I am a pretty anxious person. I started studying philosophy trying to find a way to cope with it. Anxiety is not anything new, so every era has some wisdom to share on the subject. Stoicism started to appeal to me early during adolescence.
My interest in Stoicism began when I was reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. It affected me in ways that I couldn’t imagine.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
“Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.”
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
Those are just some of my favorite quotes from the book, and as someone who is usually filled with internal struggles, I find these reminders extremely helpful and comforting.
There a lot of misconceptions about Stoicism promoting “emotionless apathy,” but that is not the case. Stoicism, if I had to distil it down to a sentence, is “Control what you can control, and accept what you can’t.”
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
My favorite aspect of Stoicism is its practicality. You can apply the teachings of a Stoic author to your life and you will notice changes. It shares similar qualities to the modern Mindfulness movement and Zen Buddhism.
Stoicism has helped me through some rough periods in my life. I read a lot of articles, watch shows, and hear broadcasts advocating that the true source of people’s unhappiness is some outside force, but that isn’t true. We can choose to be happy, all we need is some encouragement and I think Marcus Aurelius did a great job of encouraging himself so maybe his writings can help encourage you too.
You can read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, in full, for free (legally), HERE.
What philosophy has helped you the most throughout your life? Please comment your thoughts.
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