Stoicism is in every sense a European life philosophy. The Stoic school of philosophy theorized that our happiness comes from living a virtuous life. Physical pleasure is not necessary, or even desirable, and is detrimental to the well-being and a healthy state of mind. Living in accordance with the laws of nature will allow the reader to elevate themselves to a higher moral state. Nature was simply a manifestation of the gods. It states that nothing in life is pre-ordained or decided for us and that we should accept what happens to us without protest. A persons’ behavior was the greatest way of inferring their life philosophy and belief, not their words. Whatever we received in life we should accept and find peace in it. The Stoic is one who can endure and persevere against pain or hardship without complaint or damage. They implore the student to live as honourable and simply as possible. The central tenant or theme of the philosophy is to make the pupil strive for a higher state of moral standard and quality. Those who occupy the highest scale of virtue will be in the greatest state of happiness.
Nobody can make you a Stoic. Philosophy does not come to the lazy and the weak. It must be found from within ones-self and cultivated relentlessly until it has been obtained. You must dedicate all of your time to becoming one and being obdurately resilient as one thereafter. You cannot waver in your endurance or your strength. Enduring your pains, overcoming your weaknesses, banishing your fears, exerting all of your energy towards your goals and ultimately accepting death is the way of the Stoic.
One of the most important concepts in Stoicism is to practice what you preach. You must never retreat from your lifestyle of moderation and simplicity. It serves nobody any purpose to give them advice and then do the opposite. A teacher is worthless if they cannot learn themselves. A drunk preaching the morality of temperance is worthless.
“That kind of man can be of no more help to me as an instructor than a steersman who is seasick in a storm.”
Complete abstinence from the world of vice is crucial in being a Stoic and a good European. If you can enjoy something and still be completely confident that you have upheld your virtue and your personal honour then and afterwards, then you have succeeded in being a Stoic. After all, attaining and preserving your philosophical worldview is the ultimate objective. Once you have done so, it is your duty to protect and uphold it. If you do so, you have resisted the darkness and kept your name. The darkness that has been clawing at our throats for the past 2,000 years and has dragged down so many. You do not have to abandon what you believe in to enjoy life but you must be careful to not loosen this control over yourself.
“If you shape your life according to nature, you will never be poor; if according to people’s opinions, you will never be rich.”
– Seneca from Epicurus
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
– Marcus Aurelius
One can still minimally pursue pleasure without absconding their personal virtue or beliefs. To me, pleasures are a distraction from fulfilling my personal morals. That is not say I completely shun and condemn them; I have learned to place less value on them. I set limits on the things I want to do and take pleasure in and have no cravings for them afterwards. Indulging is to completely submit and reveal one’s weakness. A Stoic derives just as much contentness from if he didn’t have what he does have. He only satisfies his most basic needs and is perfectly content in doing so. He never desires more than that.
“The wise man is content with himself.”
It means not smoking, not drinking, no drugs, no masturbation, no meaningless sex, not pursuing or caring about wealth and pleasure, controlling your emotions and not having more than you need. You must resist all urges you may have and placate them to the point where they no longer exist. You must find pleasure in the things that you will never be deprived of. Cravings should be eliminated by abstaining from them. Once the body and the mind has become accustomed to doing so, you will no longer have any desire for any decadent pleasures. If you can do this consistently, eventually you will not have any urges and only healthy habits.
Wealth is a means of slavery. The man who only cares for wealth and greed is no man but a slave. He has substituted simplicity for abundance, excess, extravagance, avarice and stupidity.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
To be a Stoic is to live in harmony with Mother Nature’s eternal law. It is to embrace a simple way of life and how we have been decreed by nature to do. Enduring pain, avoiding indulgences, cheerfully accepting death, being careless of the thoughts and actions of others, upholding truthfulness and scorning hypocrisy are all steps along the path. We must replace the Judeo-Christian darkness of vice, apathy, greed, avarice, lustfulness, egotism, nihilism and self-gratification with the timeless principles of honour, courage, bravery, heroism, selflessness and discipline. By doing so, we can live long, honourable, and fulfilling lives as was intended for us by the eternity of the universe.
Stoic (alias European) characteristics and beliefs:
– Accepting death
Judeo-Christian characteristics and beliefs:
– Fear of death
Important Stoic principles as compiled by me (in no particular order):
I: When you intend to complete or achieve a goal, do so with your full determination and mighty will. You will complete it if you do not waver from this.
II: When we are impeded or hindered we should not blame others. We only have ourselves to blame. Only the foolish blame others; The wise blames himself for his failures; The wisest blame neither themselves nor others.
