Welcome to Rise to the Good Life! I'm Simon Drew and I'm so excited that you've found your way here.

Before you go wandering around I thought you might want some background on myself and/or Stoicism.

So in case you're wondering, I'm a musician, podcast host, blogger​, coach, photographer, "student of life", and soon-to-be personal trainer. I live on the Sunshine Coast (Australia) with my incredible wife Jennifer, and I am on a mission to help as many people as I can to find joy and fulfillment in life through using the principles and values of Stoicism (as well as some good old fashioned self-improvement ​techniques). 

​"What is Stoicism?" I heard you ask? Let me explain...

STOICISM - THE ULTIMATE TEMPLATE FOR A WELL-LIVED LIFE


I first heard of Stoicism when Tim Ferriss (author of many life-changing books and host of many life-changing podcasts) said in an interview that "Letters from a Stoic" was his favorite book. Being the avid fan of Tim's work that I was, I had to have this book.

The book, which is a collection of letters written by Seneca the Younger (I'll get to him later) to his friend, was an absolute game-changer for me. Since my 20th birthday I had been absolutely obsessed with self-improvement books and motivational strategies, and what I discovered in Letters from a Stoic was that everything motivational gurus and personal development leaders are saying today had already been said over 2000 years ago by the Stoics!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I think it's important to get a bit of history before you jump straight in, so here is a very brief overview of Stoicism (If you would prefer to listen to a brief history then you can go here to listen to episode #2 of my podcast): 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF STOICISM

​Stoicism ​is a school of philosophy that was founded over 2000 years ago ​by Zeno of Citium. Zeno was the son of a merchant ​who would often bring books ​back from is trips to Athens. These books were often philosophical, and this is where Zeno began his love of philosophy.

Later in his life Zeno was shipwrecked in Athens, and so he took this as an opportunity to start anew and to begin learning from the philosophers of Athens.

Eventually beginning his own school teaching on the stairs of the Stoa Poikile (thus, Stoicism), Zeno and his successors taught that to live a good life one should focus heavily on virtue, which is the ultimate ​goal, and that to have true virtue you must set your aim at knowledge and wisdom. He also taught that a good life should be free from negative emotions like hate, anger, and fear, and that one must align oneself with the ​laws of nature in order to live a good life.

Stoicism is a school of philosophy, and when I say school, I literally mean that when it began it was a school. See, in ancient Greece philosophers were some of the main teachers within the society. Parents would literally send their children, or even themselves, to a school of philosophy, where they would be taught how to live in accordance with that particular philosophy.

It was also the case that Parents would, if need be, hire a philosopher as a personal tutor to their child. For example, Aristotle was hired by King Phillip of Macedon to be a personal tutor to his son, who later became Alexander the great.

I’ll give you some examples of the schools of philosophies, and what they taught.  The Epicurean school of philosophy taught that to live a good life one must seek modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquillity, freedom from fear, and to avoid bodily pain.
The Hedonists taught that life ultimate goal should be pleasure, and so to life a good life one must maximise pleasure, and minimise pain.
Cynics taught that one must desire nothing, and live an extremely minimalistic life if one is to be happy.
 

The school of stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, and was originally taught on the stairs of a building called the Stoa Poikile, thus, the name Stoicism.

Zeno’s father was a merchant and would often bring books to Zeno after his trips to Athens. These books were often philosophical, and this is where Zeno began his love of philosophy.

Later in his life Zeno was shipwrecked in Athens, and so he took this as an opportunity to start anew and to begin learning from the philosophers of Athens.

Eventually beginning his own school, Zeno and his successors taught that to live a good life one should focus heavily on virtue, which is the ultimate good, and that to have true virtue you must set your aim at knowledge and wisdom. He also taught that a good life should be free from negative emotions like hate, anger, and fear, and that one must align oneself with nature in order to live a good life.

But Even though stoicism began in Greece, it eventually found it’s way to Rome, where the most notable philosophers of stoicism that we know today actually resided.

