One of the most iconic eras of human history and collection of historical figures are the Greek philosophers. Their words glean insights that are timely, relevant, and profound to this day. Many of these philosophers identify as being ‘stoics’, which is a lifestyle I originally didn’t agree with.
But I must admit, I am guilty of misunderstanding their philosophy and only recently having corrected my understanding, I find that I very much personally align with it. Now in case you had a similar misconception I wanted to set the record straight.
The main distinction is that the stoics practice ‘stoicism’, which is different than being stoic. When you’re stoic it means that you’re unemotional and unresponsive to life happenings. I personally wanted more fun and experience in my life, so rejecting emotion of any sort wasn’t something I was interested in.
But stoicism is a very specific application of that definition. One of the main tenets of stoicism is living within your values and integrity, and a core practice is to make decisions that are in alignment with that best version of yourself. The very careful application involves being able to resist the bias of emotions when making important decisions.
You might know this by it’s other name, which Ed Mylett and others call equanimity. Emotions often cloud our mind to rationalize a certain truth, but in practicing emotional control stoics are always accountable to acting within integrity of their highest self.
In the case of my highest self, I am very emotionally expressive! I am positive, optimistic, enthusiastic, and fun-loving. I get excited and I pour myself into the things I care about. These highly emotional states are not stoic, but they are within my personal stoicism practice because they are features of the man I want to be!
This connects to one of my personal core philosophies which is ‘intentional living’. This involves being disciplined to the things that you determine are most important to you. I emphasize the importance of advanced decision making because it allows you to determine what your best-self would hope to do in certain situations before you encounter those moments, which are more emotional and biased than we realize.
I believe intentional living is synonymous with stoicism, and having frameworks that help you embody your best-self in the present help you to live more intentionally in the future.
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