There was a recent episode in my life where I lost my emotional balance. Up to that point I had always tried to keep myself level. I would allow jabs at my character and my abilities to slide off or to deflect so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotional impact. That day I wasn’t successful.
From the emotional outburst, I took away one key reminder. I had allowed my practice of Stoicism to slip into the deepest recesses of my mind where it could no longer provide me with any balance. I had once again slipped into the sea of emotion that has caused me endless trouble in the past. I only wore the mask of the Stoic while ignoring the rising turmoil beneath.
I am not new to Stoicism. Having studied a number of entrepreneurs who espoused the benefits of Stoic practices I was naturally drawn to the philosophy. I must say, though, that my practice was and is somewhat fractured and runs in spurts. I’ve grabbed as many stoic manuals as I could find and didn’t really give much thought to the different angles of thought each author gives to the subject. At the end of each bout, I’d come away feeling superior to all others due to my Stoic practice, not realizing that I’d completely missed the point of all the information. From Epictetus and his manual and discourses to Marcus Aurelius and the Meditations, it was all up in my head floating around and being steadily forgotten. I’d practice mindfulness for a while until the flow of my day kept my mind busy on tasks. Thus each stint of Stoic research would ultimately end in a return to baseline behavior.
With that pathetic review of my past experiences with Stoicism out of the way I return to the title of this post. Why Stoicism? Despite my start and stop practice and my seeming inability to grasp the core ideas of Stoicism, it gives me peace. For the short time that I am able to live by the principles and attempt to better myself, I am at peace. It is harder to prod me into an emotional outburst, and I feel better able to handle the day-to-day flow of my life. The practice of mindfulness helps me see where I am being unreasonable and where I can improve. For a short time, I feel as though I am improving.