Stoicism teaches us how to keep a calm and rational mind no matter what. This ancient philosophy lends insight into understanding and focusing on what you can control while letting go and accepting what you can’t.
Today on Crina and Kirsten Get to Work our hosts do an archaeological dig into an ancient philosophy – Stoicism – to find the golden nuggets to create more ease, meaning and joy at work. The idea for this episode comes from Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic podcast – 2-3 minute Stoic inspired daily meditations to help you live your best life. Ryan is a New Your Times best selling author and his style and content are really relatable. Okay – so now you know it, Kirsten got a little obsessed – and highly recommends the podcast.
Stoicism was created by a dude named Zeno in Athens in the third century BC. Stoicism is a school of philosophy for people who want to get stuff done in the world – then and now. As a side note, it was the philosophical inspiration for cognitive behavioral therapy – cool. It has been a relatively male-dominated school of thought. Crina and Kirsten make it the working woman’s philosophy.
In addition to Zeno, three people took Zenp’s work and ran with it. Marcus Aurelius, reputed to be the last good emperor of the Roman Empire and the most powerful man on earth, journalled his thoughts each day. This journal has been published as the book Meditations. Epictetus was born a slave and went on to found his own school and taught many of Rome’s greatest minds, one of which was Marcus Aurelius. Epictetus’ teachings were memorialized by another of his students, Arrian on Discourses and Enchiridion. Senec was a tutor and adviser to Nero and Rome’s best playwright and super hero power broker – sometimes said to be what we think of as the modern modern day entrepreneur. His personal letters are another source of Stoic philosophy.
Stoicism teaches how to keep a calm and rational mind no matter what happens to you and it helps you understand and focus on what you can control and not worry about and accept what you can’t control. The goal of Stoicism is eudaimonia or supreme happiness or fulfilment attainable by human beings – core purpose or the good life – a flourishing, lofty, and smoothly flowing life. The idea is that we can control our own behavior, but not the outcome of our behavior or others’ behaviors; and a calm and rational mind allows us to accept those outcomes.
There are five main elements according to our ametuer Stoics, Kirsten and Crina:
- Nature: Nature is rational. Live in agreement with nature
- Law of Reason: The universe is governed by the law of reason.
- Virtue: Courage, justice and discipline – and virtue is its own reward
- Control: Focus on what you can control and accept what you cannot
- Wisdom: Wisdom is the root virtue (see above).
Crina and Kirsten turn to modern female Stoics to explore the importance of emotion in Stoicism, and some core principles applied to women and work, such as The Way is Through, Don’t Make Things Harder than they Need to Be, Impossible Without Your Consent, Keep it Simple, Protect Your Peace of Mind and A Career is Not a Life Sentence.
This episode is a great introduction to Stoicism and how it can bring more ease, meaning and joy to work and life. And of course – the obvious – that men do not have the corner on Stoicism – or anything else.