Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to Be a Stoic - 3:AM Magazine

3AM: What are the most compelling parts of Stoicism?

MP: I can’t speak for others, but I find the fundamental idea that a life worth living is one during which one strives every day to become a better person to be compelling. The Stoics do this by mindfully practicing four cardinal virtues: practical wisdom, the ability to navigate complex situations in the best way available; courage, to do the right thing; temperance, so to always act in proportion to the need of the situation; and justice, treating others with fairness, as fellow human beings.

I also find some of the Stoic techniques to be very useful. For instance, the evening philosophical diary, in which I interrogate myself about the difficult parts of my day, reflecting on what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I could do better the next time around. Or the exercises in mild self-denial, like occasional fasting, or even taking a cold shower. They remind me of just how good my life normally is, when I can count on things like hot water and a nice meal, which are definitely not a given for everyone on the planet. Think of them as exercises in gratitude, but in practice, not just words.

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