It’s a proven fact that there’s no easy way to achieve success, however, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be worth it to try. Another wide misconception of success is that it equates to financial wealth. We all desire for financial freedom after all. However, what makes this a pretty difficult dilemma is that most people will fall into the materialism trap.
In order to truly know how to achieve success, let’s look back on the wisdom of philosophers in ancient times. Stoicism is a school of thought originating in Greece that teaches the importance of our reaction and thinking. One should be able to accept the moment presented and not allow ourselves to succumb to fears and impulses. Above all else, it emphasizes that how we react to the situations in our life ultimately predicts our future.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Here are the Secrets of Success Stoicism teaches us
You don’t control what happens to you but you can control how you respond to it
This is the main teaching of the stoics; to control how you respond rather than blame it all on the situation. Everything that happens to us in the Universe doesn’t have to be perceived as unfortunate. What matters is how we channel our emotions and use our thinking to rise above it. For example, you just have lost your job, of course, it would be a disastrous event. It’s only normal that you would feel shaken and a little depressed. As you process and acknowledge those negative emotions, it is important to always take a pause, reassess, and set new goals after it.
Stoicism teaches us how to bounce back from misfortune and how you can forge your own path to success resiliently. Failure teaches us vital lessons in life and while they may be disheartening one should always learn from them not succumb to them.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own … ” —Epictetus
Epictetus was a stoic who also experienced the clutches of slavery. Despite his predicaments though, he has adopted his “chief task in life” which is “ta eph hemin, ta ouk eph hemin”. It means that we should be able to distinguish what is up to us and what is not up to us. Through this realization, one can then truly embrace control of his life to not be buckled by misfortune.
Every new day brings new beginnings
Stoics believed that each day we have in life has a purpose. And to be able to perceive this purpose-driven life, one should realize that each new day brings a new beginning. There are new opportunities and there will be new lessons to be learned. Each action, each conversation, each “random” event that happens in a single day can propel you to a different trajectory in life. Which is why it’s important to view each new day to be brimming with possibilities.
Likewise, if you experience a bad day, you have to realize that what’s done is done. That single day does not entirely define your whole life. The Stoics emphasized that we can always begin again.
Find a mentor that can teach you
The Stoics all have mentors in their journeys. Cleanthes had Zeno. Cato had Sarpedon. Seneca had Attalus. Epictetus had Musonius Rufus. Marcus Aurelius had Rusticus — who turned him onto Epictetus. Chryssipus had Cleanthes. Antipater had Diogenes. Panaetius had Crates. Posidonius had Panaetius. Thrasea had Cato. You too can find that mentor who will evidently teach you.
“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell
You don’t necessarily have to walk up to someone and just ask “can you be my mentor?” that’s not how it works. A mentor is someone that willingly teaches you even without prompting. Their goal is not to mold you into their likeness but only to teach you the wisdom behind their failures in life. Not only that but because we are now living in the Age of Information, most of us can begin to find these mentors on free platforms like Youtube. There are countless blogs and books written by amazing authors that can also impart the lessons you need.
The key here is that, unlike the philosophers of ancient times, you now have the capacity to use your resources and find wisdom in just a click. Make use of it.
Follow the four virtues
Stoicism follows four main virtues and they are Courage, Justice, Wisdom, and Temperance. You see, despite all the advancement we now experience, these four virtues still remain elusive to most if not all. They are important virtues that build one’s character to success. Courage talks about bravery and how you can face on challenges despite the fear of failure. Justice emphasizes us to do what’s right and not just what feels right to us. Wisdom tells us to seek the truth and understand it. And Temperance reminds us of self-control against the indulgences of life that may derail us.
These four virtues do not only help you reach success but also make you a better person and maybe a future mentor to someone that needs your wisdom just like where you are now.
Humility kills pride
Humility is the enemy of pride and once you wield this, you can then vanquish your inner foes and achieve contentment in life. The key here is that one should realize that success shouldn’t be measured by material things. With humility, you can keep your virtues and character intact even if you experience a huge success. The core of Stoicism is that one should not be corrupted by power and success but instead live a contented life.
“If what you have seems insufficient to you, then though you possess the world, you will yet be miserable.”―
Yes, we all want material wealth because it is a concrete manifestation of achievement. But if you are dictated by your ego, you will end up far worse when you were just starting. Humility is the antidote to pride, and with it, you can feel empowered and truly happy with where you are in life.
Embrace your mortality
All of us will soon die and one should embrace this fact. It’s not merely about being pessimistic or nihilistic, the truth is, once you fully embrace your mortality you can then be freed. Do things wholeheartedly, whether it be a simple task, household chores, conversations, you have to make the most of it. Act as if it’s your last day here on Earth so that you won’t be ridden by regrets and have a purpose-driven life.
“If I had my life over again I should form the habit of nightly composing myself to thoughts of death. I would practice, as it were, the remembrance of death. There is no other practice which so intensifies life. Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise. It should be part of the full expectancy of life. Without an ever-present sense of death, life is insipid. You might as well live on the whites of eggs.”―
Success can be a fickle thing to some who don’t truly see it as more than just material abundance. One should be able to look past beyond this and fully embrace the present rather than preoccupying yourself with the future.
Here are also some beautiful and wise quotes on Stoicism that you might want to read.
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”
“A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.”
“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind.”
“It is not the man who has too little that is poor, but the one who hankers after more.”
“What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.”
“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” – Marcus Aurelius
If you want to continue accumulating wisdom in your life then read more quotes on motivation, success, and achieving your dreams from successful people themselves here.