Stoicism is active, it’s a Verb! The “strong silent type” go unnoticed because so few people realize their presence. Being a Stoic is always rewarding, sometimes smart, and only fun on rare occasion. So, I’ve detailed how and why as a modern Stoic I avoid stillness and inaction!
Stoicism is not fatalism;
Stoicism is not inaction;
Stoicism is not passivity;
Stoicism is not withdrawing;
Stoicism is not stillness.
Stoicism became a major influence in my life when I made the formal and conspicuous decision chose to walk the hard road and only follow the lessons taught by Men who succeed in life. I also realized why they were resented by lesser men.
I decided to never, ever compromise on my beliefs.
Even when it hurts.
Even when I have been made to suffer for it.
As a philosophy, stoicism has many interpretations that make it very compatible with other successful schools of thought. Most people have been conditioned to believe that in order to be a Stoic you have to be grim and anti-social, that’s true at all.
Stoicism is the emotional operating system that runs the computer of our minds, it’s the color palette that allows you to decorate your hovel, it’s the fortified position from which you build your empire.
Having a clear, unyielding set of beliefs that you make known through your consistent behavior is Stoicism.
Every minute of every day most men choose to adapt their ethics, morals, standards, and codes of conduct to best fit the situation at hand. I don’t have the time nor inclination to judge them for it.
What makes a Stoic different, is his ability to draw a hard line in the sand and stick to what he professes, even when it is inconvenient.
It’s most important to adhere to your beliefs when it’s inconvenient!
I won’t attach the labels of Good, Bad, Right, or Wrong to the Stoic or the man who adapts his beliefs because what my continent-spanning life experience has taught me, through making good friends and quality enemies all over the world, is that no one cares if you are good, bad, right, or wrong.
To be clear, people are far more concerned if you are reliable and consistent far more than any other trait.
I had a conversation with a young man that came to me about advice on the best image to project to women is. He was shocked when I told him that no woman has ever been attracted to a man because he is a Super Hero or a Super Villain.
I explained to him that if he wanted to project the image of a Super Hero to her, then he is better off showing her and not telling her. I asked him if he volunteered to help the needy and less fortunate. I asked if he donated his blood to hospitals. I asked him if he rescued dogs from the pound and found them good homes so they weren’t put to sleep.
I told him that not all superheroes wear capes, had super strength, or could shoot power from his fingertips. If he was going to be a Super Hero, he would need to show anyone (or woman) anything. They would see it in his consistent actions.
He needed to stoically repeat those behaviors, even when she asked him to skip the time he was going to the animal hospital/blood donation center/homeless shelter to be with her. I told him that he needed to show her that his life was firm and consistent. Even in the face of anything she tempted him with, any jokes his friends made about what he did with his time, or when the physical and mental progress he made began to make her uncomfortable.
Stoicism is directly correlated to consistency today as well as in Zeno of Citiums time, one of Stoicisms progenitors!
Zeno of Citium is not as well known as his students and successors. His name does not ring through the hallways of modern culture the way that Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus have come to. His teachers are, like most classics, written by people who may never have met him, but my favorite lesson comes from Cicero, Academica, 2.145.
Zeno stretched out his fingers, and showed the palm of his hand, – “Perception,” – he said, – “is a thing like this.”- Then, when he had closed his fingers a little, – “Assent is like this.” – Afterwards, when he had completely closed his hand, and showed his fist, that, he said, was Comprehension. From which simile he also gave that state a new name, calling it katalepsis (κατάληψις). But when he brought his left hand against his right, and with it took a firm and tight hold of his fist: – “Knowledge” – he said, was of that character; and that was what none but a wise person possessed.
When I first read that, I felt as if my Ego had conspired against me again because I understood it! Knowledge is being able to contain Perception, Dissent, as well as Comprehension, and distill it into Knowlege!
The secret is in the simplicity, just like the old Balance A Toothpick On/With (Random Object) challenges I’ve seen in business development sessions and college campuses.
Forging Perception, Dissent, and Comprehension into Knowledge with a strong, minimalist base that is not a precarious balance on any one part of its makeup, then being confident in displaying it as an example, without any extra fanfare, is optimal Stoicism.
If what I wrote helps, send $5 in BitCoin to this address.
It’ll buy me coffee to fuel my mind while I write!
YusefWateef (at) Gmail (dot) com