Updated: 3/28/2021

Length: 5 minutes

Practicing Stoicism

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Photo by Kristopher Roller

I am not a good stoic. I don't meditate regularly. I often lose my temper.

But that doesn't mean I don't try. And that doesn't mean you shouldn't either.

The essence of Stoicism is recognizing the reality of our and others' lives, accepting that reality as it is, and acting in the way that best serves all parties for the greater good, whether or not they recognize what's best.

The philosophy often aligns well with Utilitarianism, which at its essence can be summarized as being ultimately, and extremely, practical.

So I just like to say that being stoic is being practical. And I like that, because It means I can fall back to a simple mental model, a question with a binary response.

Is this practical?

When my toddler angers me, will my response be practical? Or will it just be emotional? Will it teach her -- and me -- to respond better in the future?

When a driver cuts me off, will my response be emotional? Will I properly communicate the error? Will my communication be properly received?

When I push a git branch for review and I get some harsh critism, will I take the criticism, and the reviewer, for what it is? Will I learn from it? Is the person normally this critical, or did they misunderstand? Did I misunderstand?

Being a stoic isn't easy. It means we have to reflect. A lot. On ourselves, our motivations, our desires and reactions. It means being hard, and forgiving. It means holding ourselves to a higher standard, and others to their own. It means putting ourselves in others' shoes. It means being humble, open, kind, persistent, just and courageous.

It makes us better.