Why Is Stoicism Popular?

Why stoicism is popular

Stoicism was developed before the birth of Christ. It was founded in one of the most dominant empires in the world at the time: The Roman Empire. So why then would it rise to prominence again in the 21st century?

Why is Stoicism popular again today?

Have you ever heard of emotional intelligence, growth mindsets, mind over matter, and spirituality?

At the moment, these topics are at the height of their popularity which brings stoicism to the forefront once again.

What’s more important though, is that these topics were addressed by the philosophy centuries ago.

You don’t believe me, right? You don’t have to.

Read Seneca’s letter 41: “God is near you, he is with you, he is within you”,

And letter 78 “Stating at the outset that these very aids to my peace of mind were as efficacious as medicine. Honorable consolation results in a cure; and whatever has uplifted the soul helps the body also.”

No Seneca today?

Let’s take a look at Marcus Aurelius´ Meditations 11.1-2:

“These are the characteristics of the rational soul: self-awareness, self-examination, and self-determination. It reaps its own harvest (…) It succeeds in its own purpose (…)”

“Man conquers the world by conquering himself”, have you ever heard that one?

Maybe in a late best-seller you’ve just read?

Well, it’s attributed to the founder of Stoicism Zeno Of Citium. 

If you’re an avid reader of philosophy and psychology, what you’ll come to realize is that many of our modern ideas stem from the stoic school.

Why so?

Because they were designed to withstand the test of time.

Stoicism Addresses Emotional Intelligence 

Let’s start with emotional intelligence. It’s a concept developed by Daniel Goleman and it’s based on four pillars: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. 

Epictetus speaks a great deal about taking the time to know yourself so you can learn self-awareness and management (the first two pillars).

Seneca talks about how to behave in the world, all while resisting immorality. He urged people to practice what they preach, becoming role models of their virtuous beliefs (last two pillars). 

Goleman has in a way reworded what the great philosophers before him said. He has brought this knowledge into the business world, essentially though they were the ideas that Epictetus and Seneca developed.

Stoicism Encourages A Growth Mindset

Let’s move on to Mrs. Dweck. In her book Mindset, she explains the existence (sometimes coexistence) of two mindsets: growth and fixed. And again, this is exactly what the Stoics spoke about.

“Important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. Plus, allies in learning.” – Carol Dweck.

The stoics say you don’t own the future for it is yet to be, you don’t own the past since it is already gone, the only thing you can own is the present. Then would there be any other way of having clear focus, if one is not being present?

The Stoics were also great advocates of reason, because reason was the vehicle which allowed humans to find the ultimate good. In other words, reason is the mechanism used to build positive strategies.

Another awesome teaching of hers is “Don’t judge, teach”. Again, a well addressed Stoic principle. 

Stoicism and Healing

Last, but not least is healing. Now more than ever we’re exposed to stories of people who damaged their spines to the point of paralysis. Yet, miraculously they regained movement.

Seneca states in many of his letters that the mind can be trained just as the body, making it even better, stronger and sharper.


He acknowledges that faith and love are tools that help the body in its healing. And as we learn more about the world of the unseen, and about the placebo effect. We begin to wonder if there is more to this world than meets the eye.

There are many subjects related to and developed by Stoicism that may be classified as news today.

The philosophy goes way beyond the stern image we may all believe Stoics carry. Yet it endures as an all encompassing tool for developing a happy life.

Keep that in mind next time you choose a best-seller.