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Stoicism


Guyver
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Greetings!  I would like to know your thoughts on Stoicism, and I admit I am ignorant on the subject and how deep it actually goes, or whether it currently be practiced.  I do believe my Grandmother practiced it, as have many devout Catholics, but of course it goes back to the Greeks, yet the Romans (especially the Roman Elite) at least some, how many IDK.  
 

I think some people just do it by instinct, but I don’t really know.  So, my understanding of Stoicism is that it is the practice of enduring hardship without complaining, at its most basic meaning….so, by definition.  It seems that in the culture I was raised in people make a habit of doing the opposite.  I’ve heard so many people, especially some old people just complaining about everything all the time.  In my mind, that doesn’t seem like the best way to go.  What good does complaining about a thing do?  It doesn’t change it whether you praise it or curse it as I see it.  
 

Anyway, my question is…..is Stoicism an intentional practice based on faith, or is it a purely secular notion based on pride and the notion of “dying a good death?”  In other words, is it secular or religious?

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1 minute ago, Guyver said:

In other words, is it secular or religious?

Depends, one actually does not negate the other in this case, it's more of a philosophy in nature.

Thing is, stoicism is ill defined as too simplified towards the negative nowadays, it is not merely enduring hardship without complaining, it applies right across the board, not just hardship and woe. 

~

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So, in my mind, Stocism may actually have some good points.  Given the choice, I’d rather die a good death than a bad one, and complaining about things solves nothing.  It’s not a logical practice since it doesn’t fix the problem.  So, in my view, I sort of see Stoicism as logical practice, and wisdom based on contemplation and advanced human growth, but I could be wrong.  What do you think?

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1 minute ago, SHaYap said:

Depends, one actually does not negate the other in this case, it's more of a philosophy in nature.

Thing is, stoicism is ill defined as too simplified towards the negative nowadays, it is not merely enduring hardship without complaining, it applies right across the board, not just hardship and woe. 

~

Well stated.

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3 minutes ago, Guyver said:

Well stated.

Don't credit me with that, I'm no expert... A nice place to start... 

Quote
by D Baltzly · 1996 · Cited by 2 — Stoicism was one of the new philosophical movements of the Hellenistic period. The name derives from the porch...

~

 

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My problem is that I don’t embrace Stoicism, so I feel like complaining about my problems a lot.  In fact, I could actually go off about it on a high level if I wanted to.  I don’t.  I understand acceptance as a basic principle. Outside of that I’m basically lost.  I don’t know what to believe in.  I like the Native American view of God as Great Spirit, but, that’s about as far as I go.  I’ve actually been depressed by some of the problems I’ve had in recent years, and practicing Stoicism over stuff like that seems a reach for me….so I wouldn’t mind understanding it better if someone here may practice it.  
 

I did practice “holiness” as defined by Evangelical Christians for many years, so I think I may have actually unwittingly practiced stoicism myself for a long time.  Good thing too, cause I went hard in my life and old is catching up with me.

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Question.  Let’s say you’re a Stoic and you are trying to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon, but there’s so much continual traffic noice coming by your place it keeps you awake and you can’t enjoy a nap.  Do you curse those people driving by, or do you just brush it off as if nothing and make yourself some tea (in my case coffee) and go about your merry way as if nothing had ever happened and forget about it, or do you feel privileged because you had the chance to suffer, even if on what must be considered a very low level. ?  Let’s face it missing a nap is not like getting your leg chopped off.

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56 minutes ago, Guyver said:

Question.  Let’s say you’re a Stoic and you are trying to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon, but there’s so much continual traffic noice coming by your place it keeps you awake and you can’t enjoy a nap.  Do you curse those people driving by, or do you just brush it off as if nothing and make yourself some tea (in my case coffee) and go about your merry way as if nothing had ever happened and forget about it, or do you feel privileged because you had the chance to suffer, even if on what must be considered a very low level. ?  Let’s face it missing a nap is not like getting your leg chopped off.

I think it depends on the situation and other factors. I think honoring the suffering is where I would start, taking your example if I was bothered by the noise and couldn’t sleep it would be an opportunity for me to explore what was going on with me and go from there. Resilience is often the result facing the things that torment us (and as often as it takes). People go through things that are really hard in their lives and maybe it gets them through. I think empathy and understanding and self compassion are better than a stoic attitude. Yet, at times grinning and bearing it may be all one can do. 
 

Complaining a lot may be providing one with a way to release stress or trauma it can give one a way to work through something, or an opportunity to expel accumulated negativity. I don’t see complaint as always a bad thing. It can lead to new approaches. It depends on many things.

Good to see you posting and if you need a sounding board pm me anytime. Just my two cents.