So who are these philosophers? Well, there are four that I’d like to mention. Lucious Annaeus Seneca, Gaius Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.

 Lucious Annaeus Seneca was born around the same time as jesus in Cordoba, a town in Roman Spain. His life is not heavily documented, however his adult years saw him become a wealthy and highly influential philosopher, statesman, investor, playwright, and advisor to the Roman Emperor Nero.

Seneca championed the art of rhetoric, public speaking, and debate, and also spent time as a speaker in the Senate. As was and is often the case with anyone who would devote their life to politics, Senecas life was marked with scandal, but what we see in his writings is a man who was torn between a life of philosophy and a life of ambition, two worlds that are difficult, yet not impossible, to combine without conflict.

Senecas life was at times filled with beauty, and at others filled with strife. For example, In the year 41, all of Senecas property was confiscated and he was banished after he was accused of committing adultery with the Emerors niece. He was sent to a rocky island where he spent 8 years in exile, returning only after Claudius’s new wife had convinced him to bring back seneca so that he could tutor her son, Nero.

Senecas letters and essays show a man who was aware of his shortcomings, and who was deeply dedicated to understanding the truth about what really makes people happy and what does not. His letters are personal, touching, and full of beauty.

Around 65 AD after being accused of conspiring to kill the emperor, Seneca was sentenced to death by suicide, a fate which he met with calmness and dignity.

At the same time that Nero was in power, Gaius Misonius Rufus was at the height of his fame as thought leader in Rome, and was teaching stoicism to many eager students. One of these students had the foresight to take prolific notes at his lectures, without which we would have very few records of his teachings.

Musonius was a bold teacher, and believed that a lecture should almost be painful to the student seeing as they are there to rid themselves of negative traits and behaviours.

Misonius, like Seneca, also suffered banishment, and In 65AD he was sent away to a desolate and rocky island. Many say that this was because of Neros jeolousy about misonious’s rising fame as a philosopher.

Misonious returned home only after Nero had died, although he was exiled again later in life, and died in 100AD.

Although he is the least known philosopher of the four that I am outlining, his contributions to stoicism cannot be overstated, one of his best contributions being his greatest student, Epictetus.

Epictetus, was born a slave to a man called Epaphroditus, who at the time was the administrative secretary to Nero. Seeing that Epictetus was highly intellectual and showed great talent, Epaphroditus sent him to Rome to study with Musonius Rufus, where he became an excellent student and was eventually freed from slavery after the emperor nero had died.

Later, in 94 A.D., the Emperor Domitian banished Epictetus and other philosophers out of jealousy over their rising influence among the people of Rome. Sent away to Nicopolis, Epictetus made the best of his exile by establishing a school where he spent the rest of his life living in humble circumstances and teaching the fundamentals of Stoicism to eager students.


Among those people highly influenced by the works of Epictetus was Marcus Aurelius who studied the works of epictetus as a young man.

Marcus Aurelius is widely considered to be one of the five good Roman Emperors, and also one of the great stoic philosophers. He, along with his brother Lucius Verus, were groomed for Emperor status from a young age, although the two boys were completely different in terms of character and ability to lead. Lucius was highly indulgent in the vices, yet Marcus was focused on the study of philosophy and was dedicated to his duty as heir to the throne.

Throughout his reign as emperor the Roman empire was struck by plague, war, and famine, yet marcus Aurelius stayed true to his Stoic values. at one time he even sold large portions of his furniture and precious jewellery to help the people endure the hard times, and to set an example of sacrifice from the top down.

Through extreme illness, war, betrayal, and hardship, Marcus Aurelius shone as a brilliant example of a person whose life was dedicated to philosophy. During his life he wrote extensive notes on life, death, god, and philosophy, introducing the idea that death is always lingering over us, and so the only way to live a good life is to dedicate ones time to only good and agreeable causes.

