A person who periodically experiences minor discomforts will grow confident that he can withstand major discomforts as well, so the prospect of experiencing such discomforts at some future time will not, at present, be a source of anxiety for him. We are, he says, the only ones who can stop ourselves from attaining goodness and integrity.
Indeed, the Stoics value highly their ability to enjoy ordinary life—and indeed, their ability to find sources of delight even when living in primitive conditions. We might, for example, make a point of passing up an opportunity to drink wine—not because we fear becoming an alcoholic but so we can learn self-control.
Other signs of progress, says Epictetus, are the following: What the Stoics were advocating, then, is more appropriately described as a program of voluntary discomfort than as a program of self-inflicted discomfort. Another benefit of undertaking acts of voluntary discomfort is that it helps us appreciate what we already have.
Old age, Seneca argues, has its benefits: Consequently, before we try to win the admiration of these other people, we should stop to ask whether their notion of success is compatible with ours. Notice that the advice that we be fatalistic with respect to the past and the present is consistent with the advice, offered in the preceding chapter, that we not concern ourselves with things over which we have no control.
Join 47,227 other people and receive book summaries and productivity advice every week. We will find that we are experiencing a degree of tranquility that our life previously lacked. It is therefore a response that is likely to deeply frustrate the insulter. Although it might not be possible to eliminate grief from our life, it is possible, Seneca thinks, to take steps to minimize the amount of grief we experience over the course of a lifetime.
Among them were philosophy books purchased in Athens.
It promised not just life after death but an afterlife in which one would be infinitely satisfied for an eternity. Furthermore, they did not inflict these discomforts to punish themselves; rather, they did it to increase their enjoyment of life.
Indeed, Epictetus thinks the admiration of other people is a negative barometer of our progress as Stoics: Since it was not his goal to win the match, he will not have failed to attain his goal, as long as he played his best.
We will also, they say, experience fewer negative emotions, such as anger, grief, disappointment, and anxiety, and because of this we will enjoy a degree of tranquility that previously would have been unattainable. You would do well, I think, to keep it a secret that you are a practicing Stoic. As Roman emperors go, Marcus was exceptionally good.
The Stoics work hard to avoid falling victim to this kind of connoisseurship. Goals Happiness Motivation Stoicism. What is interesting is that despite their determinism, despite their belief that whatever happened had to happen, the ancients were not fatalistic about the future.
But we will also discover that they are the cause of most of the negative emotions we experience. It is the philosophy of the ancient Stoics.
By allowing ourselves to get angry over little things, we take what might have been a barely noticeable disruption of our day and transform it into a tranquility-shattering state of agitation. Those who have lived without a coherent philosophy of life, though, will desperately want to delay death. We have it entirely within our power, for example, to prevent viciousness and cupidity from finding a home in our soul.