"Remember, some things depend on you and others don't"

What does it mean to be stoic?.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 March 2023 Thursday 16:24
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"Remember, some things depend on you and others don't"

What does it mean to be stoic?

It is a philosophy of life whose objective is to become a better person.


Practicing the cardinal virtues: your courage, your sense of justice, your temperance and your practical wisdom, and you do it because you want to be useful within the human cosmopolis.

Stoick sounds like stamina.

He's right, Stoics is associated with going through life in a slightly stiff manner, trying to suppress emotions à la Spock from Star Trek, but in reality Stoics try to get through problems instead of complaining.

The complaint is exhausting and useless.

The Stoics do not seek to suppress emotions, but to speak to them. Let's say that they are insulting me on social networks; the normal thing is to react, but a stoic would say: why am I upset? In fact, an insult only works if I conceive it, better ignore it.

Do we all need a mini-Socrates in our lives?

It would be great. Stoics believe that we need role models to follow, in my case it is my grandfather, one of the nicest and most ethical people I have come across, so I always wonder what he would do in this situation.

What was essential to you?

Treat others fairly and with respect, as you would like to be treated, a principle found in all ethical traditions.

How to thrive in a world that is out of our control?

Epictetus started out as a slave, he had no control over his life. At the beginning of the 2nd century he was already free and created the most important school of philosophy of his time.

And what did he pass on to his students?

What he called the fundamental rule of life is that some things depend on us and others do not. Do the best you can with what does depend on you and develop an attitude of acceptance and serenity with what does not depend on you.

How to cultivate character?

Socrates asked himself that same question and answered that character is a skill just like playing music: it can be learned, and for that you need a good teacher, a bit of theory and, above all, practice and practice. The same is true of virtue, according to Socrates.

How is virtue practiced?

The most important thing is to decide on the appropriate behavior and repeat it over and over again until it becomes second nature.

For example?

If I think that I am not generous, I can practice deciding to distribute the change daily among the homeless. If you insist, it will become second nature.

We tend to think we are better than we are.

Yes, ha ha ha, it's true, that's why self-reflection is basic. Me, every night before going to bed I spend ten minutes writing in my philosophical notebook.

And what does he write?

I ask myself three questions: what have I done well, what have I done wrong, and if something like this happens again, what can I improve. That exercise on a daily basis helps you discover your own flaws.

In which mirror do you look?

As it is true that we tend to be too indulgent with ourselves, I have friends with whom we analyze our behavior, it is what you would do with a psychoanalyst.

Virtue and politics don't seem to get along.

We live in very Machiavellian times in which virtue is the opposite of politics.

Plato said that democracy has a tendency to become tyranny.

In recent years in the United States we have been very close. Remember that Plato recommended direct governance by the people and warned us of what would happen if democracy turned populist.

It seems that is what we are seeing.

Populism is demagogic and dangerous. The best answer is more political reflection, more thinking, more philosophy, and a greater ability to consider what the problems are and what alternatives we have.

What virtues does the human of the 21st century lack?

We lack self-criticism.

What is your catchphrase?

Epictetus's: remember, some things depend on you and others don't.

As long as it doesn't become meek.

I think it makes us reasonable. The Stoics have practical self-deprivation exercises. I really like wine and sometimes I propose two weeks of abstinence; or if it is very cold, I do not cover myself too much.

Why punish yourself?

The goal is to remind yourself that it's okay to deprive yourself of certain things. The prize is temperance.