So those are the main stoic philosophers, and in future episodes I’ll be sharing their words with you.

If you havent already read stoic philosophy then there are many books that I’d recommend, but for now there are three that I think will give you the best start. The first is Letters From a Stoic, which is a collection of letters written by Seneca. The second is Meditations, a collection of diary entries written by Marcus Aurelius. Third, the art of living, which is a collection of lessons from Epictetus, translated into modern english by Sharon Lebell. I’ll put a comprehensive list of things to read in my show notes  at risetothegoodlife.com

Before I end this episode I’d like to bring stoicism into modern history, and just name a few people who who you may know, who consider themselves to be stoics, or who were greatly influenced by stoic philosophy.
Author and investor Tim Ferriss, bodybuilder, polititian, and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, chicago cubs manager Joe Maddon, football quarterback Tom Brady, the rappers T-Pain and Lupe Fiasco, John Steinbeck, Ralph Waldo Emerson, JK Rowling, Kevin Rose, Jack Dorsey, and Nelson Mandella.

With a list as diverse as that, how could you not be interested in diving deeper into this incredible philosophy? And I’ll be doing that a little more in the next episode when I outline what I believe are the 10 core values of stoicism.

​But Even though stoicism began in Greece, it eventually found it’s way to Rome, where the most notable philosophers of stoicism that we know today resided.

So who are these philosophers? Well, there are four that ​I'll talk about. Lucious Annaeus Seneca, Gaius Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. There are many others, such as Cato the Younger and Chrycippus, however due to the limited resources that we have from them and their teachings, most people are happy to cling to the former mentioned philosophers as the guides for Stoicism. 

Lucious Annaeus Seneca was born around the same time as Jesus in Cordoba (a town in Roman Spain). His life is not heavily documented, however his adult years saw him become a wealthy and highly influential philosopher, statesman, investor, playwright, and advisor to the Roman Emperor Nero. 

Seneca championed the art of rhetoric, public speaking, and debate, and also spent time as a speaker in the Senate. 

As was, and is often the case with anyone who would devote their life to politics, Seneca's life was marked with scandal. But what we see in his writings is a man who was torn between a life of philosophy and a life of ambition; two worlds that are difficult, yet not impossible, to combine without conflict.

Seneca's life was at times filled with beauty, and at others filled with strife. For example, In the year 41, all of Sen​eca's property was confiscated and he was banished after he was accused of committing adultery with the Emeror's niece. He was sent to a rocky island where he spent 8 years in exile, returning only after Claudius’s new wife had convinced him to bring back Seneca so that he could tutor her son, Nero.

Seneca's letters and essays show a man who was aware of his shortcomings, and who was deeply dedicated to understanding the truth about what really makes ​life worth-while. His letters are personal, touching, and full of beauty.

Around 65 AD after being accused of conspiring to kill the emperor, Sene​ca was sentenced to death by suicide, a fate which, by most accounts, he met with calmness and dignity. 

At the same time that Nero was in power, Gaius Misonius Rufus was at the height of his fame as thought leader in Rome, and was teaching stoicism to many eager students. One of these students had the foresight to take prolific notes at his lectures, without which we would have very few records of his teachings.

Musonius was a bold teacher, and believed that a lecture should almost be painful to the student, seeing as they are there to rid themselves of negative traits and behaviors.

Misonius, like Seneca, also suffered banishment, and In 65AD he was sent away to a desolate and rocky island. Many say that this was because of Nero's jealousy about Misonious’s rising fame as a philosopher.

​Misonious returned home only after Nero had died, although he was exiled again later in life, and died in 100AD.

Although he is the least known philosopher of the four that I am outlining, his contributions to Stoicism cannot be overstated. And one of his best contributions ​to Stoicism was his greatest student, Epi​ctetus.

Epictetus, was born a slave to a man called Epaphroditus, who at the time was the administrative secretary to Nero. Seeing that Epictetus was highly intellectual and showed great talent, Epaphroditus sent him to Rome to study with Musonius Rufus, where he became an excellent student and was eventually freed from slavery after the emperor Nero had died.

