In the liquid society as defined by Zygmunt Bauman, where everything is ephemeral and impermanent, even relationships, the stoic philosophy conquers protagonism and consolidates itself as a lifestyle alternative for those who want to escape from overstimulation in search of a more meaningful and relaxed lifestyle.
Epictetus was one of the most famous Stoics. He thought that the secret of happiness consisted in radical acceptance and in living simply in communion with nature, depending as little as possible on material goods. He also thought that the source of suffering lies in our inability to take a psychological distance from what happens to us and develop a more logical and less emotional perspective.
In fact, he advised: “Don't expect things to go your way. Rather want them to go as they go and you will be happier. " His philosophy encourages us to abandon our expectations, which in many cases are a source of dissatisfaction and suffering, and learn to face reality as it is.
The philosopher of non-worry
“Of the things that exist in the world, some are in our power, some are not. An opinion, a desire, an impulse, a refusal and, in one word, how many of our acts depend on us.
On the other hand, the body, the goods, the reputation, the offices, and, to put it in a word, how many are not our actions are in our power.
The things that depend on us are by nature free, unhindered, clear, those that are not in our power are devoid of strength, slaves, full of obstacles, strangers.
Remember, therefore, that if you deem free actions that are slaves by nature, and your own those that do not belong to you, then you will be hindered, you will cry, you will be upset, you will blame gods and men.
If, on the other hand, you consider that only what belongs to you is yours, while you judge extraneous, as it really is, that which is extraneous, no one will ever force you. Nobody will stand in your way. You will not blame anyone, you will not accuse anyone. You will do nothing against your will. Nobody will harm you. You will have no enemies. In fact, you will not suffer anything harmful.
If you aspire to such a high condition, remember that a modest effort is not enough to achieve it.
Certain external things must be eliminated from the mind, others thought at the right time, and you must devote yourself above all to the care of yourself.
Because, if at the same time you want to obtain the aforementioned goods and dignity and wealth at the same time, it is possible that you will not get anything, because if you follow the riches without worrying about growing internally, you will undoubtedly be deprived of them, because only through the growth of yourself themselves you can enjoy bliss and freedom.
Therefore to each appearance that will happen to you in life, first of all get used to saying: this is an appearance, and it is not exactly what it seems to be.
Then begin to examine it and frame it in your mind, and that is to see if it belongs to the things that are in our faculty, or to those that are not. And belonging to those who are not, this sentence comes from your heart: - That doesn't matter to me. "
The five teachings of Epictetus
Epictetus puts his finger on the wound. It encourages us to reflect on how our often unreal expectations are the source of much of our suffering. When we pretend that reality is different, that it conforms to our desires and we want to control everything that happens, even the things over which we have no control, frustration comes. Epictetus, on the contrary, advises us to flow with life to protect our mental balance.
His words can be summed up in 5 great teachings that should become our mantra:
- There are things that depend on us, others are beyond our control. The sooner we hire it, the better
- If we intend to control everything, we will open the door to dissatisfaction, frustration and unhappiness
- Genuine freedom comes from understanding the difference between what depends on our efforts and what doesn't depend on us. This way we can focus our energies on what we can truly achieve
- Life is about winning and losing, to achieve some things we must give up others, we cannot have everything
- We have to accept everything that happens. Denying reality will lead us to assume dysfunctional behaviors, on the contrary, accepting it is the first step to change what we can change