Key Point: The maxims of modern stoicism are timeless and perhaps priceless. I believe that in another 2,000 years from now they will still be referred to. In addition to previous blogs referencing Marcus Aurelius’ “what’s in the way, is the way,” as promised, I’m going to share my 10 favorite stoic principles.
- “Rehearse death. To say this is to tell a person to rehearse his freedom. A person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” – Seneca.
The New York Times recently published an article about the benefit of meditating on our death. “Paradoxically, this meditation on death is intended as a key to better living. It makes disciples aware of the transitory nature of their own physical lives and stimulates realignment between momentary desires and existential goals. In other words, it makes one ask, ‘Am I making the right use of my scarce and precious life?’” When we face the inevitability of death head on, we are more intentional and fearless about where we invest our time (Hint: NOT TV, Internet, or social media).
- “Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” – Seneca.
I love the idea of being able to learn from the past, but more importantly, wiping the board clean and restarting a new life every day!
3, “If a person doesn’t know to which port they sail, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca.
Find and define with specificity your life’s purpose. (Hint: Helping others).
- “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius.
We have way more choice about how we choose to feel about things that happen in life than we often realize. The ability to choose is so freeing!
- “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient.” – Seneca.
This is about the power of living in the present, and the joy of being content about who we are while still being aspirational in our commitment to grow and improve.
- “Were I a nightingale, I would act the part of a nightingale; were I a swan, the part of a swan.” – Epictetus.
This maxim reinforces the authenticity of accepting who we are. Each of us has a wonderful uniqueness and our humanity in that context makes us very real.
- “The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” –Seneca.
Our mind is not who we are. As the modern philosopher Eckhart Tolle notes: “Our mind often wants to take us to the past or future.” Our happiness is most attainable by living in the present and happiness is deceptively elusive if we chase, “when.” Be happy “now,” not “when.”
- “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius.
I noted this in a previous blog. We are precisely what we think.
- “Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.” – Epictetus.
This refers to the power of how we think about things. We often socially construct reality by the way we choose to frame a situation. Create stories that are real and based on self-honesty.
- “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus.
This maxim reinforces the concept of each of us being enough. We are content that each of us is good enough while legitimately having a growth mindset to become more. It’s a wonderful paradox.
- Allow yourself to marinate on the stoic maxims and apply your own interpretation. Appreciate the wisdom of sages and ages!
- Living a life with purpose involves making life better for human kind. And I believe the above maxims have permanence because they reinforce that premise. In the end, our life is defined by giving of ourselves to others. Stoicism shines an ancient yet forward light on the path!
10 in The Triangle,
One Millennial View:
These days, most are probably interested in sprinting as far as possible from the ideologies of Gladiator days, but more and more, it seems people are obsessed with the “when” factor instead of appreciating the “now.” Also, I deeply believe how we can choose to make the best of what’s currently happening is a key to happiness. These old guys had a few things right.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis