Written by Yamini Bharadwaj – a grade 8 student
The definition of Stoicism is: “the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.”
Someone who is Stoic is calm and almost without any emotion – you don’t show what you’re feeling and you also accept whatever is happening.
Who founded Stoicism?
There was once a merchant in Cyprus, who was the unfortunate victim of a shipwreck. He lost all of his possessions, though he himself did survive. This man, plagued by misery, visited a bookshop, where he chanced upon books by Socrates. So influenced was he by his work, that Zeno asked the bookseller where wise men like him could be found. Just then, a cynical philosopher, Crates of Thebes entered the store and the bookseller gestured to him, as an answer to Zeno’s question. Influenced by Crates, the famous merchant, Zeno founded Stoicism.
So, what is Stoicism?
Stoicism is a philosophy that is based in reality. It speaks of life as it truly is – miserable. Everyone experiences an unfair share of this pain. Most become hysterical, and depressed, having always imagined a perfect life. However, the Stoics aren’t like most people. They tackle the most unfortunate scenarios with grace and peace. All yearn to know how people can be so calm.
Stoicism produced a simple answer consisting of the principles listed below.
1.Know what you can and cannot control
It is said that happiness begins at the fall of the illusion that we can control everything. We can’t do so. Within our control are our attitudes, reactions, and responses. We cannot control the mean things other say about us, the problems that arise in our day, or similar events. These are external things beyond us, and trying to change them would result in pain.
2.Happiness can only be found within
True happiness is beyond external conditions. The famous Stoic Epictetus was a slave, yet with the understanding that he could not change his slave status, he grew calm, and changed his thoughts instead.
Too often we picture our lives to be without problems. However, the Stoics encouraged that we imagine the worst that can happen in our lives. On picturing that, we realise that we can get through them too.
We have much more strength than we let ourselves know, and Stoicism is a philosophy that makes us notice this. By a few fundamentals, Zeno composed himself after the shipwreck, Epictetus found happiness despite slavery, and like them, we can also get through the problems in our lives.