowledging the difficulties of life and being prepared to meet them without flinching.

The influence of stoicism also existed in the character and personalities of great leaders many centuries later. George Washington, Michel de Montaigne, and John Stuart Mill were all stoics.

In the business world, Steve Jobs and John Rockefeller used stoic wisdom to guide their own decision-making as well.

What was it that all of these leaders saw in stoicism? How can it help people to reach their potential and live happy lives? The answers to these questions are why you should learn about stoicism.

Efficiency

Stoicism places a lot of emphasis on the fact that many things may go wrong in life. Life is unpredictable, and at the end of the day, life is short. Stoics teach that it is essential to avoid wasting time on pointless activities.

Stoicism points out that many debates are more like contests of dominance than they are like real searches for understanding or truth. As such, a good stoic must be prepared to ask themselves the following question.

“Is this argument actually going to benefit my life in some way?” In so many cases, the answer is clearly no. Stoicism teaches that it is better to avoid such wastes of time and focus on doing the right thing.

When it comes to doing the right thing, stoicism teaches that it is important to focus on the present moment. Many times, we get caught up thinking about how we wish something had ended up, or how we hope the future will end up. All of this distracts us from doing the right thing in the moment.

Additionally, stoicism teaches the importance of patience. We must not become frustrated when our efforts do not immediately create great things. Instead, we must be prepared for the hard truth.

Creating great things can take time and effort. As long as we do the right thing in the moment, we can achieve great things, but we must not be distracted by how long it takes or how things might go wrong.

Self Control

Stoicism identified many ways that people end up wasting away the days of their lives. One of the most common human experiences is doing something that feels good in the moment even knowing that it will not be good in the long term. Learning to manage this single problem can pay off in every area of life many times over.

For this reason, stoicism teaches the importance of self-control. We must not allow our feelings to overwhelm our rational analysis. When we know that a choice is bad for us, we must not be persuaded to do it anyway by our impulses and feelings.

Preparation for the Difficult Moments in Life

Life often brings difficult times. A good Stoicism course teaches that it is important not to be bothered by things that we cannot influence.

Stoicism also teaches the importance of mentally preparing ourselves for when things might go wrong. It is often because bad things catch us off-guard that they hurt us especially much. If we already expected that a bad thing might happen, and prepared ourselves for its occurrence, then if it does happen, it will not bother us as much.

Therefore, the best stoicism courses teach the practice of expecting those bad things that might happen. When we face our fears and prepare for them, we will be able to meet them better. We will be able to focus on doing the right thing and not being distracted by anything else.

Resilience After Hard Times

In the aftermath of hard times, some people take a long time to rest and recuperate. One thing you should learn about stoicism is that it teaches that the harm of past events is in the mind.

If you do not feel that you have been harmed, then you have not been. This was one of the teachings of Marcus Aurelius.

Stoicism always looks for the opportunity hidden in obstacles. If you have lost your job, then that is an opportunity to find a new one or to start a business.

Obstacles are the opportunities for people to display greatness. Without them, nothing truly great can happen. Being prepared to make the most of difficulties is one of the great benefits of stoicism.

Enjoy All of the Benefits of Stoicism

We hope that you were able to take away something useful from this brief article on some of the benefits of stoicism and its related philosophy. There is a reason that stoicism is still popular today after such a long time. Stoicism has withstood the test of time and benefited an incredible number of people over an incredibly long period of time.

To learn more about stoicism and how you can apply it to problems in the modern-day context, check out this course on how to be a stoic!

How to Be a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for a Happier Life

If you want to learn how Stoicism can improve your life, check out our four-week live course, How to Be a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for a Happier Life. It includes live lectures and guided group discussions with a leading Stoic scholar. But be quick: there are only 30 spots available.