Learning how to be stoic can tough without a mentor.
There is so much to know and so much confusing information out there that makes learning how to practice stoicism more of a chore rather than a positive life change.
This is why we decided to create this handbook telling you everything you need to know about stoicism.
Let’s take a look at how to be stoic.
What is Stoicism?
First and foremost, we need to take a look at what stoicism is before we can embrace it.
Stoicism is a philosophy that originated in ancient Greece.
Unlike other philosophies, stoicism is a philosophy that is based on practicality and logic rather than clever quips, and this is what made it so popular among past civilisations.
The main tenets of stoicism are realising that we have much less control over our lives than we think, accepting death, and working towards obtaining virtues like justice, courage, wisdom, and temperance.
Stoicism has helped millions of people throughout the years, and its benefits have been well-documented.
In fact, there is even a form of therapy based on stoicism called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that is used to treat depression and anxiety.
Now that we know what stoicism is, let’s dive a little deeper into the core ideas of stoicism.
Memento mori translates to “remember that you will die”.
People who are new to stoicism often find this saying to be particularly morbid, and this comes as no surprise.
Death is not talked about in our society – most of us go our entire lives trying to push thoughts of death out of our minds.
However, this may not be the correct way to live.
Accepting death and remembering that we are going to die keeps us grounded in reality.
It gives us a clearer view of the world, giving us a better idea of how it functions and how we fit in it.
Everything and everyone dies, and this is not a bad thing.
Death is just a natural event in life – there is nothing scary about something that is natural to human nature.
We are supposed to die, and fearing it serves absolutely no purpose apart from making us fearful our whole lives.
Accepting death will make you stronger, more resilient, and better.
Another key tenant of stoicism is amor fati.
Amor fati roughly translates to “a love of one’s fate”.
Similarly to accepting death, amor fati reminds us that we have very little control over our lives – so we should accept whatever happens.
However, amor fati is much more than just accepting our fate – it’s about loving our fate. This means the good and the bad.
Whatever happens to us is going to happen no matter how we feel about it.
We might as well enjoy the ride.
Even so called “bad” life events usually benefit us in some way.
Whether it be by making us grow as people or opening up new opportunities, most of the progress we make in life comes from “bad” events.
This is why amor fati is also about accepting that there is no good or bad outside of ourselves.
We cannot truly know the consequences of certain events, so to call one thing good and another bad is just misguided.
The Dichotomy of Control
As we mentioned earlier, there is very little in life that we have true control over.
The dichotomy of control teaches us what is and isn’t under our control.
Many people think they control much more in their lives than they really do.
This leads to excessive anxiety and worry, and it can also make us waste time on things that we have little influence over.
So, what is under our control?
There are only two things that we truly have control over; our actions, and our intentions.
Everything else we can only influence partially or not at all.
This means that things like our health, wealth, looks, and current life situation are mostly out of our control.
Sure, you can eat healthy to improve your health or save up money to increase your wealth, but what will you say if you get cancer or your bank collapses and you lose everything?
We may be able to influence things to a certain extent, but we do not have true control over what happens to us.
Realising that we control very little in our lives can allow us to let go, and contemplating on the dichotomy of control can help you lead a happier life.
What Are the Benefits of Adopting a Stoic Mindset?
Stoicism sounds like a sound philosophy, but what are the benefits of adopting a stoic mindset?
Well, there are many benefits that can come from embracing stoicism.
As we said before, one of the most popular treatments for anxiety, depression, as well as a plethora of other mental disorders is based on stoicism.
This is because relinquishing control and getting a better understanding of the world can make us less depressed, reduce anxiety, and increase happiness.
There are also other benefits like increased productivity – once you realise what truly matters in life, you begin to work towards the things that count.
To put it simply, stoicism will just make you a better person.
Not only will you be happier, less stressed, and more productive, but you will be of more use to those around you.
Embracing stoicism not only benefits you; it benefits the world.
Having another productive member of society who wants to make the world a better place is so important in a world where most people just do not care.
That goes without mentioning the fact that it will improve your relationships, make you more reliable, and give you the ability to handle difficult situations with a stoic mindset.
Stoicism can improve your life in so many ways, and embracing this philosophy could just be the solution to many of your problems.
Applying Stoic Principles to Life
It’s all well and good knowing what stoicism is and how it can help – but how do we actually apply stoic principles to life?
This is an excellent question, and we are going to go over some of the practical ways you can embrace stoicism here with you right now.
Practising self-awareness is crucial for developing a stoic mindset.
If you cannot accurately assess where you are now both mentally and physically, you will not know how to improve.
This is even more so the case if you willingly deceive yourself.
Being honest with yourself is the only way to grow.
Be Mindful of the Present Moment
Being mindful of the present moment might not seem like a stoic trait, but you would be surprised how important being present truly is.
