Stoicism makes up much of how I view the Universe and my relationship with it. If that sounds like I am bragging I have two responses to that problem. My first response is that a better understanding of the nature of stoicism is needed. My second response is, that concern says more about stoic philosophy than it does about this writer.
There are many misconceptions about Stoicism. The most prevalent is that stoics “stand there and take it”. The opposite is true. Stoicism does not mean withstanding pain or abuse without action or emotional outburst. In relation to this sort of problem stoics take action. Action is not antithetical to stoicism, rather it is imperative. To the Stoic, it is not what happens to him that is important, but how he reacts. In my view stoicism values self improvement, self knowledge, appropriate restraint and appropriate action. It is personal responsibility and solid resolve. It is to strive to thrive in even the most harsh conditions. It is the acceptance that the universe will throw any and every hardship but one must be prepared and attempt to act appropriately.
Above all I believe the most important virtue of stoicism is dignity. Dignity is also a misunderstood word today. Dignity is picking oneself up. It is pulling up your sagging pants. It is not going along with a trend when it betrays decency or makes one appear a fool. It is not being able to afford a new article of clothing but repairing the existing clothing to the best of one’s ability. It is not allowing oneself to be victimized of violated by others, whether of equal position or higher. It is refusing to agree when one disagrees. It is living a life one would not shamefully hide from anyone.
Some Good Stoic Quotes:
- Master lttei said, ‘ ‘If one were to say what it is to do good, in a single word it would be to endure suffering. Not enduring is bad without exception.”– Hagakure, Yamamoto Tsunetomo
- To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete. -Epictetus
- It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. -Epictetus
- One’s appearance bespeaks dignity corresponding to the depth of his character. One’s concentrated effort, serene attitude, taciturn air, courteous disposition, thoroughly polite bearing, gritted teeth with a piercing look – each of these reveals dignity. Such outward appearance, in short, comes from constant attentiveness and seriousness. -Yamamoto Tsunetomo
- The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -Marcus Aurelius
- Speak softly and carry a big stick. – President Theodore Roosevelt