Stoic Joy & Gratitude

Caleb Ontiveros
Feb 18, 2019 · 2 min read
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Spot the Stoic?

The Stoics are sometimes characterized as joyless and emotionless. This is a caricature of Stoicism.

It would be a mistake to deny the reality of joy and happiness in our lives. The historical Stoics knew this. This is made clear by their persistent focus on gratitude.

In fact, a praemeditatio malorum exercise, can be very useful for cultivating gratitude. Marcus Aurelius has the following line:

Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.

To do this exercises, begin by thinking about the things that you value. Perhaps things that you like, that give you momentary pleasure. Perhaps material items or experiences you enjoy. Maybe it’s the basic necessities, like running water or a roof over your head.

Then imagine losing them.

Imagine what losing them would be like. Bring to mind the details. Try describing the situation in objective or descriptive terms. Be careful to avoid coloring the hypothetical with unnecessary value statements or judgements.

Then remind yourself that you have not lost anything. That’s really quite wonderful. Recalling Marcus’s quote, remember how you might crave for these things if they were not yours.

I hope you can use this exercise helps to engender gratefulness and positivity for what you have. Try it on your own or try Stoa’s gratitude meditations.

Stoa: Meditation & Stoicism

Stoa combines the philosophies of Stoicism and mindfulness…

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