Stoicism’S Approach To Beat Suffering

• The Stoics, like the Buddhists, understood that pain is just a part of life, and taught that we need to retain quiet, dignified serenity in the face of adversity, focusing on what we can control, while accepting what we can’t. One way to practice the Stoic philosophy is to carefully consider your zone of control or, as Byron Katie suggests, identify what is your business, the other person’s business, and God’s business.

• Another technique is to use negative visualization to develop gratitude for everything you already have. By imagining that things could be a lot worse, you re-calibrate your expectations and focus more with appreciation on the present. We also desensitize ourselves to discomfort and learn that we can, in fact, endure it.

• One way to empower ourselves in the face of life’s pain is to take action. Action grounds us. We can always seek to elevate the situation we find ourselves in, draw on our strengths, and work with what we have. We can choose to build, create and solve problems. We can do this if we stop wasting energy on those things we have no hope of changing.

• Finally, we can become cognizant of the fact that resistance and struggle come with a cost, and inevitably cause us to suffer, all while doing nothing to improve our lives. Though our brains may be primed for a certain kind of negativity, we can always choose to create meaning, do a good deed or take productive action to improve things.

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Peter Hollins is a bestselling author, human psychology researcher, and a dedicated student of the human condition.

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