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Stoicism: What you can learn from the ancient philosophy of life of the Stoa

Stoicism: What you can learn from the ancient philosophy of life of the Stoa

Everyone wishes for happiness, satisfaction and more serenity in everyday life, but external factors often ensure that we inevitably lose our calm. Things we have no control over - or do we?


Especially top performers in all areas such as sport, politics, business and in public where the Stress and the pressure to perform is incredibly high, deal with this ancient philosophy. With his works “the Daily Stoic”, “the Obstacle ist the Way” and “Ego is the Enemy”, Ryan Holiday was able to make the philosophy in Silicon Valley very popular with entrepreneurs. Why does the philosophy of the Stoa have such a great influence on us to this day? Why should we learn from stoics in order to raise the quality of life and performance potential to a new level? You can find out all of this here.

Im So, it is about that you always try to strive for the optimum and get the best out of yourself and your everyday life. Far too often external factors come up to us that often make life difficult for us and throw us off track. Often we feel powerless and at the mercy, but have we really lost all control? The answer is: no!

In stoic philosophy it was recognized early on that we have no influence on what is happening, but that we do have an influence on how we view these things.

If, with sufficient practice, we are able to control ourselves and not react with negative emotions to situations but act with logic and reason, we have control and freedom back over ourselves.

If you want to be more satisfied, relaxed and focused in everyday life, the philosophy of the Stoa, also called stoicism, could help you. 

Stoa / Stoicism: What is it actually?

You probably know the expression “stoic”, which is often translated as indifferent or unemotional. Stoa is much more than that, however. The term Stoa describes a Hellenistic branch of philosophy that was founded in Athens around 300 BC and existed for more than 500 years.

Stoa (Greek στοὰ ποικίλη, "colorful vestibule") can be traced back to a pillared hall that stood on the market square in Athens, the so-called agora. Here Zeno of Kition began his activity as a Hellenistic philosopher 300 BC. Zeno of Kition - son of a wealthy merchant, is considered the founder of the Stoa. When he came to Athens in his day, however, he was far from rich. He was completely destitute because he had previously lost his belongings.

For eleven years he studied numerous philosophical works, sought dialogue with other people in the Agora and passed on his personal views to others in the Stoa. So-called stoics - representatives of the stoic philosophy of life - enjoy great respect to this day. Roman Stoics, including Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the two philosophers Epiktet and Seneca, are among the most famous representatives of the Stoa.

In addition, many other philosophers and politicians, above all Friedrich Nietzsche, René Decartes and Immanuel Kant, knew how to use the Stoic philosophy of life for themselves. Even in cognitive behavioral therapy, the elements of the Stoa can be found, such as those practiced by Albert Ellis and still taught by the two psychotherapists Aaron T. Beck and Donald Meichenbaum.

As a result, the Stoa has never been forgotten. On the contrary: Even today, in an often stressful, fast-paced time, one is again aware of the importance of this age-old philosophy of life.

Stoic Marcus Aurelius

Blooming With Stoa: Why Stoics Are Different

Stoics strive for virtue and permanent development. But how do stoics actually manage to be in harmony with themselves and their environment on a daily basis?

In addition to striving to be virtuous and free, Stoics have an important goal: Eudaimonía. Eudaimonía (εὐδαιμονία) means to lead a constantly happy and content life that knows no greed, no hatred, no anger and no materialism.

Because a core idea is that external, material things cannot solve internal conflicts or bring happiness in life.

It is important to adapt to the natural rhythm of the universe (oikeiō sis), which we also know, for example, as the circadian rhythm or biorhythm.

To recognize that reality has its own dynamic and to concentrate on the things, the outcome of which can be influenced, shows clarity. At the same time, you should turn away from things whose outcome you cannot influence at this point in time. The clearer and more focused you are, the better you can perform in a wide variety of situations.

For stoics, there is another basic principle called ataraxia. Ataraxia means the ideal of calmness of mind. It describes a state of calm in order to face problems and strokes of fate more calmly and calmly, instead of being sad, angry, stressed or angry or even fainting.

Of course there are always moments that can hit you particularly well. You can't just turn emotions off, but with practice you can name the emotions and include them in your thought processes. In this way, you often avoid emotional conclusions that do not always follow logic.

 

How do stoics achieve their goal?

In general, Stoics strive to be virtuous and free. Like biohackers, they want to keep developing, integrating four principles into their lives that they practice every day. These include:

1. Wisdom

Stoics believe that perception is an important skill that must be learned. We often jump to conclusions or let our emotions determine our actions. For this reason, Stoics try to face the daily problems and hurdles of everyday life with objectivity, calm and logic, rather than reacting to every little thing with stress, anger, fear or discomfort.

Marcus Aurelius, former Roman Emperor and an important representative of the Stoa, once said: “Very little is necessary for a happy life; It's all in your way of thinking. "

2. Courage

Another basic principle of then and now living Stoics is courage. In German, the word courage is translated as “courage, courage and fearlessness”. Stoics interpret courage similarly. You want to find the courage in everyday life to act clearly and prudently and to act according to your convictions.