Edited by Sherapy
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4 hours ago, Guyver said:

So, in my mind, Stocism may actually have some good points.  Given the choice, I’d rather die a good death than a bad one, and complaining about things solves nothing.  It’s not a logical practice since it doesn’t fix the problem.  So, in my view, I sort of see Stoicism as logical practice, and wisdom based on contemplation and advanced human growth, but I could be wrong.  What do you think?

My perspective is simply, if one believes and knows karma, and GOD, then how could one possibly complain about anything?

My knowledge of Stoicism is as basic as yours, "stiff upper lip" type of thing.

 And yet we see the same sentiments in Christianity, Buddhism and other spiritual traditions too.

And so I assume, Stoicism, like all philosophies and spirituality are meant to help expand ones mind, once the ego has been cracked open.

 

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4 hours ago, Guyver said:

Question.  Let’s say you’re a Stoic and you are trying to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon, but there’s so much continual traffic noice coming by your place it keeps you awake and you can’t enjoy a nap.  Do you curse those people driving by, or do you just brush it off as if nothing and make yourself some tea (in my case coffee) and go about your merry way as if nothing had ever happened and forget about it, or do you feel privileged because you had the chance to suffer, even if on what must be considered a very low level. ?  Let’s face it missing a nap is not like getting your leg chopped off.

Personally I wouldn't use the word privileged, but one may feel "happy enough" to have received some negative karma, taken a deep breath, exhaling all the stress and thereby freeing oneself that little bit more.

As you say, there is no turning back the clock, and what has happened has happened. So the question is, how does one react to perceived negative circumstances?

Turning the other cheek, springs to mind..

Yet if one can set a good example in such moments, neither accepting, nor not excepting, then what came in as a negative, may end up being a positive, and so, one can feel "happy enough".

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4 hours ago, Sherapy said:

 

Complaining a lot may be providing one with a way to release stress or trauma it can give one a way to work through something, or an opportunity to expel accumulated negativity. I don’t see complaint as always a bad thing. It can lead to new approaches. It depends on many things.

 

I can agree, to a point, that a complaint may release stress etc..

But there is a way to over-come stress, and even karma.

It starts with a belief, a perception, and an attitude.

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5 hours ago, Guyver said:

 Let’s say you’re a Stoic and you are trying to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon, but there’s so much continual traffic noice coming by your place it keeps you awake and you can’t enjoy a nap.

The real question for me here is why do you need to "enjoy" a nap... 

~

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7 hours ago, Sherapy said:

I think it depends on the situation and other factors. I think honoring the suffering is where I would start, taking your example if I was bothered by the noise and couldn’t sleep it would be an opportunity for me to explore what was going on with me and go from there. Resilience is often the result facing the things that torment us (and as often as it takes). People go through things that are really hard in their lives and maybe it gets them through. I think empathy and understanding and self compassion are better than a stoic attitude. Yet, at times grinning and bearing it may be all one can do. 
 

Complaining a lot may be providing one with a way to release stress or trauma it can give one a way to work through something, or an opportunity to expel accumulated negativity. I don’t see complaint as always a bad thing. It can lead to new approaches. It depends on many things.

This is interesting. Ancient stoicism was pretty much assimilated (to use the Borg term) into ancient Christianity. It still pokes out from under the Christian covers sometimes (the Serenity prayer is 120 proof Stoic, and responsive to 3ye's observation that most other modern uses of stoic ideas and language accentuate the negative ... in contrast the Prayer is the very model of seeking psychological equilibrium, which is more in line with actual ancient stoic writing).

Now comes Sherapy, who's articulating a mindfulness perspective being applied to a nuisance which flesh is heir to. That makes me wonder, how stoicism would have evolved and developed over two millennia had it remained independent of (even adversarial against) organized Christianity. I think evolving stoics would have discovered and embraced  what we today classify as mindfulness exercises (or whatever the right word is for applied mindfulness).

And that may be the answer to what the OP is seeking.  Not so much the "museum piece" stoic writings, but the modern ideas that resonate with it ... that might have been it had it survived as a living model of a path to living the best life possible.

I know this seems a bit crazy (even for me), but if somebody wanted to find out about a hypothetical modern stoicism, I suggest Tom Wolfe's novel, A Man in Full. There are many strands to that novel, but one of those strands is about a modern ordinary person discovering Epictetus while in prison. Ironically, in light of your post, one reason why the character is receptive to Epictetus is that he has trouble sleeping with all the nighttime commotion he hears from his prison bunk.

