Since beginning her study of Stoicism in 2018, Brigid Delaney has used it frequently. Here is a summary of what she discovered.
It was fortunate that I developed an interest in Stoicism around the year 2018 because, by the time the pandemic hit, I was in desperate need of it.
“The hour is coming, the woman is coming!” As the borders closed in March 2020 and friends started contacting me for Stoic guidance, I said while holding Epietcus’ Enchiridion in my hands. They would text, “Inject that Stoicism into my veins!”
No role is so well adapted to philosophy as the one you happen to be in right now, according to Roman emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius.
It is real. The old Greco-Roman philosophy turned out to be an incredibly helpful tool when life started changing quickly and fear was in the air. Stoicism was saving my ass every day, even if there hadn’t been a pandemic: from coping with FOMO to the cost of living issue; from losing a job to the climate disaster; to heartache and loss. Everything was modeledpracticethe neighborhood after the Stoics, or at least had been well thought out by them. And a lot of their advice is just as relevant today as it was back then.
But how do you get started? And how can you put it into practice in your own daily life?
1. Work out what’s in your control
The “control test,” which is a cornerstone of stoicism and can be found in the Enchiridion, was extremely helpful to me throughout the early pandemic waves. I still use it every day to evaluate what I should and shouldn’t worry about, as well as to choose where I can take action and where I can focus my energy most effectively.
“Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, our reputation, our office, and, in a word, anything is not of our own doing,” stated Epictetus, whose handbook was published in around 125 CE.
Can’t go to work due to the snap lockdown? You have no control over it, but you can improve how you handle it. virus spreading over the neighborhood without a vaccine? Regardless of what you do, you can still safeguard others and yourself. The friend who is under stress gets too drunk and vents her loneliness on you? Although you cannot control what she does, you can control how you respond.