Is This the Right Time to Become a Stoic?
Like many, I begin my day by reviewing the news on my phone. Afterward, I usually stretch, eat a healthy breakfast, and take my vitamins. However, I must admit, it is not easy to mentally prepare for the day when the headlines are so alarming. We are not over the pandemic; the economic forecast is worrying, and people do not seem to be able to get along.
Could this be the time to consider adopting a stoic outlook on life? (Read about stoicism here.)
When counseling vulnerable seniors and their families, I emphasize the need to accept and take control of the situation. According to the first century freed slave turned Greek philosopher Epictetus, “the chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control and which have to do with the choices I actually control.”
Stoicism is a practice of mindfulness that reminds of the world’s unpredictability and fleeting nature of life. It teaches us to be strong in our minds and control our emotions, not eliminate them. This ancient Hellenistic philosophy from early 3rd century BC can help modern families in crisis.
Seniors and their adult support systems benefit from calmly reviewing the situation, making rational choices, and avoid acting out of anger, stress, or fear. Accepting the current circumstances and responding with ‘emotional control’ allows the parties involved to make decisions productively.
Below are a few quotes that I have found useful in my work and may be helpful as we progress through these difficult times.