Later, in 94 A.D., the Emperor Domitian banished Epictetus and other philosophers out of jealousy over their rising influence among the people of Rome. Sent away to Nicopolis, Epictetus made the best of his exile by establishing a school where he spent the rest of his life living in humble circumstances and teaching the fundamentals of Stoicism to eager students.

​​​Among those people highly influenced by the works of Epictetus was Marcus Aurelius, who studied the works of Epictetus as a young man. Marcus Aurelius is widely considered to be one of the five good Roman Emperors, and also one of the great Stoic philosophers. He, along with his brother, Lucius Verus, were groomed for Emperor status from a young age (although the two boys were completely different in terms of character and ability to lead). Lucius was highly indulgent in the vices, yet Marcus was focused on the study of philosophy and was dedicated to his duty as heir to the throne.

​Throughout his reign as emperor the Roman empire was struck by plague, war, and famine, yet amongst all of this turmoil Marcus Aurelius stayed true to his Stoic values. At one time it is said that he even sold large portions of his furniture and precious jewellery to help the people endure the hard times, and to set an example of sacrifice from the top down.

Through extreme illness, war, betrayal, and hardship, Marcus Aurelius shone as a brilliant example of a person whose life was dedicated to philosophy. During his life he wrote extensive notes on life, death, god, and philosophy, introducing the idea that death is always lingering over us, and so the only way to live a good life is to dedicate ones time to only good and agreeable causes.

​So that is a brief history of Stoicism and it's main philosophers, but where do we go from there? Is Stoicism still relevant today?

IS STOICISM STILL RELEVANT?

#d6b31f

Even though the roots of Stoicism date back more than 2000 years, the principles and values that were taught are still as relevant and ​useful today as they were then. In fact, now more than ever we are in need of practical philosophies that can help people to find true fulfillment and joy in life, and Stoicism offers most, if not all of those philosophies. ​

I believe that if something is true, then it is also timeless. A truth is not a truth unless it can stand firm throughout ​the ages, and I believe the ideas that the the Stoics championed truly have stood the test of time.

​Below is a list of people from modern history or today who have been highly influenced by Stoicism, just to give you an idea of how ​important and relevant ​this philosophy has been throughout history.


Tim Ferriss​​, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Theodore Roosevelt​, Bill Clinton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Joe Maddon, Tom Brady, T-Pain​​, Lupe Fiasco, John Steinbeck, Ralph Waldo Emerson, JK Rowling, Kevin Rose, Jack Dorsey, and Nelson Mandella.

SO WHAT ARE THE MAIN TEACHINGS OF STOICISM?

There are a few core values that the Stoics taught that can help anyone to live a beautiful and effective life. Here is my best list of the most important teachings of Stoicism:

​1 - Virtue is the Ultimate Goal

Virtue is the ultimate goal of life, and that to obtain virtue we must be in a constant search for knowledge and wisdom. Stoics teach that you are never too old or too young to start studying philosophy, and that time is never ill spent if it is spent in the pursuit of knowledge. We should be curious about life, nature, the arts, literature, and philosophy.

2 - Excess in Passions and Emotions Should be Limited

Excessive passions or emotional reactions should be limited, because they hinder our ability to think logically and they keep us from a virtuous life. Extremes in emotions should be avoided, because they are often irrational and based on whims, not reality. This is where you will get the colloquial use of the term “stoic” often used to describe someone who avoids emotional extremes, is calm under pressure, and is generally unresponsive to pain or torment. This is an interesting portrayal of a stoic, however it is not 100% accurate. Stoic philosophers actually encourage people to feel the emotions, and to experience happiness, joy, grief, love, sadness, and excitement, but at the same time they remind us to put these emotions in their proper place, and to not allow them to interfere with our ability to make good choices.

