Discover more from Complexity Condensed
Stoicism explained in exactly 500 words
If practiced well, Stoicism can help you get rich and stay rich.
I’m only half-joking.
Stoicism is a school of Philosophy that originated in Athens in 300BC and endured for five centuries. It emphasized the importance of living a virtuous, rational, and disciplined life.
Although Stoicism isn’t mainstream anymore, a large number of successful people swear by it.
Besides, Stoic quotes are currently the rage on Instagram.
In my quest to explain 500 years of Stoic philosophy in 500 words, I will focus on four values that the Stoics emphasized.
1. Strive to be virtuous despite life’s obstacles
Jesus would’ve been proud of the Stoics.
They were overly concerned with the quality of their character and sought to lead a virtuous life irrespective of their circumstances.
They stressed the need for courage in the face of adversity, moderation while indulging in materialism, and a strong moral compass while making decisions.
Marcus Aurelius, a Stoic and Roman Emperor, is famous for the phrase “What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee”. Besides sounding like a clarion call for Socialism, it succinctly summarizes Stoicism’s obsession with living a virtuous life by putting the needs of others ahead of your own.
2. Accept reality as it is, not as you wish it were
If you’ve heard the term ‘Amor Fati’ and wondered what it meant, today’s your lucky day. It was popularized by Nietzsche and translates to ‘A love of fate’. It also encapsulates a central pillar of Stoic Philosophy – that reality doesn’t care about your opinion, so quit living in denial and accept it as it is.
3. Don’t be swayed by extremes
‘Memento Mori’ is another Latin phrase that is common in Stoic literature. It translates, rather morbidly, to ‘Remember that you will die’.
In two Instagram caption-friendly words, Stoicism manages to inflate deflated egos and deflate inflated ones.
No matter what you’re going through, good or bad, however extreme, meditating on your mortality is bound to center your ego and stabilize your emotions.
4. Focus on what you control
As humans, our survival instincts trick us into worrying about more than we should. There’s never been a worse time for that instinct to exist than 2020.
The Stoics understood this tendency and campaigned against it.
They knew that while most things were outside their control, their thoughts, actions, and reactions were entirely controllable. They preached a singular focus on these internal events, and an indifference to external ones.
What does Stoicism have to do with getting rich?
In life, the outcomes of your decisions compound over time.
Stoicism is a framework for decision making that maximizes your chances of success in the long term.
Access to opportunities, the ability to make better decisions, and an increase in efficiency sound like jargon you’d find in a business school brochure.
However, these are useful outcomes in any pursuit of success, irrespective of whether it involves getting rich.
The best part? You can start working towards them today. And it won’t cost a penny.
That’s it for this week!
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and that you’re enjoying the holiday season in whatever capacity 2020 permits.
If you’re stuck at home and looking for an interesting Christmas read, I recommend this fascinating piece about Santa.
Complexity Condensed now goes out to over 2,000 people each week.
If you’re new here, I’d love it if you subscribed. Roughly once a week, I’ll send you an email that explains a complex topic in exactly 500 words.
If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you, and see you in 2021!