Brain Food #544

Stoicism, and paving the path to a happy state

Thoughts of the day

I always like to start a new year by revisiting the wise words of the Stoics, the founders of a school of thought that is as relevant now as it was when it first began, in 304 BC. Stoicism teaches self-control and resilience in the face of forces that are beyond us.

Looking back on 2020, where everything seemed to be beyond our control, perhaps one of the greatest lessons we learned was that we can be so much more content with so much less.

And, looking forward, we cannot resolve to be happy (this is as futile as wishing to win the lottery), but we can use methods, such as those that Seneca outlines below, that can pave the path to a happy state:

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

Before diving into the new responsibilities that come with a new year, take some time to sit in front of a blank piece of paper, and ask yourself: what was it that you learned from 2020?


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