Stoicism philosophy for youths – How to navigate your life in a world of uncertainty.
Stoicism philosophy for youths –
Life is full of surprises, with so many variables outside our control. For example, the elephant in the room of variables is Covid-19. No one could have guessed it would be this bad. The only thing certain about life is how uncertain it is.
In this uncertain life, there is a school of thought that lays down the pathway on how to navigate this uncertain existence. This school of thought is Stoicism philosophy.
Stoicism philosophy is a way of life that basically says, “don’t worry, you cannot always control everything and that is fine. What matters most is how you react to the things outside your control”.
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What is Stoicism philosophy?
A common misconception about Stoicism philosophy comes from the definition of the word Stoic.
According to Google, to be Stoic means to endure hardships without showing feelings or emotions. However, this kind of demeanour is more akin to Batman. Stoicism philosophy means more than hiding emotions or putting up a brave face.
Stoicism philosophy is a lifestyle founded by a man named Zeno of Citium, around 400 BCE. Zeno’s story about how he came across this way of life goes like this:
One day, he was transporting his goods and the next thing; he got shipwrecked, lost all his goods, and was stranded in Athens.
Zeno had two options; (1) he could worry about his sudden predicament and sulk about his loss of livelihood, or (2) he could accept what happened as fate and move forward with his life. Zeno chooses (2).
Zeno’s way of life and the bedrock of Stoicism philosophy is that man ought to live according to reason and focus on what they can directly control.
Stoicism philosophy for youths is your anti-worry philosophy. It asks you to focus on only aspects of life in your control, to not hate it when it rains, but to understand that just as there are rainy days, there would be sunny days.
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Stoicism philosophy for youths in the 21st century
In recent times, there seems to be so much to worry about. However, Stoicism philosophy lets us consider what the point of worrying is.
When I was younger, my mom would always let me know that “I am being anxious for nothing”, when I would think I would get to school late or flunk a test. According to Stoicism philosophy, those instances are under my control, yet I always imagined the worst.
As Seneca states, “We suffer more in imagination than in reality”.
Stoicism philosophy for youths makes us realize that, if one gets anxious over what one is in control over, one shouldn’t disregard getting anxious over aspects outside of one’s control.
Not worrying is not an admission of defeat. Stoicism philosophy for youths does not make you powerless in your life. Rather, it does the opposite, as you are more powerful because you know how to react to things you cannot control and focus on what you can.
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Dichotomy of control
Stoicism philosophy separates our worldview into the external world and internal world. The external world is uncontrollable, and that’s fine. No one could predict how quickly Dogecoin would rise and crash, no one can predict when the pandemic would end, that’s also fine.
What is important is your focus on things you can control and learn to live your life based on that.
The unpredictability of the external world
Take rainfall as an example. When you are caught in the rain, do you feel sad because it’s raining or because you did not expect it to rain?
Understanding that you have no control over natural outcomes is the same for the external world. It is better knowing that you can look for shelter when caught in the rain rather than standing still waiting for the rain to pass.
It is your outlook that Stoicism philosophy for youths aims to enlighten. Imagine if you attempted to pitch a promotion idea to your boss just for them to turn you down. A Stoicism philosophy outlook is understanding that your boss turned down your promotion for a myriad of reasons (bad day, trying to manage salaries) asides from your performance.
I feel this meme perfectly captures Stoicism philosophy for youth, as it shows that when life draws you a bad deck, you do not fold mentally, you should not back down.
If you can control it do something about it, if you cannot then do not admit defeat.
Focus on your internal journey
“The happy mountain climber doesn’t set the goal of climbing to get to the top of the mountain. Instead, they set the goal of getting to the top as an excuse to go mountain climbing”.
Stoicism philosophy for youths is about setting goals for progress, rather than achievement. Life is about the journey and not the destination. Learn to set goals as excuses to do what you really want to do in life.
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Stoicism philosophy for youths is a journey. Following the path does not happen overnight. You need to find joy and peace in controlling your internal world. And knowing that even if life hands you a bad deck, your outlook towards positivity should not change.
The control of your internal world is all you need for a worthy experience in life. What you are looking for is not out there in the external world, it is within you. Happiness and self-purpose that come from the external world lead to unsatisfied thirst, as the external world does not play by your rules.
Do you want a relationship? Don’t go on an endless stream of dates. Instead, focus on making yourself the most perfect, desirable version of yourself. Do you want your dream job? Make yourself highly relevant in your field. You control your internal environment.
Stoicism philosophy for youths is about wielding that control for your journey towards a meaningful life.
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