Marcus Aurelius puts it best:
No one can lose either the past or the future – how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess? … It is only the present moment of which either stands to be deprived: and if this is all he has, he cannot lose what he does not have”.– Marcus Aurelius
Staying in the present can reduce fear and anxiety and allow us to focus more on the task at hand.
Learn What Is and Isn’t in Your Control
This is something we have already touched upon, but knowing what is and isn’t in your control is an entirely different thing from truly understanding this idea.
Coming to a true understanding of what we do and don’t control is something that requires active contemplation, and even then, it is going to take you a while to digest it properly.
Nevertheless; you need to learn what is and isn’t in your control and look at them in proportion to their worth.
Pay Attention to How You Spend Your Time
With the knowledge of how little we control and how fragile we are as humans, paying attention to how you spend your time is only natural if you want to embrace stoicism.
Do things that are truly important, and question whether or not you are spending your time correctly.
Seek the Truth Above All Else and Accept the World as It Is
Truth is the only thing that makes this world function properly.
Without it, everything would be chaos.
This is why you should always search for the truth and never settle for anything less.
However, you also need to accept that many people will try to deceive you, either for their own personal gain or out of ignorance.
This is just something you need to accept – it is not a bad thing; it is just the way the world works.
Tap Into Your Inner Resources
Your mind can be a fortress if you let it.
Nothing outside of you holds any sway over you, and you have everything you need to live a happy life inside of you.
Remember this when times get tough and you will never feel trapped.
Nothing is good or bad to a stoic (apart from his/her actions and motivations).
You should embrace adversity – it will make you grow as a person.
Plus, we never really know the true consequences of a certain event.
Hard times are still going to be hard, but just don’t cower from them the next time they knock at your door.
Remember That the Universe Is Change
The universe is in a state of constant change.
What’s here now will not be here in a hundred years, and what is here in a hundred years will not be here in a thousand’s years.
Contemplating the constant change that happens is one of the keys to personal growth – it will allow you to get a better understanding of the world.
Zoom Out For a Wider Perspective
Zooming out for a wider perspective can make us understand how small we are as well as how marginal all of our problems are.
Think about looking down on your town from the sky, and then zoom out to your country, and then zoom out to the entire world.
We are just one small part of a whole.
Remember Your Mortality
Remembering that we are going to die is vital for applying stoicism in real life.
This doesn’t mean that you have to go around being morbid all the time – just a quick reminder of what awaits us from time to time is all it takes to allow us to refocus and concentrate on what’s important.
Learn to Love Your Fate
Learning to love your fate can be difficult. We have spent our entire lives trying to avoid “bad” things – now all of sudden we should embrace them?
Even “bad” events usually help us in some way, and by learning to love both positive and negative events, we can become happier, stronger people.
Developing a Stoic Mindset
Developing a stoic mindset is an essential part of being stoic.
You can act like a stoic, but if you don’t think like a stoic, you will not gain the true benefits of stoicism.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can develop a stoic mindset.
1. Be Kind
If you want to develop a stoic mindset, you need to be kind to those around you.
We are inevitably going to come across people who are cruel, deceiving, or malicious even – but you should still aim to be kind to even these people.
Just because someone else is displaying bad qualities does not mean we need to replicate them.
2. Be an Eternal Student
Life is full of unknowns.
It takes a fool to think they know a good deal about life, and the more you learn, the more you find out you don’t know.
This is why you should embrace learning at every opportunity.
You should always be open to learning new things, and if you are, the impact this will have on you in the long run will be enormous.
3. Say Only What Isn’t Better Left Unsaid
Sometimes it can be all too easy to waffle on about something of little importance when we are talking to someone.
Taken to the extreme, this can even leave us agreeing things we don’t truly agree with or saying bad things about someone.
This is why you should only say what is better said than unsaid.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to stop all small talk – but if you are thinking about saying something and it doesn’t benefit the conversation, it may be a good idea to just leave it out.
4. Don’t Get Disturbed and Buy Tranquillity Instead
The world is full of irritating things.
Perhaps you split a drink on yourself, or maybe your car doesn’t start up when you really need it to.
Instead of being disturbed by events like this, seek tranquillity.
Getting irritated serves no purpose – you might as well just accept what happens and carry on with your day.
5. See the Opportunity in Challenging Situations
Embracing adversity is a common theme in stoicism, but it’s also important to actively look out for opportunity when things get tough.
As one door shuts, another one opens.
This isn’t just wishful optimism – it’s just the way the world works.
Whether it be through growing as a person or changing your life for the better in the long run, most challenging situations actually end up benefiting us in some way.
6. Choose Courage and Calm over Anger
If a situation occurs that rouses your anger, this is the perfect time to practice stoicism.
In all situations, anger is not the solution.
Even in situations where you have to defend yourself or your loved ones, anger is only going to cloud your judgement.
