What Is Stoicism All About?
First of all, the most important thing to sort out is to throw out the idea that Stoicism is all about having a stiff upper lip, and being cold, unemotional and uncaring. The Greeks and then Romans who put much into, and in fact in the case of the Greeks, began the Stoic philosophy.
Wisdom, Temperance, Justice, and Courage – these are the four cardinal virtues of a Stoic life. The Stoic wishes to go through their life, working at these four virtues to achieve their best possible life.
And to a Stoic, their best possible life is one that is lived in accordance with these four virtues. There are particular ways of considering these four virtues, with an emphasis on doing the best thing for themselves, and also for their family, friends and their wider community.
Going on a chocolate binge, while being very tasty, would not meet the virtue of temperance, and so would not be considered a good thing, by a Stoic. And if one had a heart problem and perhaps other health problems, then that’s certainly going to mean no chocolate, or perhaps only the smallest amount, as long as there have been no other dietary indiscretions.
Is it fair? This is an important question for a Stoic to remember and avoid. Life is made up of many things, and to rail against thing;s being ‘fair’ simply because they didn’t go your way is not a wise thing. As in Mindfulness, things that happen are, and it is up to all to deal with them in the best way possible.
And by the ‘best way’ one is not referring to gaining lots of money, or getting the biggest slice of cake. The ‘best way’ is the way that leads to improvements in your life, as it accords to your better understanding, and indeed embodiment of the four cardinal virtues.
I hope this brief look at stoicism has been of interest. If I have got anything wrong, please let me know. I am new at this Stoic life, and I wish to adhere to the proper way.