In Part Three of his Simple Truths series, RD&T’s contributing writer, Kris Verle, shares insights about Stoicism.
“What happens when a cat gets philosophical?”
“It likes to paws and reflect on life.”
Yes, philosophical puns. They really are a Nietzsche on their own.
In Part One of my mini-series on how to lead simpler and more meaningful lives, I told you the story a potential client asking me which school of philosophy I’d compare my life coaching to.
I scared her away with a response that managed to be both semi-accurate and vulgar. So, having previously spoken about essentialism and minimalism, I’ll use this article to clear up any remaining confusion with a response that’ll be no less vulgar, but at least accurate.
An Unlikely Bunch of Practical Jokers
When it comes to personal development, the majority of life coaches, counselors, and therapists focus mostly on behavioural, cognitive, and social psychology. We often forget there’s a wealth of practical wisdom to be found in ancient and contemporary philosophy which we can easily apply to our daily lives.
And when it comes to useful life wisdom, it’s the Stoics of ancient Greece and Rome who win, pants down. Or tunics up, rather.
There are striking similarities between Stoicism and Buddhism.
For example, both philosophies stress how important it is to be accepting of all things that happen in life – the good and the bad. Yes, a lot of those things involve pain and suffering, and Stoics believe this is best tackled by taking on a cheerful and humorous approach to life.
Sadly, the moment we hear ‘stoic’ or ‘stoical’, the words ‘unemotional’ and ‘aloof’ come to mind. We forget that many Stoics had a dark sense of humour and were masters of dry wit.
Take Chrysippus, for example – a famous Stoic philosopher who literally died from belly laughing. What was so funny, you wonder?
He was watching a donkey eating figs in his garden one evening.
Must have been a real fat ass.
Before I go into some of the more gruesome aspects of Stoicism, let me set out one of its core principles first: Stoics believe you can achieve happiness by making the best of the only two things you have real control over – your actions and your judgements.
It’s only once you accept that happiness is purely internal and can’t be found in external sources, that you’ll stop being a puppet to the ups and downs of life.