Instead, opt to be courageous and calm.
Do what needs to be done, but do it with a clear mind.
7. Play Your Given Cards Well
We all get dealt different cards in life.
Some of us are born relatively fortunate, while others may be born into poverty.
However, this is not in our control.
What is in our control is how we deal with it.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, practice acceptance and try to make the best of it.
8. Love Whatever Happens
Many of us have trouble facing our pasts.
Maybe we did something that we are not proud of, or perhaps we went through something that we would rather forget.
While there is no debate that some traumatic experiences that people go through are absolutely horrible, the best course of action is to accept it and even try to love it.
Whatever happened to you made you who you are.
Moreover, there are no benefits to punishing yourself for what happened in your past.
Love whatever happens to you, no matter how difficult it may be.
9. Don’t Get Played Like a Puppet
In an attempt to gain wealth, fame, or power, many of us are willing to do anything to get what we want.
However, taking this approach is going against everything that stoics stand for.
You need to realise that material things are of no importance and that the only things that do matter are your motivations and actions.
Taking this into consideration; you shouldn’t get played like a puppet.
If you have to do something you don’t agree with in order to receive some kind of benefit, don’t do it.
Nothing is worth more than your integrity.
10. Play the Equanimity Game
Whenever you find yourself in a tough situation, try to stay as indifferent as possible.
This is going to be difficult, and it is going to take some time until you can do this in all situations.
Even so; being indifferent throughout rough situations can allow us to handle them much better, and that goes without mentioning the positive mental effects that indifference will bring.
Try to view situations as if they were happening to someone else and behave accordingly.
Trying Stoic Meditations
Stoic meditation can be a useful tool to help further cement stoic ideas into our minds.
Unlike regular meditation where you focus on one subject, stoic meditation has you explore a certain concept or idea.
For example, you may meditate on the vastness of time or how small we are as individuals compared to the world.
This simply involves sitting down for a set period of time, closing your eyes, and contemplating a given stoic idea.
This is known as “taking a view from above”, and it is a practice that many stoics use to further their understanding of stoicism and the world.
Stoic meditation is not necessary to become stoic, but it can help you digest stoic ideas easier and get a clearer understanding of how the world works.
Are You Thinking About Becoming a Stoic?
If you are thinking about becoming a stoic, you are probably looking at stoicism in the wrong way.
Stoicism is not about showing everyone else how stoic you are – it is about actually putting the ideas into practice.
In fact, this is one reason why many stoic teachers tell students not to refer to themselves as stoics.
You should look at stoicism as something that helps you, not as something to boast about.
This quote puts it perfectly:
“Don’t return to philosophy as a taskmaster, but as patients seek out relief in a treatment of sore eyes, or a dressing for a burn, or from an ointment. Regarding it this way, you’ll obey reason without putting it on display and rest easy in its care.”– Marcus Aurelius
You can read every stoic book in the world, but if you go around parading that you are stoic and do not put any of the ideas into practice, then you are no more stoic than you were before.
How To Be Stoic – FAQs
How To Practice Stoicism?
To practice stoicism, you should read about stoic philosophy and apply everything you learn to your own life.
This means not regarding anything outside of your thoughts or actions as good or bad, always striving to do the right thing, and contemplating death on a regular basis.
What Does Stoic Mean?
The answer to what does stoic mean is an individual who deals well with adversity.
It can also be used as a term to describe someone who follows the philosophy of stoicism.
What is a Stoic Personality?
A stoic personality is strong, indifferent to things out of his/her control, and caring.
You can always rely on people with stoic personalities to do the right thing even when it is tough.
What Are the Stoic Rules for Life?
The stoic rules for life are to accept what happens, embrace death, and remember that nothing outside of ourselves is good or bad.
What is a Stoic Man?
A stoic man is a man that is good at handling adversity.
It could also mean a man who follows stoic philosophy.
What Does It Mean to Be a Stoic?
To be a stoic, one must be good at dealing with adversity.
It also means loving one’s fate, accepting death, realising how little we control, and trying to make the world a better place.
What Are the Four Virtues of Stoicism?
The four virtues of stoicism are courage, wisdom, justice, and temperance.
These virtues are seen as the highest good by stoics, and they believe they are the only things people should truly desire to obtain/develop.
We hope this article will be of use!
Stoicism is an incredible philosophy that has helped people lead better lives for generations, and it can help you too if you let it.
Developing a stoic personality will take some time – don’t expect to rid yourself of fear and anxiety right away. Just stick with it, and in time, you will begin to see the fruits of your labour.
If you would like more stoicism advice, feel free to take a look at the rest of the content we have on MovingForwards.
It could also be a good idea to take a peek at the stoicism Reddit too – this is where you will find a bunch of like-minded individuals who are trying to improve themselves.