What makes Stoicism the greatest mind hack? A guide to Stoicism and list of exercises on how to be a Stoic.

Right before starting with — what makes Stoicism the greatest mind hack? This quote is going to provide you with essence about Stoicism-

Death is the shadow of life which gives the light to life.

what makes stoicism the greatest mind hack
What makes stoicism the greatest mind hack?

What is Stoicism? What makes Stoicism the greatest mind hack?

The documents like private diaries and letters of Roman Emperors which can be deemed as one of the highest Wisdom in the history of mankind, they form the strong foundation for the practice of Stoicism.

For any Stoic, its tool for the pursuit of perseverance, wisdom and self-improvement. This is for someone who wants to get better in life rather than a mere topic of academics.

Example, George Washington, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Jefferson, Matthew Arnold and others read, studied, quoted, or admired the Stoics.

Even the ancient Stoics weren’t slouch like Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. One was a Roman Emperor, and a famous playwright and a political advisor respectively.

What is Stoicism in philosophy?

For the Stoicism be the ultimate mind hack, these virtues form the foundation of it:

  • Courage
  • Temperance
  • Justice
  • Wisdom

Marcus Aurelius wrote that if you find something better than justice, truth, self-control and courage – it must be a really extraordinary thing indeed.

In the present age of the internet, better transportation and advanced medicines have we found anything better than-

Being brave? Moderation and sobriety? Making the correct choice? Truth and understanding?

We can safely assume that whatever we face in life, we need to respond with these four virtues.

what is stoicism in philosophy
What is stoicism in philosophy?

Courage:

“The world wants to know if you have cojones. If you are brave?”

— A novel named All the Pretty Horses

Seneca would rephrase this if you have passed through life without an opponent, no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.

Anyone in the world will never ever know what you are good at. Therefore tricky and tough situations are sent out in your way. Treat them as opportunities to grow, the questions to answer.

Let your response make a dent into your life- and let it remind you why bravery is the most important thing.

Temperance:

Now coming to life, everything isn’t that simple as it seems to be. We can’t be solely dependent on courage because too much of it turns bravery into recklessness, endangering themselves and others also.

Now here comes Aristotle with the concept of “Golden Mean”. Bravery can’t only be measured in the presence and absence of it. The spectrum is continuous, cowardice is absence, and too much of it is just recklessness. The correct amount is what depicts the golden mean of bravery.

Aristotle said doing the correct thing in the right amount in the correct way. Since we are what we repeatedly do; therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit. This is what moderation is all about.

So if we want success, happiness and health in life, we need to develop the capabilities. These day-to-day habits allow us to pursue it.

Justice:

Being courageous, finding the golden mean, but in the correct seriousness, they get dwarfed by “doing the correct thing”, to what a Stoic is worshipped for.

This is the most essential virtue- justice because it influences others. Justice is the source of all the attributes quotes Marcus Aurelius. Stoics have pushed for truth often with great courage, personal sacrifices and risks to get the ideas and people or the great things they love.

Great personalities, politicians and activists have taken the support of Stoicism to fight against the difficult circumstances for the ideals that mattered for them towards what was correct in a world full of wrongdoings. It was a complete package about acceptance, Wisdom and refusal to accept the status quo for them.

Wisdom:

We have Courage, Temperance and Justice in place, forming a critical virtue of life. But what calls for courage, in the correct amount and which is the proper choice? The last virtue of Wisdom comes into the picture. It’s the knowledge, the learning, the experience to navigate on the face of this earth.

Stoics do consider the Wisdom as the prized possession. Zeno said we have two ears, two eyes and one mouth for a reason. To listen and observe more than we talk. 

The information has always been the key to our disposal, which will help us to make the correct decision to live a good life. The key is to keep our minds always open since one cannot learn which you think that you already know.

Therefore to diligently filter out the signal from the noise, we shouldn’t stop our training. Which is why we need great teachers, for this we need to be always reading.

Principles of Stoicism:

stoicism beliefs
Stoicism beliefs
  • The Division of Control

“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

  • Journalling

“Few care now about the marches and countermarches of the Roman commanders. What the centuries have clung to is a notebook of thoughts by a man whose real life was largely unknown who put down in the midnight dimness not the events of the day or the plans of the morrow, but something of far more permanent interest, the ideals and aspirations that a rare spirit lived by.” 

— Brand Blanshard

  • Observe your cojones

“It is in times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself for difficult times; while fortune is bestowing favors on it is then is the time for it to be strengthened against her rebuffs.”

— Seneca

  • Training your perception

“Choose not to be harmed, and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.”

And “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

— Marcus Aurelius

  • Everything is short-lived

“Run down the list of those who felt intense anger at something: the most famous, the most unfortunate, the most hated, the most whatever: Where is all that now? Smoke, dust, legend…or not even a legend. Think of all the examples. And how trivial the things we want so passionately are.”

— Marcus Aurelius

  • Have a bird’s eye view

“How beautifully Plato put it. Whenever you want to talk about people, it’s best to take a bird’s- eye view and see everything all at once— of gatherings, armies, farms, weddings and divorces, births and deaths, noisy courtrooms or silent spaces, every foreign people, holidays, memorials, markets— all blended together and arranged in a pairing of opposites.” 

— Marcus Aurelius

  • Memento Mori: Meditate On Your Mortality

“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”

—Seneca

  • Premeditatio Malorum

“What is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect, and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster. This is a reason for ensuring that nothing ever takes us by surprise. We should project our thoughts ahead of us at every turn and have in mind every possible eventuality instead of only the usual course of events… Rehearse them in your mind: exile, torture, war, shipwreck. All the terms of our human lot should be before our eyes.”

— Seneca

  • Amor Fati

“To love only what happens, what was destined. No greater harmony.”

— Marcus Aurelius

stoicism marcus aurelius
Stoicism and Marcus Aurelius

My previous writings on the topic of semen retention, improving concentration, meditation, mindset for self-improvement, dopamine fasting are based on the principles of Stoicism. If you haven’t read them, please go through them once.

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