Stoicism is the best philosophy ever designed by the natural world. It’s our little blue print to doing what we should be doing. Are you angry? Stoicism says, it’s ok to be initially angry as a result of a stimulus but after a few seconds of thinking about it, cut that shit out. Relax man. Turn down your angry passion. It’s silly to be that way. Same thing with fear. It’s ok to be startled, to even shake a little bit when delivering a speech in front of a crowd, but on the inside, get things right, be calm. Stoicism also throws in helpful tips on how to make that happen.
I’m kind of a hot mess. My desires are pulling me in millions of directions. My mind won’t shut up about anything. Just won’t turn off. Keeps calculating, speculating, creating, feeling, absorbing, entertaining, and laterally thinking. This is where Stoicism comes in handy. It tells me, focus on virtue. Take all the energy of these desires and focus it into a laser beam aimed at virtue. Harness all the energy in my brain to focus on one important thing in life: virtue. A brain with goals is awesome. It’s what makes humans fundamentally human. Having a goal keeps you from being pulled into every single direction by millions of desires just trying to get what they want. Having a goal is one thing though. We usually focus on one goal at a time. But virtue is the ultimate goal. Everyone should have some ultimate goal in life. And it should be a good goal. So what’s gooder than good itself? That’s what Stoicism says it is. Stoicism says virtue is the only good.
Life is often easier than we make it. I mean, life can be hard sometimes but do we really want to compound that by thinking of it as a terrible thing that it’s hard? Wouldn’t it be a better way of thinking about hardships as things to learn from and to even overcome? What’s life without learning some kind of lesson? When Darwin dreamed of his evolutionary theory, he imagined that life adapts. Isn’t that the thing that we should be doing in our own minds? Adapt! Follow evolution, try a new idea, test it, see if it works and if it survives the test of logic, go with it. That’s Stoicism. Stoicism has been shaped by a long tradition of philosophers that go back to Heraclitus, tinkering with ideas, trying to figure out the ones that survive critical thinking.
I get momentarily sad sometimes. Because I think about my mind and it’s too fast. Too fast. It’s also very impulsive and very unfocused. But then I remember the ultimate goal. The real objective goal: Live simply in agreement with Nature. Be virtuous. If I can just follow that narrow dirt path, I can get through the day. From thinking about doing what’s virtuous, I can also derive all my preferred indifferents that I need to focus on to get me there. I know I have to do physics homework because at some point I have to be a physics teacher so I can enjoy my career and make money at it so I can support my wife and daughter.
It brings peace to me when I can just forget all the desires, thoughts, and feelings that all run way too fast and think about virtue. I wouldn’t wish the tragedy of my own mind on anyone. But I can definitely learn to deal with my mind. My warped brain doesn’t totally own me, I get some say too. I got that ability to detach myself from the situation and rationally evaluate and make my own decision after I’ve stepped back and breathed a little. I have to remember, remember, remember that I can be rational. That I can think critically. I can assert my own final say about my own thoughts and ideas. I can judge things as good or bad. I can judge things as preferred or dispreferred. I can judge things and even prescribe what I should be doing. And finally, I can follow my own prescription. I can do this. I just have to do it. I have to stop, slow down, pause, reflect, think about the important things, the real important things, and just subsume all of my being to accomplishing those real important things.
Thank you for reading. 🙂