III: When trying to accomplish a major objective, do not be distracted by anything unnecessary or petty.
IV: Do not wish things upon yourself that are not possible. Be content with what happens to you. Be content with what you possess.
V: You are only encumbered or impeded if you think so. If you view something that is bad as truly bad, then it is. Your will is only diminished if you think it is. Your physical ailments mean nothing unless you think otherwise.
VI: Turn your weaknesses into your strengths.
VII: We do not have control over what happens to us in life. We cannot pick the life we want to live. Accept what your fate is and be content with what you have.
VIII: Do not be insulted by others. Only you are validating their insults in your mind. They only have meaning if your own opinion thinks so. When you pay no attention to the insults you become stronger.
IX: If you do something that you do not fundamentally believe in to please somebody else, you have lost your meaning in life. Do not conform. If you wish to provide philosophical enlightenment to someone else and consider yourself a philosopher, then you shall be one.
X: Do not indulge in any vices or pleasures without delay or contemplation. Try to abstain from them. The results will be greater when you exercise your restraint. If you think it is reasonable under rare circumstances to enjoy them, do not let them consume you. Return to abstinence afterwards and reflect. To resist them completely is victory.
XI: Lives of dependency and wealth are the most troublesome.
XII: The virtuous and honourable life is the highest.
XIII: Those who have will are free.
XIV: Greed and wealth weaken the body while discipline and learning strengthen it.
XV: Be grateful for what you already have and do not ask for what you cannot have.
XVI: You should be troubled in the mind if you do not contribute anything of intelligence to other men.
XVII: Richness comes from luck and should not be depended on nor desired. Happiness comes from your will and your own power.
XVIII: Do not envy the possessions of the rich but despise their immoral and repugnant character.
XIX: Moderation, frugality and restraint are superior to extravagance, luxury and excess.
XX: The truth will always prevail over false and ignorant opinions.
XXI You can never be defeated if you seek the truth.
XXII: Those who have wisdom and are free of mind should not be associated with those dregs who don’t.
XXIII: Self-gratification is inferior to generosity, gentleness and self-efficacy.
XXIV: Pleasures lose their purpose if indulged in too often.
XXV: Your judgments will not be false if your will is strong.
XXVI: Live your principles and prove them in your everyday life.
XXVII: Work for your keep and be modest in it.
XXVIII: Speak with reason and sparingly.
XXIX: Noble citizens living noble and moral lives are greater than reprobates living lives of luxury and dormancy.
XXX: Do not be surprised by the idiocy of the masses.
XXXI: Pay off your debts as quickly as possible.
XL: Just as the Sun does not need encouragement or applause to provide it’s splendor, do not demand or expect praise to provide your good actions and honour.
L: Morality is superior to wealth. Wealth corrupts and reduces men to pleasure and excess.
LX: Think before you act. You cannot revoke what has already been done.
LXX: To inspire or urge someone is better than reproving them. When you reprove them you are convicting their wrongs.
LXXX: The wise honourably resist pleasures and urges while the foolish and degenerate embrace them.
XC: You cannot be free if you cannot control yourself.
C: Your best way of attacking your enemies is to live the best you can. They despise this and will be tormented by it.
CI: Living contently is albeit short but the one with most satisfaction and delight.
CL: Knowledge is perpetual and superior to wealth.
CC: Learning is beautiful.
CCC: It is unreasonable to believe that things happen for no reason.
CD: Just because you associate with certain people does not automatically confer upon you their characteristics or wisdom. You do.
D: Do not stray from your knowledge nor converse with those who do not have similar wisdom.
DC: Wealth does not come from money. Richness is contentness.
DCC: Your life essence is more important than your body.
DCCC: Our troubles are only as severe as our opinions of them.
“For no one is worthy of a god unless he has paid no heed to riches.”
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
– Marcus Aurelius
“No evil is honorable; but death is honorable; therefore death is not evil.”
– Zeno of Citium
“He needs little who desires but little.”
“Living virtuously is equal to living in accordance with one’s experience of the actual course of nature.”
“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.”
– Zeno of Citium
“I know, Lucilius, that no one can lead a happy life, or even one that is bearable, without the pursuit of wisdom, and that the perfection of wisdom is what makes the happy life…”
“Philosophy has no business in supplying vice with excuses; a sick man who is encouraged to live in a reckless manner by his doctor has not a hope of getting well.”
“In a single day there lies open to men of learning more than there ever does to the unenlightened in the longest of lifetimes.”