Re: Any advice on how to actually become a stoic?
- Try to be more 'self-observant'. Maybe even keep a journal (I think Seneca
recommends this, but I can't locate the reference).
If we really do believe that the only good is virtuous action and the only
bad vicious action, and that whatever befalls our projects and our bodies
cannot really be bad for us, we had best watch out that we live our lives
moment by moment putting this belief into practice.
One thing we must do is guard against the passions. Should someone annoy me,
should I spot myself actually becoming annoyed, so that rather than just
observing the situation with the view to making the best decisions moment by
moment but instead start to *feel* anger or annoyance or frustration, I must
be ready to remind myself that I have suffered no harm. Certainly, my
project may have suffered a set back, but what is that to me? All that can
do it give me more work to sort it out. More work is what Stoics thrive on.
Our overall life project of exercising the virtues would be in sorry state
indeed if nothing needed fixing, if there were no problems to sort out, no
annoying people to test our resolve!
Try watching yourself as if you were a Stoic examiner testing a pupil! At
the day's end, write up a report in your journal pointing out where you did
well, and where you failed. Then next day, try to do better.
Guard against being satisfied or elated by what ordinary people regard as
successes. Whether a Stoic succeeds in some project is of almost no
importance. Obtaining those things that are appropriate for us (obvious
things such as food and companionship) is important, but the emphasis must
always be along the lines of 'Have I acted virtuously?' Getting what we seek
at the expense of behaving justly, say, is just as bad for us as failing to
get what we seek because we succumbed to fear (that is, if we failed to
exercise the virtue of courage successfully).
What is important is how we act, not what we gain thru our actions. If we
can keep a conscious grasp on this we will have a better chance of really
Lastly, I consider myself to have been blessed by the greatest of fortune to
have discovered Stoic philosophy. As Marcus Aurelius says, the vast chain of
past causes have delivered me into the situation I now experience, and
whether or not there is a conscious force at the back of it all (Zeus) I owe
it to these forces, and to myself when I realise what sort of a creature I
am -- a sheep cannot owe anything to itself, it is the wrong sort of
creature -- to become the very best sort of creature that is possible for
Live with honour,