Simple Stoic Advice
The beautiful thing about Stoic philosophy is the advice contained within it is just as applicable today as it was when it was first written all those many years ago. We can learn a great deal from interpreting the advice provided and using it to our advantage as we go throughout our own lives.
Today’s quote comes to us courtesy of Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 3.5:
“How to act:
Never under compulsion, out of selfishness, without forethought, with misgivings.
Don’t gussy up your thoughts. No surplus words or unnecessary actions.
Let the spirit in you represent a man, an adult, a citizen, a Roman, a ruler.
Taking up his post like a soldier and patiently awaiting his recall from life.
Needing no oath or witness.
Cheerfulness. Without requiring other people’s help. Or supplied by others.
To stand up straight-not straightened.”
This is one of my favorite quotes by Marcus Aurelius as it really helps to sum up much of Stoic philosophy all in a single quote.
Acting without Thought
More often than not, we allow our emotions to drive our actions. But by doing so, we lose control of not only ourselves, but of the situation at hand. We can no longer control or influence outcomes when we allow things to get out of control due to emotions.
As Marcus writes elsewhere in Meditations:
“No random actions, none not based on underlying principles.”
Stoic philosophy is built around the fact that we have the ability to change our judgments and perspectives based upon shifting our thought process. This technique is so powerful that over two thousand years later, it was used to create what we now know as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Strong by Nature
Marcus mentions two things one after another: being cheery without external validation and being straight not straightened. He is reminding himself of the need to find from within these things. We do not need external things to make us happy. We also do not need external things to “straighten” us out. These are powers we possess on our own and should find within each and every one of us.