3 - Chance and Fortune Happens to us All

Stoics teach that you can’t change what is happening to you right now, but you can do your best to prepare to have a better future. The future can be molded by your actions now, but the present cannot. Chance and fortune definitely play defining roles in our lives, and stoics teach that the best way to live is to do the best that you can in everything that you do, all the while making sure that you are practicing becoming a virtuous person, because ill fortune cannot harm a mans virtue. A hurricane may take your house, but you will decide if it takes your mind.

4 - Harmonizing With Nature

​​​Stoics believe that nature holds all the necessities of life. If we order our lives according to the divine laws of nature then nothing can harm or surprise us, because no matter what stage of life we are in, we will always have the bare necessities to live a great and fulfilled life, and anything that happens to us is aligned with natures laws, so it cannot be so bad. Equally important is learning to appreciate all of nature’s beauty and wonder. The Stoics saw nature as an endless source of wisdom and abundance.

5 - Know What You Can Control, and What You Can’t

William B Irvine, a professor of philosophy and self-proclaimed Stoic, calls this the trichotomy of control, meaning that there are three possible options. First, there are things that we absolutely cannot control, such as the weather. Second, there are things that we can only partially control, like the way that people treat us. And third, there are things that we can fully control, such as the time and effort that we put into a project. When we become skilled at knowing what we can control and what we cannot then we are able to double our efforts towards those things that we can control, and stop worrying about the things that we can’t. This is helpful when it comes to our worries about the future because it allows us to stop focusing on what will happen tomorrow, and in stead start to focus on what we can do today that will create the outcome that we want tomorrow. Fearing the future is pointless because we cannot control the events that will come our way, but we can control our own actions today.

6 - Gratitude

Stoics teach that if you want to have a happy life then you should learn to love what you have in stead of being in a constant search for something new. If you can learn to fully appreciate all of the beauty in your life now then you will not be effected by that new car that’s on the market, or that new home that you want. You’ll think rationally, and you’ll recognise that even though it is nice to acquire new things, they do not bring long term happiness. It’s not about not wanting to progress, but it’s about finding a pure and full gratitude for all of the beauty that you experience in your life.

7 - Philosophy is for Everyone

Philosophy should be both accessible and useful to the general public. Anyone, if he or she desires, should be able to study philosophy and derive from it some goodness that will allow them to live a better life. Stoics sometimes even liken the philosopher to the doctor, arguing that people should, after a visit with a philosopher or teacher, always take away with them some useful information that will heal or strengthen their mind. Philosophy should not be concerned with pretentious semantics or clever wordplay, but in stead it should set its aim at bettering mankind.

8 - Put Negative Emotions in Their Rightful Place

We should rid ourselves of harmful emotions like hate, fear, lust, jealousy, sadness, and envy, and replace them with beautiful emotions. For example, if one of your loved ones were to die tomorrow, the stoic philosopher would likely counsel you to feel the grief, but then to begin to focus not on the death, but rather on all of the beautiful memories that you have about this person. Move your emotions from sadness and grief to joy and gratitude. Be grateful for all the time the you shared with that person, and put the negative emotions in their rightful place. Negative emotions are necessary at times, but we must always learn how to transition from negative emotions, which are harmful if felt excessively, to positive emotions, which are often helpful and rational.

9 - We Must Seek Harmony With Our Fellow Man

We must always seek to live in harmony with other people. We were all put on this earth in the same way, and we all share the same blood, so we should all care for each other to the best of our abilities. All of the Stoics at one time or another wrote about the need to treat other people as we would ourselves. Marcus Aurelius wrote about the fact that we all are born, and we all must die, so how are any of us different? Seneca expressed his disdain toward the cruel treatment of slaves, and the horrible entertainment of the coliseums where people were being thrown to lions. Epictetus was a slave himself, and expressed no negative feelings towards his previous masters. Musonious Rufus expressed his view that it should not only be men who study philosophy, but women also, seeing as all people, regardless of gender, can benefit from philosophy. Stoics focus on what makes us all the same, not what makes us different.

