I have never really considered Philosophy as something useful during my whole life. Philosophy was our target of jokes at the Math Department (together with Psychology). During high school, we studied Literature and History, and the thoughts and ideas that marked historical periods, but we never really dove into, even basic, philosophical matters.
Even when I started to be interested in self help, brain functioning, and mindfulness, philosophy still was something nebulous and useless.
Today, as I’m writing this post while looking at the little bust of Marcus Aurelius I just made with the brand new 3D printer we bought in Idealize, I can say that Philosophy (especially Stoicism) plays a very important role in my life. I’d say that it shaped my actions, thoughts, and character.
I started to learn about Stoicism, a 2.000+ years old Philosophy, during the hardest time of my life. Well, I had read something about Stoicism on the Internet before that, but I just had a very broad sense of it. Everything changed after, or I’d say while, reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
Stoicism saved me
I was going through hard times in a romantic relationship I considered special. We had been together for more than 3 years, and things weren’t working out smoothly. Reading Marcus Aurelius helped me to put everything in perspective: all the things that were scaring me weren’t THAT important, after all. I was so afraid of losing what I had, but I then realized that I could lose it, be fine, accept changes as something natural, and remember that, soon or later, nothing will ever matter to me anymore (yes, speaking about Death here).
Eventually, my girlfriend broke up with me. I was feeling sad, I was upset, but I was ready to accept the new situations that I was about to face. I had lost something, I was gaining something new, and most of all: who cares?
During the following years, I became more and more familiar with Stoicism. I read several books, learned invaluable lessons, and incorporated some of the Philosophy into my life. I’m not saying that I became a different person, but I actually changed.
I now have an “instructions manual” for facing everyday’s situations and the toxic thoughts I’m so good in creating. I’m still acting in a pretty stupid way most of the time, but I have some knowledge that guides me into reflecting and acting better.
Awakening the Sage
You could think that a true Stoic Philosopher can be a Sage: indeed, the Sage is a common figure into some Stoic teaching. Stoics used to ask themselves questions like: “What would a Sage do?”. The Sage was probably something like a Mythological human.
Actually, Stoics knew that they weren’t Sages. They were trying to live virtuously, but they recognized that they couldn’t be perfect. Marcus was a man that was fighting to become better, Seneca admitted that he wasn’t perfect, especially regarding his wealth.
That said, Stoics think that improving our character, living in accordance with Nature’s laws (with Reason and Virtue), and cultivating a good Spirit is something we should do, if we want to live a good life. We won’t become a Sage, but we can become better. And that’s something worth pursuing.