Let yourself be convinced of alternative perspectives if they are logical and don't be afraid to express your own opinion.

3. temperament

Stoics seek freedom. According to their philosophy, however, emotions can impair this freedom. Because those who react emotionally often do not think logically, which increases the likelihood of an error. It is absolutely important to distinguish where the human being has control over the external stimulus or not. Stoics therefore practice controlling their emotions. Especially when they're angry. Stoics have found their inner center and can always react calmly and prudently without being exuberant or temperamental. 

If you find yourself angry about something, you should pause for a moment like a stoic and remember Marcus Aurelius, who once said: “You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can't control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone. "

4. Justice

Stoics attach great importance to justice, which of course does not mean practicing vigilante justice. Quite the opposite: Stoics always treat their counterparts as they would like to be treated themselves. In doing so, they do not do anything wrong to anyone, even if they feel that they have been treated unfairly.

"The best revenge is not to be like your opponent." - Marcus Aurelius.

Stoa for Biohackers: How to Become a Stoic

Granted, becoming a stoic is hard work and perseverance. As a biohacker, you know all too well that hard work and the effort to always be focused and give your best every day can pay off. But what do you have to do to become calmer and calmer and to integrate the principles of a real stoic into your everyday life?

Stoics and biohackers have one thing in common: They pursue self-determination. First of all, you have to decide for yourself what you can and want to change in your life and whether you are ready for it. The change always relates to the present. Future events are unaffected because you cannot influence them yet. But remember that you can take the first steps today that will bring you to your goal in the future.

For example, you can start exercising today in order to reach your target weight in the future.

Your influence on your soul life is also important for your quality of life - the feeling that you are present within yourself at this moment. You can definitely influence this feeling.

“It is not the things that worry us, but the opinions we have of things.” - Epictetus

Remember: life is fleeting. Instead of dealing with things that you cannot influence or change anyway, which also rob you of a lot of time and energy, you should always set yourself a new focus. Whether something is good or bad is always a matter of perspective, which as a stoic (and of course as a biohacker too) you should change frequently. Therefore, stoics always try to be aware of the good and bad effects of each situation.

We'll tell you now which exercises you can learn from stoics as a biohacker.

How exactly does a stoic practice virtue?

1. Fast and focus on the essentials

In his eighteenth letter, the Roman philosopher Seneca advised the Roman poet Lucilius: “Insert a few days when you can be content with the most meager and simple food, with coarse and rough clothing, and speak to yourself: Is that what before? one was afraid? "

The best example of putting Seneca's proposal into practice is through fasting. However, this does not just mean voluntarily giving up food. Fasting can also mean being conscious of the smartphone and Social Media to do without and to live particularly frugally. Those who fast more often learn to appreciate the things of everyday life more. This not only includes food, mobile phones and cars - we also take water, heating and electricity for granted.

The more you fast, the more the fear of certain things will disappear because you can deal better with unknown and unprecedented situations. Incidentally, this approach is very popular in psychotherapy to successfully treat anxiety disorders.

2. Train your perception

"I have always wondered why everyone loves themselves the most, but values ​​their neighbors' opinions of themselves more than their own." Marcus Aurelius

The fact is: We have countless thoughts going through our heads every day, which we usually devote far too much attention to. Most of the time we overlook the fact that we can look at certain situations from different perspectives. It is possible that in the past Stoics - like Zeno of Kition once - went to the Agora in order to deal with and study other people's thoughts.

In contrast to then, we now have so many options that we can fully exploit with the help of modern technology. Not only television offers a large selection - as modern stoics, we can also use the Internet to collect information that is important for us and to try to adopt different perspectives.

It is important to be aware of your thoughts, feelings and opinions. Only in this way can we detach ourselves from them and draw logical conclusions.

3. Remember that everything is fleeting

“Alexander the Great and his muleteers both went to the same place.” - Marcus Aurelius

Realizing that our life is fleeting helps us set priorities and focus on what is really important. You may be afraid that the years will go by and that you will get older, but these fears can help you to be focused, determined, and enjoy life to the fullest.

"Memento Mori - remember that you will die!" Is a quote from the Middle Ages that stoics may have internalized much earlier. By learning to dissolve fears, to let worries and fears slip by and to be much calmer, more relaxed and focused in everyday life, we no longer waste time doing things that do little to contribute to a happy life. Because: Anger, anger and stress are just as useless as verbal or physical confrontations with other people, bad, stressful times are just as fleeting.

Meditation, yoga, anti-stress techniques and natural plant extracts and micronutrients can also support you on your way.

Summary

Stoics, like biohackers, are people who focus on the essentials instead of doing useless things. On the one hand, this brings more calm and serenity in everyday life and helps you to sharpen your focus in order to exploit your optimal performance potential under stressful and difficult moments by not getting tired of useless activities. Stoics see the world realistically and try to get rid of emotions that can distort this perception. By remembering that our life is fleeting every day, we can prioritize important things and also focus on getting the most out of ourselves and our lives in these important areas of our lives.