10 - Understand the Frailty of Life

Everything is destined to perish. Death should not be feared, but rather it should be constantly on our minds as a source of inspiration. In fact, the Stoics would say “Memento Mori”, which means “remember you must die.” Remembering that one day we will die should serve as a great source of inspiration; a reminder that we should be filling our days with as much life as possible. You should live more, love more, walk away from negative emotions, and become the person who you want to be, because tomorrow it could all be gone. And this doesn’t only apply to death. For example, Stoics teach that we should rehearse poverty because the truth of life is that nothing lasts forever, and so what you have today may be gone tomorrow. If you are always aware that tomorrow you may lose everything then it won’t be a crippling surprise to you if or when you do lose it all. By constantly pondering the frailty life, stoics are better able to live in the moment, because they understand that every day in the light is an incredible blessing, one that should be cherished, like a flower that will soon wilt.  



So these are what I believe to be the core values of stoicism. There may be more, but based on my own studies and experience this is the best list that I could assemble, and I hope that it helps you to better understand what being a stoic is all about.

​WHERE TO FROM HERE? 

EPISODE 3 - The Core Values of Stoicism

Welcome to episode 3 of the practical stoic podcast. in this episode I’ll be going through what I believe to be the 9 core values of stoicism. As with any philosophy there are a few themes that come up often in the teachings, and so I hope that this will help you to better understand the philosophy of stoicism so that you can begin to implement some of the strategies in your life.

The first core value of stoicism is based around the idea that Virtue is the ultimate goal, And that to obtain virtue we must be in a constant search for knowledge and wisdom. Stoics teach that you are never too old or too young to start studying philosophy, and that time is never ill spent if it is spent in the pursuit of knowledge. Stoicism teaches that we should be curious about life, nature, the arts, literature, and philosophy.

The second core belief of stoics is that Exessive passions or emotional reactions should be limited. Passion is neither good nor bad, but if it interferes with your quest for virtue then it is bad. Extremes should be avoided, for they are often irrational and based on whims, not reality. This is where you will get the quiloquial use of the term “stoic” often used to describe someone who avoids emotional extremes, is calm under pressure, and is generally unresponsive to pain or torment. This is an interesting portrayal of a stoic, however it is not 100% accurate. Stoic philosophers actually encourage people to feel the emotions, and to experience happiness, joy, grief, love, sadness, and excitement, but at the same time they remind us to put these emotions in their proper place. To demonstrate this I will give you a couple of scenarios.

Imagine you’re having a conversation with a person and all of a sudden that person says something that insults or offends you heavily. Now, you fill up with negative emotions and you want to say something. You want to put them in their place, but now imagine that time stops, and you float above yourself and see a new perspective. while you’re out of your body and watching the paused moment, you consider your options before reacting to this situation. You could scold that person and show them how mad you are, but that would be an irrational response because it is based on negative emotions that have shown themselves only because of what someone has said. You won’t change that person if you get angry, but rather you will be lowering yourself to your most basic animal instincts, which makes you no better than the person who insulted you. The stoic response? Realise that people will always insult you. that is the natural thing for them to do, so you should expect no better. Respond reasonably, and walk away knowing that you have lived in accordance with your better self, as opposed to your basic animal instinct. This doesn’t mean that you should be a pushover, but it means that you should always choose to react in the way that is most reasonable and most virtuous.

Another example. you’re about to buy your dream car, the one you’ve always wanted.You’re at the lot and you’ve just taken it for a spin. It’s perfect, although it’s a little over your budget. You’re so excited and you want to drive away with that car today. You’re about to sign the papers and again, time pauses. You go outside your body and this time you travel forward into the future. You look thoroughly at the ramifications of buying this car and you realise that the feelings that you have right now will only last about two weeks. After that time the excited feelings of owning a new car will have died, and now you will be left with the truth of the matter which is that you’ve spent too much on a car and now you are stuck with the payments, which you will have to work harder to afford. you go back into your body at the car lot, and you have two options. the first is to buy the car, which will give you very temporary happiness followed by expensive payments and longer work weeks, or you can choose to be happy with the car you already have and realise that what you're searching for is a false sense of fulfilment.