Edited by eight bits
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48 minutes ago, eight bits said:

I know this seems a bit crazy (even for me), but if somebody wanted to find out about a hypothetical modern stoicism, I suggest Tom Wolfe's novel, A Man in Full. There are many strands to that novel, but one of those strands is about a modern ordinary person discovering Epictetus while in prison. Ironically, in light of your post, one reason why the character is receptive to Epictetus is that he has trouble sleeping with all the nighttime commotion he hears from his prison bunk.

Not Forrest Gump? 

~

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1 hour ago, eight bits said:

This is interesting. Ancient stoicism was pretty much assimilated (to use the Borg term) into ancient Christianity. It still pokes out from under the Christian covers sometimes (the Serenity prayer is 120 proof Stoic, and responsive to 3ye's observation that most other modern uses of stoic ideas and language accentuate the negative ... in contrast the Prayer is the very model of seeking psychological equilibrium, which is more in line with actual ancient stoic writing).

Now comes Sherapy, who's articulating a mindfulness perspective being applied to a nuisance which flesh is heir to. That makes me wonder, how stoicism would have evolved and developed over two millennia had it remained independent of (even adversarial against) organized Christianity. I think evolving stoics would have discovered and embraced  what we today classify as mindfulness exercises (or whatever the right word is for applied mindfulness).

And that may be the answer to what the OP is seeking.  Not so much the "museum piece" stoic writings, but the modern ideas that resonate with it ... that might have been it had it survived as a living model of a path to living the best life possible.

I know this seems a bit crazy (even for me), but if somebody wanted to find out about a hypothetical modern stoicism, I suggest Tom Wolfe's novel, A Man in Full. There are many strands to that novel, but one of those strands is about a modern ordinary person discovering Epictetus while in prison. Ironically, in light of your post, one reason why the character is receptive to Epictetus is that he has trouble sleeping with all the nighttime commotion he hears from his prison bunk.

I will read this book. Excellent points. For me, I think the “not being able to sleep bothered by the noise” can be a  projection of ones suffering (and a common one) as you point out. I think the best place to start with ones suffering is with self compassion that may lead one to find another way. Thank you for this post. 

 

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5 hours ago, Crazy Horse said:

I can agree, to a point, that a complaint may release stress etc..

But there is a way to over-come stress, and even karma.

It starts with a belief, a perception, and an attitude.

Can you clarify this part? What starts with a belief, perception and an attitude? 

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The problem with the modern take on Stoicism is that it's lifted bodily out of it's contextual origins. It's goal and reason for being is rooted, deeply, in the Aristotelian ethical goal of achieving eudaimonia, excellence of character and virtue, right thoughts, right actions, leading to right results and consequent happiness, itself a virtue. Stoicism isn't about suppression of emotion, but of endurance without complaint. 

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1 hour ago, Hammerclaw said:

The problem with the modern take on Stoicism is that it's lifted bodily out of it's contextual origins. It's goal and reason for being is rooted, deeply, in the Aristotelian ethical goal of achieving eudaimonia, excellence of character and virtue, right thoughts, right actions, leading to right results and consequent happiness, itself a virtue. Stoicism isn't about suppression of emotion, but of endurance without complaint. 

Well said, a strategy (to me) is to try and accept what comes up in ones life to stabilize the mind so one can work with it in ways that promote well being what ever this means to someone. If one can’t sleep due to the traffic it is worth investigating/exploring. Our emotions are intrinsically connected to our thoughts in other words, one follows the other. It is our emotions that drive our behavior to even want to do something to feel better. 
 

 

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12 hours ago, Guyver said:

Greetings!  I would like to know your thoughts on Stoicism, and I admit I am ignorant on the subject and how deep it actually goes, or whether it currently be practiced.  I do believe my Grandmother practiced it, as have many devout Catholics, but of course it goes back to the Greeks, yet the Romans (especially the Roman Elite) at least some, how many IDK.  
 

I think some people just do it by instinct, but I don’t really know.  So, my understanding of Stoicism is that it is the practice of enduring hardship without complaining, at its most basic meaning….so, by definition.  It seems that in the culture I was raised in people make a habit of doing the opposite.  I’ve heard so many people, especially some old people just complaining about everything all the time.  In my mind, that doesn’t seem like the best way to go.  What good does complaining about a thing do?  It doesn’t change it whether you praise it or curse it as I see it.  
 

Anyway, my question is…..is Stoicism an intentional practice based on faith, or is it a purely secular notion based on pride and the notion of “dying a good death?”  In other words, is it secular or religious?

If you give us some specific examples of where you would like to cope better we can help. You have six possible techniques that I know of for dealing with difficult situations.

1: Mindfulness - Learning not to attach emotionally to problems, for adults it takes a couple of years to get really good at it. The reason being is it takes that long to make significant changes to their brains through the practice.

