Why am I stoic
Antique ideas in trend - Stoically relaxed - with ancient philosophy through everyday life
Anyone who can take everything with stoic composure is enviable. Whereby envy - you should get rid of it. Because he is the most poisonous of all emotions.
Instead of looking for a comparison with others, we should better focus on what can be changed. These may not be our account balance and our body mass - but our attitudes towards them. This is what a true stoic thinks.
Suitable everyday recipes
The stoic philosophy has a lot of everyday wisdom ready. They can be found, for example, in the writings of Seneca, Marc Aurel and Epiktet: Do not sink into self-pity, not even pity for others. Pity doesn't help anyone.
Bear fate with serenity because you can't change it anyway. Satisfy yourself and do not make your happiness dependent on others. Not bad recipes for everyday life - especially at a time when many feel they are in constant competition with others.
What is the stoa?
The philosophy of the Stoa is a philosophical movement that began around 300 BC. Began and ended with the Roman Stoa around 200 AD.
What the Stoics have in common is the idea that we can rationally penetrate our feelings and the world - and should not see ourselves as a plaything of fate or emotions. Those who are self-sufficient are stoic.
So it's no wonder that these ancient recipes are currently selling quite well. Book titles like “The Wisdom of the Stoics” by the philosopher Massimo Pigliucci or “The Daily Stoic” by the consultant Ryan Holiday storm the leaderboards. The successful columnist Rolf Dobelli also makes explicit reference to the Stoa in his book “The Art of the Good Life”.
Not the first renaissance of the Stoa
This is by no means the first renaissance that the Stoa has experienced. Especially in times of crisis, the Stoa is always booming, says Christoph Halbig, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Zurich. Many statesmen invoked this philosophy during the Thirty Years' War.
Halbig names the painting “Justus Lipsius and his friends” from 1611 by the Dutchman Rubens as a well-known contemporary document. The philosopher Lipsius fought for a revival of the Stoa in the midst of the atrocities of war. That is why Rubens stages the stoic Seneca in the background of the picture - in the form of a bust.
Take away fear of losing control
Stoic philosophy developed in a time of crisis that resembles modern crises. The small Greek states perished in the great Hellenistic empires and later in the Roman Empire. People were confronted with new ethnic and religious beliefs.
The Stoa countered the feeling of strangeness with the idea that all people are equal. Instead of being in a small state, they are at home in the cosmos - in a very similar way we preach the humanistic ideal of equality for all people today.
But that was not enough to take away people's fear of losing control. Stoic philosophy tries to overcome this fear by suggesting: Happiness does not depend on external factors. Satisfy yourself, because nobody can take that away from you.
Happiness is a skill
Fear of loss of control is one of the main reasons for stress-related illnesses today. Tobias Ballweg, chief psychologist and philosopher at the Kilchberg Sanatorium, has therefore been working with recipes from the Stoa for years.
Patients have to understand that happiness is not an "experience" and also not an achievement that one can work for, says Ballweg. The stoic is concerned with the ability to be happy. People who can develop a clear relationship to their own demands are capable of happiness.
For Ballweg, this also includes the insight that loss of control is part of life. It is crucial to learn to distinguish between what can be changed and what we have to accept.
Feelings also need to be cultivated
For Christoph Halbig, however, a truly stoic handling of emotions goes too far. The stoic idea of apathy, the total liberation from feelings, negates the fact that emotions can be entirely meaningful and appropriate. For example, compassion helps us empathize with others. Anger gives us the strength to defend ourselves against injustice.
In addition, the Stoa tends to trivialize misfortune, says Halbig. If, for example, your own child dies, it is not helpful to point out that as parents you always know that all people are mortal.
Halbig prefers an Aristotelian attitude towards this: Aristotle advises us not to silence our feelings, but to cultivate them. Screaming injustice not only deserves sober knowledge and commitment to overcoming it - it also deserves outrage.
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