In mental health terms there are certain things that whether of the moment or not will always hold true. Stoicism is one of those.
But this ancient method for living is very much part of a cultural resurgence now. It has been spoken about by such as actor Russell Brand and bestselling author Matt Haig, both of who are seen as ambassadors for mental health.
Many other celebrated people today are also said to have been taken by at least some of the Stoic way of thinking. These include Harry Potter author JK Rowling, actor Tom Hiddleston and musician LL Cool J.
Stoicism is a type of philosophy founded in Greece in the early 3rd Century BC. It was started by a great thinker called Zeno who was born in Cyprus in 334BC.
It swiftly became extremely popular as one of the most significant schools of philosophy. Ever since it has enjoyed various revivals as new generations discover its wisdom for successfully living life on life’s terms.
In particular, Stoicism emphasized living in a virtuous manner. This included always being in agreement with nature in order to gain peace of mind.
Stoics believe it’s vital that people don’t react to events, but that instead people learn to react to their perception of them. That perception or judgement is always up to the person.
Stoicism and CBT
There’s a connection to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), one of today’s most popular therapies. Psychologist Albert Ellis (1913-2007) founded the first type of CBT in the 1950s.
He believed that people often have incorrect beliefs about situations they’re in. These beliefs lead to difficulties and unhappiness.
But using various methods that can be learned by anyone, these beliefs can often be challenged and seen from a different perspective. This means that difficulties and unhappiness can be avoided.
Although Stoicism is centuries old, it is still completely relevant today. This is particularly true since the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has given such uncertainty to people’s lives.
So the world we live in might change – but our human condition with its various emotions and feelings always stays the same.
Stoic quotes for 21st Century life
The three most celebrated Stoics are Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca. These three men have left us with a wealth of insightful quotes.
Here are some of the best for living well today.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…”
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?”
“People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.”
“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”
“Don’t go on discussing what a good person should be. Just be one.”
“Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life.”
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.”
“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”
“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”
“He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.”
“Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.”
“A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope.”
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
“You become what you give your attention to.”
“No person is free who is not master of himself.”
“It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
“Associate with people who are likely to improve you.”
“Hang on to your youthful enthusiasms – you’ll be able to use them better when you’re older.”
“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.”
“He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary.”
“The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.”
“To wish to be well is a part of becoming well.”
“He who is brave is free.”
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