See stoics don’t avoid emotions, but rather they know how to put each emotion in it’s proper place. Passions and emotions are not to be avoided, but managed.

The third core belief has to do with fate. Stoics believe that you can’t change what is happening to you right now, but you can do your best to prepare to have a better future. The future can be moulded by your actions now, but the present cannot. Fate definitely plays a role in our lives, and stoics teach that the best way to live is to do the best that you can in everything that you do, all the while making sure that you are practicing becoming a virtuous person, because fate cannot harm a mans virtue. Do the best you can, and become a student of life. Then you can accept any outcome gladly because you’ve done your best, and that is all that you can do. Stoic philosophers teach us to Accept and be grateful for what we have, all the while working towards making it better.

The fourth core value of stoicism is the idea that we should live perfectly aligned with Nature. Stoics believe that nature holds all the necessities of life. If we order our lives according to the devine laws of nature then nothing can harm or surprise us, because no matter what stage of life we are in, we will always have the bare necessities to live a great and fulfilled life, and anything that happens to us is aligned with natures laws, so it cannot be so bad. If good fortune comes our way, great! But if bad fortune comes our way, then we must accept it, because all that we can control is our interpretation of those events, and our subsequent reactions. We cannot control the weather, but we can control how we view and respond to a rainy day.

The next core value of stoicism is Knowing what you can control and what you can’t. William B Irvine, a professor of philosophy and self-proclaimed stoic, calls this the trichotomy of control, meaning that there are three possible options. First, there are things that we absolutely cannot control, such as the weather. Second, there are things that we can only partially control, like the way that people treat us. And third, there are things that we can fully control, such as the time and effort that we put into a project.. When we become skilled at knowing what we can control and what we cannot then we are able to double our efforts towards those things that we can control, and stop worrying about the things that we can’t. This is helpful when it comes to our worries about the future because it allows us to stop focusing on what will happen tomorrow, and in stead start to focus on what we can do today that will create the outcome that we want tomorrow. Fearing the future is pointless because we cannot control the events that will come our way, but we can control our own actions today.

This core value is also very helpful when it comes to goal setting. When we set a goal we should be looking to set internal goals, as opposed to external goals. Internal meaning we have the power to control the outcome of our goal, and external meaning we have limited or no power over the outcome. Irvine gives the example of a tennis player who sets the internal goal to always play his best, because this is something he can control, and if he achieves this then he has the highest chance of winning his matches. He should not, however, set the goal to always win the match because this is something that is only partially in his control, seeing as no matter what he does, the other player may be better, and so if he loses he will feel extremely disapointed, as opposed to feeling great about the effort that he gave.

Next, a core value of stoicism is Gratitude. Stoics teach that if you want to have a happy life then you should learn to love what you have in stead of being in a constant search for something new. If you can learn to fully appretiate all of the beauty in your life now then you will not be effected by that new car that’s on the market, or that new home that you want. You’ll think rationally, and you’ll recognise that even though it is nice to acquire new things, they do not bring long term happiness. See, It’s not about not wanting to progress, but it’s about finding a pure and full gratitude for all of the beauty that you experience in your life. This is a worthy skill to develop in my view.

The seventh core value of stoicism is the idea that philosophy should be both accessible and useful to the general public. Anyone, if he or she desires, should be able to study philosophy and derive from it some goodness that will allow them to live a better life. Stoics sometimes even liken the philosopher to the doctor, arguing that people should, after a visit with a philosopher or teacher, always take away with them some useful information that will heal or strengthen their mind. Philosophy should not be concerned with pretentious semantics or clever wordplay, but in stead it should set its aim at bettering mankind.

