Buddhism and eastern philosophy has become quite popular with those seeking a way to detach from the noise of modern life in recent years. In the west, our ancestors had their own similar ideas that I believe have a unique personality independent from eastern thought, and are often overlooked. The philosophy that grew in the west was moulded by the unpredictability of life at the time where plagues, wars, and famines were all widespread.
Originally founded by the philosopher Zeno of Citium around 300BCE (over 300 years after the founding of Buddhism), Stoicism soon found a widespread popularity. In the days of the early Roman Empire, with the importing of Greek thought through the common practice of buying greek slaves to educate the young, Stoicism took on a new widespread appeal among the Roman people. All of it’s greatest works that have survived to today have come from those living under the Empire and as the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, Stoicism also laid the ground-work for later Christian belief.
The beauty of this philosophy to me is how anyone, rich or poor, slave or emperor could embrace it. This is mirrored beautifully in the only three complete Stoic texts that have survived: Epictetus’s Enchiridion, a former slave; the letters of Seneca the Younger, an adviser to Emperor Nero and a politician; and finally, the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the emperor himself.
The core belief of the entire philosophical school can be summed up in one short quote from Epictetus:
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it. Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.”
I’m going to share a few techniques from this ancient school of wisdom with you that I use every day. they will only take a couple of minutes and fit perfectly into a morning or evening routine. If you haven’t already read my article on happiness I suggest you check that out as well!