“A stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiatives, and desires into undertakings”
– Taleb Nassim Nicholas
Let me begin by telling you what stoicism is not. It is not a philosophy to help you live a life full of riches. And by that, I mean a life full of material possessions. Although following the stoic teachings can help you become financially successful ( Seneca, a prominent stoic philosopher became incredibly wealthy) that is not the goal of stoicism. The goal of stoicism is to help you live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. This type of life cannot be achieved with a mind that is troubled by negative emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, grief, and anxieties. It can only be achieved through a peaceful mind. The teachings of stoic philosophy are to help you achieve a peaceful and tranquil mind. The stoics, therefore, taught us virtue. That is the art of living life the right way.
I was first introduced to stoicism through Ryan Holiday’s book, The obstacle is The way. This book is one of the most profound pieces of writing I have ever read. Through this book, I came to understand that, the obstacles we face, when fully harnessed with resilience and commitment become the way out of whatever situation “we are trying to get out of.” And in the end, we come to find the obstacle really was not an obstacle, but a guide, and an opportunity to improve ourselves.
Contrary to the dictionary definition of who a stoic is—“one who is seemingly indifferent to or unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure or pain”—stoics do feel emotions. They instead work to overcome or banish negative emotions. And avoid attaching or developing an identity that is tied to the positive ones.
A stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiatives, and desires into undertakings (this is a borrowed definition from Taleb Nassim Nicholas).
She is someone who thrives in life not despite what happens to her, but because of what happens to her. Because, to rephrase the words of Seneca, it is through the misfortune that comes our way that we find out what we are really capable of.
And finally, a stoic is someone who understands that her true power lies within herself. And it is her job to spend her time worshiping that inner power to keep it free from turmoil, aimlessness, and dissatisfied with nature.
Marcus Aurelius’ meditation is a great book to read as a beginner to stoicism. He offers practical steps on how to deal with the everyday situations we all encounter. The goal of this book is to help you overcome the pain and negativity the mind is often afflicted with.
Another great resource on stoicism is Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s book, The Daily stoic. This book is a 366 day devotional on stoicism. Each day comes with a quote from the stoics, and the authors’ interpretation of the quote and how it could apply in your life.
Stoic the invincible soul is a podcast inspired by stoic philosophy. In this podcast, I explore the teachings of stoicism, mindfulness, and spirituality to help you expel the sufferings of the mind. And to help you live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
The Obstacle is The Way – Ryan Holiday.
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
The Daily Stoic – Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman
Start here as a beginner to stoic philosophy and open up your word of incredible possibilities.