6 Steps to Becoming a Stoic

So you’re interested in becoming a stoic? In this article, we’ll explore six tips from stoic philosophers to get you started.

Only thinking and reading about how to become a stoic can be idle work. You must be ready to commit every day to exercises in order to become one. First of all, you need to grasp how stoics looked at the world. In other words, you need to understand the basics of how to treat yourself and that which lies before you.

1. Value your mind 

Being a stoic means to value your own mind before all else. Your mind is the basic where your being starts and ends. According to stoics, it is the only place in which you can attain all control. To control your own mind is the first milestone of reaching happiness. 

Control isn’t something you should perceive as unattainable. At first it might be quite hard to get used to it, but with practice it will come naturally to you, and you will not struggle in the process. Controlling thoughts and emotions should become a natural act, and that is the conclusion of every stoic philosopher.  

To control a mind means that you are the only one who can think for yourself. You are the only responsible for your reactions to the external world. Events, other people, other objects are all in front of you, which means they are outside your mind. Those things are not controllable, and this can impact your inner-life in many different ways. 

2. Be aware of what you can and cannot control

This practice naturally follows from the last one and features in every single book or paper on stoicism. Stoics divided our thoughts into two: thinking about things that are controllable and those which are not. In the first category we find only soul, that is our inner state. The second category covers all that which is outside of the mind. 

If one tries to take control of external events, people, objects, etc., one will come out from that struggle defeated. You cannot control other people, nature, what others are thinking of you, etc. You can however influence how others perceive you, but that is not the same as control. In the true sense of the word, we can only control ourselves. 

3. Amor Fati : Accept what you cannot change

This is probably the hardest thing to do. We are often prone to think that our potential of influence is greater than our actual possibilities. That is because we don’t understand the difference between influence and control

For example, you can influence your boss to think of you in a positive light, but the outcome of your influence doesn’t need to be in your favor. The more we struggle to influence events or others, the less time will spend on ourselves. You will forget to reflect, because the outer things – on which you will think you have control – will take you away from yourself. 

Amor Fati comes from Latin and means to love your fate; in other words, don’t try to resist or ignore what comes to you. Embrace it, and make a stand. 

4. Stop wasting your time

We all like to be entertained, may it be with video games, TV shows, spending time on social media, and other stuff. However, have you ever caught yourself while you were looking pointlessly at the screen or while you were scrolling endlessly on your phone?

The present moment is the most important according to stoics, and you should be focused on it. Everything you can do, can think about falls into this elusive shortness of Now

There are many distractions which can occupy your attention. Try to focus as much as possible on the given moment. Reflect, come up with plans and act to progress yourself and life. 

5. Value your character over material gains

Your character is something that will be with you throughout your life. It is a quality of your personality. Stoics would agree that it is the only constant in your life. On the other hand, material gains are brief and expendable. You should perceive them as they truly are. 

Many people today are lost in material pursuits. Their life purpose is reflected in how much they can collect. Their well-being accordingly depends on that gain. Try to rise above that to decrease, and ultimately remove,  your reliance on material gains as your key to happiness. 

True investment is one which is focused on your character. Don’t allow the need for possessions to dictate your life decisions. After all, your character is the only thing which holds permanent value. 

6. Think and act in accordance with nature – according to your Reason

Human nature (or that which defines humans), according to stoics is reason. Therefore, one should be able to act and think with one’s own mind. Emotional responses are something that we share with other animals, but we are able to reflect on our own thoughts and actions in order to improve. 

In that sense, thinking before acting is what naturally comes to mind, when we say the word reason. Reasonable behaviour is different from emotional behaviour because, in the first case we are the ones in control, whereas the latter is reactionary. And thinking rationally completes the circle and brings us back to the very beginning of  valuing our minds above all else.