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A Guide to the Good Life

In ancient Greece, there were philosophers, later known as Stoics, who argued for a life of moderation and greater self-control in order to achieve peace of mind and avoid frustration and pain.

A Stoic could enjoy a good meal and companionship, as long as he didn’t depend on such pleasures all the time. In our modern, material world, the Stoics would argue that we shouldn’t rely on expendable goods that promise short-lived happiness. Rather, we should find happiness and joy within.

By tranquility, the Stoics aren’t referring to a vacant, impassive state. Rather, tranquility is achieved by doing away with all negative emotions. Doing this allows our positive emotions to shine through.

Tranquility is itself closely connected to virtue. To become virtuous, you need to use your powers of reason; the same goes for reaching a tranquil state of mind. Leading a tranquil and thus a good life implies that you can take control of yourself, preventing your emotions from overwhelming you or dominating your intellect.

In order to fight our consumerist insatiability, we must learn to appreciate what we already have.

Hedonic Adaption – Even though a lot of us think of ourselves as fairly noble and reasonable people, we all share one troublesome imperfection: We always want more, even though many of us are aware that getting whatever it is we want won’t ultimately make us happier than we are.

Stoics developed methods to help one appreciate the things and people in one’s environment. One such method is called negative visualization.

Voluntary discomfort is one step toward appreciating the people and things in your life.

The magical thing here is that when you focus on yourself and your abilities, as opposed to winning the tennis match, you might actually perform better, and in doing so heighten your chances of winning – by not focusing on winning!

It’s pointless to get angry about others or seek their approval.

We should not let wealth corrupt us.

According to the Stoics, your mental state contributes far more to your happiness than wealth.

Becoming a Stoic will change your life – but you shouldn’t rush.

Another benefit of being a Stoic is that decision-making becomes easier. All you have to do is determine whether a decision helps or hinders your tranquility, and whether or not it will help you attain the goals you have set for yourself. This simple step diminishes the chances of taking a wrong turn in your life and doing something that you may regret later.

Lastly, try not to project negatively onto other people. Keep in mind that everyone has their faults! As you practice these steps, you’ll find yourself in a state of mind that is far more conducive to experiencing the pure joy of being.

Stoic philosophy advises us to aim for tranquility and virtue, learn to subdue negative emotions and enjoy moderation. By living a Stoic life, we can find joy in the things and people we have around us, and within ourselves.