When people say, “That guy is so stoic!” they usual mean he is tough.
But a “hard” type of tough.
For example, he (or she) can withstand a shark munching on them without wincing.
But there is a soft side to Stoicism, and it can help you manage your finances… Really well.
The Bottom Line
Stoicism cuts to the chase.
It is practical.
Author Ryan Holliday calls it an “actionable philosophy”:
A brief synopsis on this particular school of Hellenistic philosophy: Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, but was famously practiced by the likes of Epictetus, Cato, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. The philosophy asserts that virtue (such as wisdom) is happiness and judgment be based on behavior, rather than words. That we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.
But at the very root of the thinking, there is a very simple, though not easy, way of living. Take obstacles in your life and turn them into your advantage, control what you can and accept what you can’t.
In the words of Epictetus:
“In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.”
I like this point of view.
It says we have control over our life experience.
We can actually determine our response to situations – and thereby influence them.
Empowerment Through Self-Control
Too often we are told that things just “happen.”
That we are simply puppets on a string and are pulled in different directions by forces beyond our control – including economic forces.
A tight job market.
A slow economy.
“Bad stuff happens” “out there,” so bad stuff happens to us.
Stoicism says… “Not So Fast”:
Theodore Roosevelt, after his presidency, spent eight months exploring (and nearly dying in) the unknown jungles of the Amazon, and of the eight books he brought on the journey, two were Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and Epictetus’ Enchiridion.
Indeed, Teddy seems to represent the temperance and self control of the philosophy beautifully when he said, “What such a man needs is not courage but nerve control, cool headedness. This he can get only by practice”. Likewise he expressed the necessity of action advocated by the Stoics when he famously remarked,
“We must all wear out or rust out, everyone of us. My choice is to wear out”.
Our experience of life is what we make it.
Tight market? I take the challenge of shaking things loose in my own sector.
Slow economy? Let me show you how we can speed things up.
Stoicism is about empowerment:
- Our actions are entirely within our control – even when we have “automatic” responses.
- Because of this, we have the ability to make decisions that we feel are right for us – and not simply to the advantage of someone else.
- In consistently acting in our own interest, we shape world events more towards beneficial results for us.
Bad Things Don’t Have to Stay Bad
Let me tell you something:
Buying life insurance is one of the most stoic things you can do.
Widows and orphans don’t end up impoverished for no good reason. Many times, it is because their breadwinner had no policy in place to provide for them upon his demise.
Same with many business who go belly-up when they lose a key person who was uninsured.
Bad things happen, like losing the most important people in our lives. But proper financial and insurance planning cannot only prevent them from getting worse, but can turn them into a pivot point for moving forward. And that is being “stoic.”
What about you? Do you have some stoicism in you? Do you like how it feels?