Stoicism Part II

My previous post Stoicism Part I dealt with the overall philosophy of Stoicism. This post will cover some techniques to actualize these tenets. Since Stoicism is a philosophy of life, it must be lived and practiced.

Strategies

  • Negative visualization
  • Moderation
  • Accept Responsibility

Negative Visualization

It seems counter-intuitive to leading a happy productive life, but imaging the negative has some pretty powerful side effects. The first, and probably the most important is you realize how great everything is right now. However bad your situation is it could be worse.

The power negative situations have over you is mostly just the initial grief and panic of the unknown. If you've already pondered this unknown it can no longer shock you, and it loses almost all of it's magical abilities of control.

Imagining the negative also allows you to consider ways to mitigate the worst effects of it. If you've imagined your house burning down, perhaps you made a video of it's contents and stored them offsite for insurance purposes. If you've imagined losing your income perhaps you've socked away some emergency money. If you imagine yourself dying perhaps you put a will in place for your loved ones.

I was recently laid last year, but because I'd considered this scenario I was financially prepared to handle this. There were no negative effects. The positives were I got paid by unemployment insurance to go seek a new job, and I found one within a month with a higher salary and better perks.

Misfortune weighs most heavily on those who expect nothing but good fortune. - Epictetus

Moderation

Exercising moderation is regulation of one's self to maximize your individual freedom. We live in a time where our main problem is not whether we have enough, but whether we have too much.

Accept Responsibility

Everything that could possibly be your fault is your fault. Accepting this is a powerful agent of change in ones psyche. Instead of blaming outside circumstance for your situation, you understand that all of your decisions up to this point led you to this, and it can also lead you out of it.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” - Marcus Aurelius