The modern world can be brutal. We are constantly connected to everything. Drama swirls around us constantly. How do you keep from being dragged down in all this? Being an everyday stoic can help.
An everyday stoic is someone who tries to apply the philosophy of the stoics to their everyday life. Being stoic does not mean you just ignore the world, but instead it means you handle the world differently.
A cornerstone of stoic philosophy is that we don’t have control over what happens, but we are in complete control of our reactions.
For example, when you see someone on Facebook arguing about something (politics, sports, the weather, anything really…) DO NOT jump in and “set them right”. While it is tempting to add your 2 cents to the conversation, it accomplishes nothing except sweeping you up into the drama. Yes, even if you are just agreeing with the person.
A stoic would look at that conversation, acknowledge that it is happening, and then move on.
Not getting involved in an argument on Facebook has a lot of benefits:
The last point is something very important that needs to be stressed: It is ok if you think someone is wrong on the internet. They are a different person than you and you have no control over them. Arguing with them will only keep you from doing something more important with your time.
Think about the last time you spent crafting the perfect rebuttal to some comment. Did the other person really change? Not likely. Did it lead to more comments? How much time did you spend on that? And how much time is spent thinking about it after it is all done?
That time you spent? Surprise! That’s you most precious resource. Once time is gone, it never comes back. Spending it on anything less than things that truly matter is a crying shame. Pro-tip: most things on social media don’t matter.
If something brings you up, that’s great. If it brings you down it is up to you to make the change.
Marcus Aurelius sums it up nicely:
The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
If something negative is happening, immediately ask yourself this. Does it directly affect me, right here, right now? If it doesn’t, then waste no more time thinking about it.
If it does affect you in some way, recognize that you are in control of your feelings. Decide that you will not get angry or slip into depression. That is the first step. It is not always easy, but it is the path of power.
Instead focus your thoughts on how you could use the situation to affect a change. The stoics stress taking action, and the first thing you should do is get control of your feelings. Your reaction is completely in your control.
Doing this is not always easy. But in the end you will be a better person for it.
Being an everyday stoic is not something that happens overnight. It takes daily practice. If you would like, here are two resources that can help you live more intentionally everyday as a stoic:
Yes, I have bashed Facebook a little in this post. But consider this: by following the Daily Stoic Inspiration page you can have a stoic thought show up in your timeline every weekday. Think of it as the first step in positive direction to a better day and a better you.