4 Tips to Self-improvement Through Stoicism

The world is going through a health crisis, and along with it a crisis of the mind. People are beginning to feel restless and depressed, and loathe being cooped up in their apartments or homes.

While some countries have begun to open up, many people are still wary of the pandemic- and for good reason. It is still out there, it can’t be seen yet you need to avoid it.

While the pandemic is among the world’s great struggles right now, we as humans have our own small struggles. Struggles that annoy us in our everyday life, or petty grievances that disturb our relationship with friends and family.

These struggles are as valid as the larger ones, and when piled together and left unchecked they can get to us. And when these petty struggles do get to us, it is only us that will suffer.

So how can you avoid letting the small things weigh you down?


#1 Eter Stoicism

Merriam-Webster defines stoicism as ‘indifference to pleasure or pain’. That is true to some extent, but the meaning goes beyond that. Stoicism began as a school of thought way back in the 3rd BCE, espousing a philosophy of self-control, wisdom, and perseverance.

To the average joe in the 21st century, a stoic conjures up an image of a cold, emotionless person but that cannot be further from the truth.

At its core, stoicism teaches you to accept what cannot be changed, to be persevering, and to be kind. Stoic philosophy can help you a lot in life, be it through a rough patch in your marriage, or a crossroads in your career.

Let’s take a look at how you can use a stoic philosophy to help you in your everyday struggle.


#2 You Can’t Change What You Can’t Change

It is very frustrating when things don’t go your way, like when it rains on a picnic day, or heavy traffic despite waking up early.

But these matters are out of your control, and it’s rather pointless expending emotional energy over matters that you can’t change. Instead, tell yourself to just see it to the end and move on.

After all, when force or nature or matter of luck strikes, we as humans can only participate. Understanding this is key to letting the petty nuisance of everyday life pass.

The Japanese have a fitting expression to this philosophy, ‘shoganai‘. Roughly meaning “it can’t be helped”, tell yourself that whenever something unpredictable or unavoidable happens, it’s ‘shoganai’. ‘C’es la vie’ or ‘such is life’ also encapsulates this mindset and it’s something you can tell yourself whenever you find yourself in a situation that cannot be helped.


#3 Self-Discipline and Self-Control

Self-control is the key to improving one’s self. Without it, we can easily fall traps to temptations and distractions- and our era is rich with both.

The most important part of disciplining yourself is knowing your priorities and targets. What is truly important for you, and what is unnecessary?

A large part of this comes from self-awareness. Knowing your tendencies, your habits, and your weakness all play a large part in tempering your impulses and emotions.

This also lends to abating explosive emotions: learn to let anger wane before speaking. A lack of emotional restraint might end up with you needing a civil lawyer or worse.

Do not let your emotions speak for you when angered or flustered: wait. Do not fall in the temptation of letting your heart guide you: you are the master of yourself, your emotions, and your decisions.

Learning this is crucial to controlling yourself, and will also help you with achieving your goals.


#4 Be In Pursuit of Wisdom

The ancient Stoics valued wisdom above all else, and for good reason. To distinguish what is the truth from falsehoods, fabrications from reality, wisdom is needed.

We need to see things clearly, objectively, and with reason. As mentioned before, letting emotion control you affects how you view things. Wisdom is what makes you see the truth in what’s happening.

Wisdom, to the Stoics, meant resourcefulness, discretion, and wit. All of these things are honed through experiences. Not just yours, but the collective experience of humans.

While that may sound vague, there is a way where you can make use of the years of studies and research of humankind: books. Read as many books as you can, on a wide variety of topics. Keep learning, for the mind stagnates when we stop learning.

The world’s struggles inevitably affect our lives. This, in addition to our struggles in our daily lives, can weigh us down and make life heavier. However, our lives are our own.

Self-improvement is our own responsibility, and through the wisdom that can be gleaned from Stoicism, we can improve ourselves even more.

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