How Ancient Roman Stoicism is Changing Modern Lives for Better

modern_stoicismA useful overview of the Stoicism movement currently building momentum across the world, by Sarah Berry:

Stoicism encourages us to carry out thought experiments on ourselves so that we are not held captive to our comfort zone and enables us to practice courage in the face of change.

“Stoicism is not a set of ethics or principles. It’s a collection of spiritual exercises designed to help people through the difficulties of life. To focus on managing emotion, specifically non-helpful emotion,” explains Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle Is the Way

The Four-Hour Body author, Tim Ferris uses the philosophy to address his own fears of poverty, regularly conducting lifestyle experiments such as wearing the same white T-shirt and pants for weeks in a row, have periods of living modestly (rice and beans, about $3 a day) and fasting once a week.

“It’s inoculating yourself against unfounded fears,” Ferris says. “When I find myself defensive, fearful of losing whatever success or money or prestige or status… they’re usually nebulous. You worry that your quality of life will drop, you’ll be very unhappy, but if you rehearse that condition – the worst-case scenario – you realize it’s not that bad and that’s tremendously empowering.”

“Stoicism allows you to make better investment decisions,” Ferriss says. “It allows you to take the steps to start your own company, start a relationship, end a relationship – because you are rehearsing the worst-case scenarios instead of letting them bounce around your head in a very unformed, nebulous way.”

Four quotes from  the seminal Stoic philosopher Seneca:

“There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us. We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”

“No prizefighter can go with high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue. The only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who has seen own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his opponent’s fists, who has been tripped and felt the full force of his adversary’s charge, who has been downed in body, but not in spirit, one who, as often as he falls, rises again with greater defiance than ever.”

“Let us become intimate with poverty so that fortune may not catch us off our guard. We shall be rich with all the more comfort if we learn how far poverty is from being a burden.”

“When you challenge yourself by living without luxuries or indulgences, say to yourself: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’ The soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress. It is while fortune is kind that it should fortify itself against its violence.”

The full article is here.