A Brief Attempt To Define Stoic Mindset

Stoicism is a form of philosophy founded in Athens in the 3d century BC. It attempts to answer the question that underlies all philosophical systems; ‘What is the best way to live one’s life?’.

Any attempt to define Stoic mindset must take into account their tenet that the path to a happy life is to be found in accepting the moment as you live it rather than to be controlled by emotions such as fear, pleasure or greed. It requires a person to use their mind to understand the world and to live in harmony with nature while also co-operating with fellow human beings and treating them fairly.

Today many people live their lives striving to maximize their pleasure, status and wealth. Define Stoic mindset, the stoics would have regarded this as futile and that such people are trapped on a treadmill of hedonism, always seeking something that is lacking: more wealth, more pleasure or achieving ever greater accomplishments. According to them this does not lead to peace of mind, fulfilment or lasting satisfaction. Instead the Stoics taught that virtue (or moral excellence) is the only valid goal for human beings – things such as health. pleasure and wealth have no intrinsic value in themselves but are merely things that can be acted on in a virtuous way.

Because certain emotions lead to destructive behaviours and errors of judgment, the Stoics believed that a person should maintain a strong will (against these emotions and other distractions) and to live in harmony with nature. Hence their precept that a person should be judged not on what they say but rather what they do.

Since virtue is all a person requires to be happy, the true Stoic is indifferent in the face of strong emotions or unfortunate events and this is where the term ‘stoicisim’ comes from in modern usage. To learn this habit they believed that people should train their minds as much as they trained their bodies. Many people spend a lot of time worrying about events that they have no control over whereas the Stoics thought that people should focus on the things that they can control such as our thoughts, beliefs and emotional reactions otherwise they are merely slaves and can never be truly free or happy. As thought games to practice this they might imagine a misfortune, such as going blind, and then think about how they would deal with it. Doing so makes a person appreciate what they have and to be happy without having to chase some external ‘thing’ as a source of happiness.

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