How does stoicism affect your own life?

What stoicism brings you for your career

Staying calm, not being caught off guard and keeping a cool head is not always easy - it has never been. Even in ancient times, philosophers fought against emotional demons and then called it stoicism. The art of relaxation through rational and determined thinking actually sounds very easy, but the beginning may seem a bit abstract. Jonas Salzgeber and his book "The Little Handbook of Stoicism" approach the topic in an understandable way and give a detailed insight into the Stoic philosophy.

The Inner Wolf © Jonas Salzgeber in “The Little Handbook of Stoicism”

What is stoicism?

Basically, most people want the same thing: to be happy. But how do you manage to live well? According to Epictetus (one of the most important philosophers of stoicism) this does not include wealth, a top office or a leadership position. So there has to be something else. Just as someone who wants to have good handwriting needs to practice and know a lot about handwriting, so too, someone who wants to be good in life needs to have a good knowledge of how to live. So if you want to be happy, you have to know what makes you happy. Imagine the best version of yourself - recognize and know who that best version of you is, the one who does the right thing in all situations, who makes no mistakes and appears unbeatable. In Greek this version would be called the inner demon, an inner spirit or divine spark. In ancient times, for the Stoics and for all other schools of philosophy, the ultimate goal of life was eudaemonia: that is, to be good (eu) with one's inner demon, to live in harmony with one's own ideal self and to be the best at all times Version of yourself to present. Not to be confused with the demon in the sense of a malicious being.

Stoicism for the career: "Therapy of the passions"

The Stoics identified strong emotions as our ultimate weakness, especially when we let them rule our behavior. Just as there are diseases of the body, there are diseases of the psyche - and the Stoics were well aware of this. They said it was impossible to get ahead in life when one was tormented by irrational emotions.

Think of strong emotions as your inner wolf - it is tremendously powerful when given freedom of movement, and it is able to pull you in the direction it wants. Emotions activate a tendency to act. Basically, when the inner wolf is angry, we hand over the helm, blindly following this tendency to act.

However, the Stoics found that we need not follow this trend. We can train ourselves to act calmly even when we are angry; to act courageously, even when we feel fear, et cetera. The Stoics want us to tame the wolf and learn to understand it. The goal is not to turn off all emotions. The goal is not to let them overpower you, despite their immense power.

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The stoic luck triangle

And how can we curb our emotions and become an unshakable rock? It's simple: all you have to do is get out into the real world and train like a warrior philosopher. But first you need to know the rules of the game.

At the center of the so-called stoic triangle is the aforementioned eudaemonia. It's about living an extremely happy and smooth life. It's about thriving, evolving, moving forward in our lives. And how can we achieve that? By living with Arete. That means being the best version of yourself in the here and now. Standing at the other corners: Concentrate on what is in your power. This means that at all times we have to concentrate on the things that we can control or influence at all. We have to accept the rest as it happens. And finally, take responsibility: Good and bad only come from within. You are responsible for your life, because every external event contains an area that you can very well control, namely how you react to this event. It is not the events that make us happy or unhappy, but our interpretation of these events.

Focus the process
We can decide our intentions and actions, but the end result of an event depends on external variables that are beyond our control. So success is defined by our striving to do everything in our power. In the end, it doesn't matter whether we achieve the goal or not, whether we win or lose. We are successful or fail in the process. The Stoics want us to develop this acceptance of everything that happens because most events happen anyway without our having a say. Stoicism teaches that we are very much responsible for our own happiness and unhappiness. We need to realize that external events are neutral. It is the way we react to them that makes them good or bad.

The villain: Negative emotions get in our way

So being happy seems pretty doable, doesn't it? Then why is it so difficult? Life gets in the way. It takes us by surprise and causes fear, insecurity, anger and sadness. The problem with these emotions is not that they exist, but that they overwhelm us so that we end up doing the opposite of what we should be doing. Therefore, preventing negative emotions from breaking out and being ready to deal with them effectively is an important part of stoic philosophy.

A boxer who takes a hit in the face will not leave the ring. And the same is true of philosophers; just because life hits, kicks, spits on, and hits us doesn't mean we should give up, but rather that we should get up and keep improving. So life is; Punches and kicks are part of it. Practicing stoicism helps us develop the appropriate tools to deal as effectively as possible with all the kicks and punches that life has in store for us. No matter what happens in our life, we are prepared for anything.

We want what is beyond our control
Basically, negative emotions arise because we want or fear something that is not under our control. As we have already learned, the cause of our suffering is because we worry about things that are beyond our control. The result is erroneous value judgments; we judge an indifferent external thing as good or bad.

We lack mindfulness and we let ourselves be carried away by impressions. It is important that we are less often overwhelmed by negative emotions through greater awareness. If we want to be the best we can be in any situation, then we need to be clear about every step we take. Attention is the most important thing. We definitely need mindfulness to recognize irrational fears and desires before we can either endure them with courage and perseverance or turn away from them with prudence and self-discipline.

More advice on this overview page.