STOICISM for MODERN MEN

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Challenges

Stoicism for Modern Men

@BowTiedBarbary

Inspired by @BowTiedMonk @BowTiedBreath


From Plato and Aristotle to Marcus Aurelius and General Patton, Stoicism is a misunderstood philosophy with roots in Ancient Greece and beyond.

Definition: 

Stoicism is a set of guidelines to find peace, presence, and purpose in our mortal existences. Stoicism maximizes one’s gratitude and appreciation for life through value-based principles, mindfulness exercises, and meditation. 

Stoicism derived from people sitting alone with their thoughts for hours, days, weeks, and years.


Remember this above all else: SERENITY PRAYER

Layman’s Explanation for Stoicism→ 

Introduced by Christian philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr and popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous…

“God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”


Eight Common Principles of Stoics throughout History

There is no written agreement in regards to what is stoicism and what is NOT. Stoicism is a mindset born out of the application of principles. Below is a list of recurring principles shared among Stoics throughout history.

Morality → Live life in accordance with the forces of Nature, guided by virtue.

  1. Nature is Rational

    1. There is a higher logic behind everything even if man cannot comprehend it.

  2. Universe is governed by Law of Reason 

    1. All thoughts and energies are connected. There is reason everywhere.

  3. Virtue

    1. Do not resist or fight the rational nature of the universe.

  4. Wisdom

    1. Collective knowledge of mankind provides tools to live virtuously

  5. Apathea

    1. Passion is irrational and limitless desire should be restrained.

  6. Pleasure

    1. Pleasure is not good nor bad.

  7. Evil

    1. External forces are not good nor bad: War, death, disease, and suffering.

  8. Duty

    1. Virtue is the means to self-actualization. Virtue is not for the sake of virtue.


Four Tenets of Stoicism

Continue reading for a breakdown of the 4 core tenets of stoicism.

  1. Wisdom

  1. Justice

  1. Courage

  1. Temperance


WISDOM

Quote: 

  • “The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own” - Epictetus

Layman’s Terms →

  • Wisdom is identifying the boundary between the external and internal.

  • Recognize the difference between what you control and what you cannot control. 

Example →

  • “Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you respond.”

  • COVID-19 may be the result of China, or bats, or Dr. Fauci, or God. You cannot control mankind’s response to COVID; you, however, control how you adapt to the chaos.


JUSTICE

Quote: 

  • “For there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked.”

  • “What is not good for the beehive, cannot be good for the bees.” - Marcus Aurelius

Layman’s Terms →

  • Truth will set you free. Relentless pursuit of the truth will set you free. Retain the humility to ponder you might be wrong as you are human and mortal. Logic and reason permeate the universe yet man is limited in perception.

  • Justice is a duty to your fellow man.

Example →

  • Anything that inflicts harm or injury on another man as men are motivated to harm in pursuit of what they desire. Injustice is born out of desire and lack of virtue.


COURAGE

Quote:

  • “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live” 

- Marcus Aurelius

  • “Circumstances do not make the man. They reveal him to himself” - Epictetus

Layman’s Terms →

  • Courage is not a lack of fear. Courage is persisting despite fear.

  • Courage is standing by your principles and having skin in the game despite the threat of harm, misfortunate, or death.

Example →

  • In business, your competitor gains an advantage by defrauding clients and partners. Despite the desire to win, you stand by your principle of virtue.

  • To live is to face adversity in some form or another.


TEMPERANCE

Quote:

“He who craves riches feels fear on his account. No man, however, enjoys a blessing that brings anxiety; he is always trying to add a little more. While he puzzles over his increasing wealth, he forgets how to use it.” - Seneca

Layman’s Terms →

  • Do not let your happiness derive from temporary pleasures nor your suffering derive from temporary pains.

  • Seek what is essential and pursue what is enough.

Example →

  • Money does NOT buy happiness. Money buys the freedom of time and physical preoccupation with pursuing base human needs. What you do with your liberated time is the root of contentment.

  • Most of our thoughts and actions are not essential. Relentless pursuit of money, women, and power may come at the expense of forging bonds with family, pursuing your deepest passions, and connecting with the world around you.


FURTHER READING

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

Rome’s Last Citizen by Rob Goodman

Black Swan by Nisssam Taleb

The Handbook and Discourses of Epictetus

Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius


TWITTER ACCOUNTS

@ketoaurelius

@dailystoic

@TheStoicEmperor

@TheStoicGym

@DonJRobertson

@mpigliucci


Memento Mori,

@BowTiedBarbary