Human beings by nature seek happiness and fulfillment in life. We all want to feel good and create pleasing memories to look back on, as we grow older. This is why many people are turning to Stoicism. The philosophy of Stoicism is quite old, originating from the Greek and Roman eras, developed by great thinkers like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism takes its name from the place where its founder, Zeno of Citium, lectured in the 3rd century BCE-the Stoa Poikile (Painted Colonnade).
Recently, Stoicism has started reappearing among entrepreneurs and business owners, whose way of thinking matches with its practical aspects. Stoicism basically inculcates two factors: happiness and potential. The concept is similar to happiness science. If we think about it, happiness and potential are really the two things everyone is after in this life.
We all want a happy and comfortable life, and would ideally like to get it by working at our full potential. Think about it. If you are able to become what you have always dreamed of, and feel happy in the process, what more could you ask for from life?
Stoicism says things happen to us, but what we can really control is the way that we respond to those things. Stoicism helps us to put our lives in a better order. It advises us to avoid our natural overindulgence that ultimately results in anxiety and agitation.
Let’s take a look at 8 Stoic ideologies that teach us how to open up our minds to live at our full potential.
1. Your Mind Is Your Power
Stoics believed that perception is the basis of true knowledge. Knowing that our mind is our power is the same as having self-awareness of our being. If only we can realize that we have the ability to control our mind, we will be able to make ourselves happy and content with our surroundings. All we need to control in order to manipulate our experiences and feelings is our mind, not the surroundings. If our mind can be tuned into our desired state, the external circumstances will not be able to harm us, no matter what. As mentioned by some of the pro writers, power of the mind is greater than any other power or pressure out there in the world.
2. Time Is Your Most Precious Resource
Nobody has unlimited or infinite time in this world, and we all know it. But most of us are not able to appreciate it the way we should. We all waste time and settle for anything we get. We don’t realize that we are wasting time by just letting days and months, or even years, pass by. For instance, an employee who is very fed up with his boss might still continue with his job for years, just because he is not able to get a better job offer.
According to Stoic principles, he is wasting time; or in other words, not realizing the true value of time. Many people keep on doing stuff that does not give them fulfillment, but is considered by them and the society as ‘routine’. If we keep reminding ourselves frequently that time is scarce, we could change our mindset, and begin striving for more wholesome experiences and achievements in life.
3. Be Present In The Moment
In an attempt to re-live our past experiences or dream about the future, we often forget to be present in the moment. Our minds are too preoccupied with the worries, responsibilities and tensions within and around us that we do not realize the importance of living every moment to the fullest. Our minds take over our hearts and compel us to be partially present, rather than fully enjoying the place we’re at. People who work hard on the quality of their minds are not like this. They have this strange and awesome ability to quietly cherish their existence and be fully aware of what is going on around them.
This tactic can actually be practiced by anyone who is willing to do so. All you need to do is to take out some quality time for yourself. Sit down in privacy, take a deep breath, feel your chest rising, sense the muscles in your body, and vision all senses around you as beams of bright light. How do you feel?
4. Show Gratefulness For What You Have
Gratefulness is a guaranteed means of making yourself happy. It pushes us to see the positive aspects of our lives and shuns away the negative feelings or memories. Scientists are now able to back up this concept through research as well. Being grateful does not mean that we stop aiming for higher. It simply means that we do not need to focus too much on what we do not have, as that would only pull us down and make us unworthy of getting anything that we could otherwise achieve. It creates an optimistic approach to life, which is the first step to getting closer to opportunities for personal development.
5. Remember Your Reasons
When we are struggling to achieve something, it is important to remember why we are going for it in the first place. The motive to have a goal and want to work towards it is more important than the goal itself. But sometimes, we tend to forget the charm of the journey we go through once we achieve the goal. Remembering the reasons behind our wishes and goals is crucial to our happiness. It helps us identify the kind of experiences that make us feel good, so that when things turn bad, we are able to find solutions to our depression.
6. Material Things Do Not Make You Happy
Materialism is a dangerous disease that every other person in the modern age suffers from. Excessive materialism is in fact a sign of being empty and void. When we feel that there is something missing in life or within, we develop this urge to keep wanting more and more. It is as if there is a gap in our hearts that we want to fill with material things. This concept is further reinforced by advertisements and promotion campaigns of fancy products and brands.
There is some truth in getting happiness out of material things, but that happiness or joy is always short lived. Real void can be filled with love and fulfillment, and by living our life to our maximum potential. Wise people seek long lasting happiness by spending time with their loved ones and doing things they are passionate about.
7. Change Your Perspective On Failure
Failure obviously has a negative connotation to it. But it should not be seen as a negative aspect in life. Failures are temporary, and can become a source of inspiration; if we know how to get back on our feet and move on to try again. Success can only be truly enjoyed if it comes after failure. The ultimate mission of our life should be to become the best version of what we are. That can only be achieved if we go through various experiences, some of which fail us while others give us success, but all of which give us the capability to make some progress.
Any failure can become a stepping-stone towards great success. It is all about how we take it. It should not be difficult in today’s day and age to gather information, gain knowledge, attain insights and turn any failed experience into inspiration for future success. If only we can convince ourselves that all failures are temporary, we can gather the strength to strive again and in a better way.
8. Reflect On How You Spend Your Time
How many of us can say that we take out time on daily basis to do what matters most to us? Spending time with family, expressing our thoughts in any form of writing, or working on a different kind of craft that we like, are all activities that can give us true happiness. But nowadays, most people like to spend their free time scrolling through social media news-feed, gossiping with friends, or randomly browsing through the Internet, thinking these could give them happiness.
If we try to reflect on the way we spend most of our free time, we would realize that we are actually wasting it. In search of happiness, we are exposing ourselves to fake stuff, which can at the most give us fake or short-lived happiness. If we observe the behavior of high-achievers, we will notice that they always prioritize their activities based on how productive each is and how good each makes them feel in the long run.
These Stoic principles can be a great means to identify the necessary changes that we need to make to our mindset and routines, to enable us have the life of our dreams. Through these principles, Stoic can teach us how to open up our mind to our full potential.