2: Stoicism - Looking at how the situation could be a lot worse, and then realising the current circumstances aren`t that bad after all. Again, it takes a couple of years to get good at it as you need to remould your brain through practice.

3: Ignoring/Not Caring - Put yourself into a state of mind where you stop caring about things. Most anxieties are in fact a fear of how you might react or be seen in social circumstances. Practice not giving a dam and then once into that state of mind apply it.

4: Reframing - You can put yourself into a state of mind where you derive positive emotions from any circumstance. Humour, pleasure, excitement. To do it you have to look at the situation a different way.

5: Compartmentalisation - Create a mental box, put the things that do your head in into it, and then set yourself a rule. You would only allow yourself to think about stuff in the box at set times. Every other time it stays in the box. After a while you will quickly realise you dont ever have to give any time at all to what is in the box.

6: Fight or Flight - Understand that when you encounter a threat to your physical, emotional, or psychological wellbeing then it triggers this. It is triggered by suspending your normal breathing. If you look at your breathing next time you encounter a stressor you will notice you keep pausing and suspending it. The lowering oxygen triggers the release of adrenaline which activates and maintains the fight or flight response. Breath, and the moment you encounter a stressor then focus your intention on your breathing and make sure you keep doing it normally.

You can also choose which way you go, fight or flight. Anger, rage, hate, and thoughts of violence, are the best way to go so long as you can maintain control over them. There isn`t the same feeling of stress or anxiety (which are the flight response) attached to them.

Finally, and this is one I came up with, if someone wrongs you do not plot revenge against them. If you look at what happens when you do this then it activates and maintains your flight or fight response. Now revenge is good, it makes you feel better, and it teaches the person (usually) a lesson. Take revenge, but dont plot about it. All revenge should be taken in the moment as an opportunity arises instead of spending time thinking about it.

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Cookie Monster, I like your post….up until the last sentences.  Wouldn't taking revenge be the opposite of stoicism?

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7 hours ago, Crazy Horse said:

My perspective is simply, if one believes and knows karma, and GOD, then how could one possibly complain about anything?

My knowledge of Stoicism is as basic as yours, "stiff upper lip" type of thing.

 And yet we see the same sentiments in Christianity, Buddhism and other spiritual traditions too.

And so I assume, Stoicism, like all philosophies and spirituality are meant to help expand ones mind, once the ego has been cracked open.

 

Karma is very real but doesn`t work the way many think.

You need to start by setting out a list of behaviours which are constructive to you in your life. A good moral compass, doing what is right, professionalism, helping people, being compassionate. Basically, putting aside that religion is religion you can get a good list of such behaviours from it. Make that list the pattern of your own actual behaviour in life.

As you try to keep yourself focused on your pattern, you will encounter many circumstances (mostly with people) that try to drag you away from it. It is absolute key that you must not get sucked away from your pattern of behaviour. Or you set a new one where undesirable behaviours are included.

Set your pattern up, maintain it, stick to it like your life depended on it.

Now, the magical voodoo. I dont know what is actually going on, I dont know if I have the best way of explaining it, but I will give an example. I went on a diet (a pattern of behaviour) which I absolutely stuck too for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks I ordered a pig out session from a takeaway. They sent the wrong order. 

Now, I have many examples which I could spend hours listing, but the key is once you get the affect and get it with all the other patterns you set too, you realise it is not a coincidence. Patterns that you set, that you firmly engrain into reality, the universe tries to keep going when you try to stop. Its like a weird kind of inertia or momentum. In the example I gave it stopped me breaking my diet (the universe trying to keep the pattern going) by sending me food I didn`t want to eat.

Set your pattern up, engrain it into reality through repetition, do not let yourself get sucked out of it, and the universe will try to keep it going for you. The challenges to your pattern which arise will start disappearing. If thats an annoying person (as an example) events will conspire to remove them from your environment.

Edited by Cookie Monster
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10 minutes ago, Guyver said:

Cookie Monster, I like your post….up until the last sentences.  Wouldn't taking revenge be the opposite of stoicism?

Revenge makes you feel good (getting your own back on a sod that deserves it).

Plotting of the revenge makes you feel bad. Its got nothing to do with stoicism.

If you do the revenge thing correctly, and combine it with the pattern thing, you`ll notice whenever you encounter a sod you also get the opportunity handed to you on a plate for revenge. Take it.

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2 hours ago, Sherapy said:

Can you clarify this part? What starts with a belief, perception and an attitude? 

Ones journey HOME.

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."Always look on the Brightside of life, dee da, dee da dee da dee da.."

And so I can only assume, that Stoism is a part of the British culture.

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