Some Basic Stoic Ideas

I thought it might be helpful to give the basics of Stoicism.

Stoicism can be briefly defined as a program for achieving a tranquil life that finds value in adversity, promotes the use of reason to overcome emotion (because reason is the attribute particular to man), teaches the unimportance of external events, advocates moderation in all things, and views death as a solution, transition or end, since life after death is unknowable

In outline form, here are the highlights:

The goal is to lead a tranquil life

Reason is the way to achieve the goal of tranquility: using reason, we can understand the following:

There are things over which we can have no control; thinking about those things is pointless thinking. Those things include anything in the past, many things going on around us now, and much of the future.

Negative emotions and excessive emotions are harmful.

 Events that we might interpret as bad can be put into context and be made less painful.

Dwelling on the past or living on anticipation and hopes is pointless thinking and hinders our ability to live right now and enjoy what we have.

 Things can always be worse.

The outside world, such as the good opinion of others and notoriety are unimportant. And in any event, other people and their views are mostly out of our control.

Take stock of what you have and avoid liking best what you have given up or lost.

Counter arguments to a common notion of Stoics as unemotional and glum, unable to relish the joys of life:

            True about unemotional, if emotional means trembling with anger, overcome with disgust, weighed by nostalgia, frantically hopeful about an outcome, or over the top with a joy that will soon burst.  All of that is conducive to misery, serves no useful purpose, and makes the individual tiresome to be around.  The key is not to be excessive because carried too far a good thing becomes a bad one—like too much sugar cloying.

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