Next, stoics believe that we should rid ourselves of harmful emotions like hate, fear, lust, jealousy, sadness, and envy, and replace them with beautiful emotions. For example, if one of your loved ones were to die tomorrow, the stoic philosopher would likely councel you to feel the grief, but then to begin to focus not on the death, but rather on all of the beautiful memories that you have about this person. Move your emotions from sadness and grief to joy and gratitude. Be grateful for all the time the you shared with that person, and put the negative emotions in their rightful place. Negative emotions are necessary at times, but we must always learn how to transition from negative emotions, which are harmful if felt exessively, to positive emotions, which are often helpful and rational.

The ninth core value of stoic philosophy is the idea that We must live in harmony with other people. We were all put on this earth in the same way, and we all share the same blood, so we should all care for each other to the best of our abilities. All of the main stoic philosophers have at times written about our need to be in complete harmony with the rest of mankind. Marcus aurelius wrote about the fact that we all are born, and we all must die, so how are any of us different? Seneca expressed his distain toward the cruel treatment of slaves, and the horrible entertainment of the colosseums where people were being thrown to lions. Epictetus was a slave himself, and expressed no negative feelings towards his previous masters. Musonious Rufus expressed his view that it should not only be men who study philosophy, but women also, seeing as all people, regardless of gender, can benefit from philosophy. Stoics focus on what makes us all the same, not what makes us different.

They also believe that humans are generally rational creatures, meaning that, given the context of a persons life and experiences, a person will generally make decisions that make sense to them.  They won’t usually make choices that in their view would harm themselves or other people, and so if they do make poor choices it would be due to their ignorance or misunderstanding.

This is a beautiful way to view people, because it opens the heart to understanding, in stead of judgement. If we can understand that people are generally good, and generally rational, then we can understand that there are many different sides to any issue, and so it is only natural that at times we will all disagree. For example, If someone says something that offends you, it is probably not because they went out of their way to offend you, because that would be irrational, but rather it is your own interpretation of their words that is offending you. They were probably just speaking their truth, and so it seemed reasonable to them, but Now you can talk to them and help them to understand how that was offensive to you, in stead of placing all the blame on their side.

Finally, the tenth core value of stoicism is based around death and misfortune. Stoics believe that death should not be feared, but rather it should be constantly on our minds as a source of inspiration. In fact, they would say Memento mori, which means “remember you must die.” Remembering that one day we will die should serve as a great source of inspiration; a reminder that we should be filling our days with as much life as possible. You should love more, live more, walk away from negative emotions, and become the person who you want to be, because tomorrow it could all be gone.

And this doesn’t only apply to death. for example, Stoics teach that we should rehearse poverty because the truth of life is that nothing lasts forever, and so what you have today may be gone tomorrow. If you are always aware that tomorrow you may lose everything then it won’t be a crippling suprise to you if or when you do lose it all.

By constantly pondering the frailty life, stoics are better able to live in the moment, because they understand that every day in the light is an incredible blessing, one that should be cherished, like a flower that will soon wilt.  

So these are what I believe to be the core values of stoicism. There may be more, but based on my own studies and experience this is the best list that I could assemble, and I hope that it helps you to better understand what being a stoic is all about.

Before I go, if you’d like more information or to see the show notes you can head to my website: risetothegoodlife.com. There I have heaps of blog posts, another podcast called “searching for good”, and much more free stuff. If you would  prefer to follow me on Facebook you can find me at daily stoic quotes, or just my name, Simon Drew. On My daily stoic quotes page, as the name suggests, i post an amazing stoic quote every day. So like that if you want to be inspired daily by the great stoic philosophers.


If you have any feedback please don’t hesitate to message me on facebook, or go and send me an email via my website, again that’s rise
I’ll see you next time when I bring the first quote of the show, Until then, I hope that this episode has helped you in your search of the good live, see you soon.  

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