Along your journey towards a more calm life you might have come across the philosophy of Stoicism and wondered what it might be and how it might relate to your own personal path.
Well, according to Wikipedia, Stoicism is…
“… a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world.”
It goes on further to say that…
“… according to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain, by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.”
In modern times, Stoicism was made popular by the writings of philosopher (and Roman Emperor from 160CE to 181CE) Marcus Aurelius but other adherents include philosophers such as Seneca and Epictetus.
In today’s language, a person who seems to just get on with life, enduring anything and everything that life throws at them without displaying too much emotion is called a “stoic” person but stoicism is much more than the random quotes that you might see on your social media feed.
The philosophy seems to have developed in parallel to Buddhism to the point that (in my opinion) Stoicism is to the West as Buddhism is to the East.
Now, there are differences between the two philosophies of course but in short, both Stoicism and Buddhism place a lot of focus on the embracing of the “here and now” and the concept of non-attachment of events and outcomes as a path to calm.
According to an article I came across recently on einzelganger.co titled 3 Similarities Between Buddhism & Stoicism, there are other similarities between the philosophies of Stoicism and Buddhism.
Most notably stated in the article is that both Buddhism and Stoicism have a set of formalised practices that need to be followed in order to reach happiness.
Buddhists have the Eightfold Path (right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation) which are designed to free ourselves from the attachment to earthly pleasures and the chatter of the monkey mind.
Stoics have the Four Virtues (wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation) which when followed help the stoic achieve a similar state of happiness and calm.
I can see how the philosophies of Stoicism and Buddhism can become interchangeable. I do draw on both philosophies from time to time depending on how I’m feeling or whatever situation I find myself in.
As my personal belief is that both Stoicism and Buddhism are tools for living and not a religion I don’t see that shifting between being a Stoic or a Buddhist would be a problem or cause cognitive dissonance.
My discovery and research into Stoicism is a relatively recent thing, mainly fuelled by Ryan Holiday and his Daily Stoic website and YouTube channel. You should check it out as Ryan would explain Stoicism infinitely better than I ever could.
In addition to everything else, I’ll be now including content on Stoicism to The Calm Life as well so watch this space.
Be still and enjoy the silence,
The Calm Life