Stoicism Will Get You Through Challenging Times

“To bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden.” – Seneca
If you are somewhat familiar with Stoicism, you will know that Stoics relish the difficult and more challenging times. Life is a constant cycle of ups and downs, peaceful times and tough times. There is no escaping this cycle, as it is part of the universal law.
Peaceful times need very little training. Everything moves along swimmingly, it is business as usual and things are going more or less the same. For many of us, this is the preferred scenario – a place to get comfortable and without much thought, action or resilience needed. However, these peaceful periods are just one side of the coin. As you know by now, your life (and the life of people) all over the world can suddenly be turned upside down by chaos that seemingly arrives from nowhere. The truth is, as the saying goes, change is the only constant.

Relishing Challenges and Change

 

The Stoics are not like normal people though. They relished the times of change and difficulty – it was not just the time to study their philosophy, it was time to embody it. They believed that the times of quiet, reflection and study were simply the preparation for when life hits at full force. Epictetus, one of the most famous Stoics, captures this idea perfectly:

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”

The Stoics had a very real way of looking at the world – something that is not common at all in our society. Our culture and what we are brought up to believe is that challenging times are times for complaining, wishing things were different, remembering a better past or a promising future, or hiding away until the storm passes.

Pressure Creates the Diamond

 

What the Stoics recognised is that turbulent times, if used in the correct way, create stronger, more durable and ultimately more successful human beings. Because difficult times require you to dig much deeper than you usually go into yourself, you discover parts of you that you never knew you had. You discover strength that you didn’t know was there.

Underneath all of the surface-level chaos, you find a deep peace that can only be found when challenges are met head-on, not when you are trying to run from them. You find deep compassion, resilience and wisdom that you didn’t know existed or had accessed to.

“Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

Challenging times are the perfect time to dig deeper into the philosophy of Stoicism and to start or continue to practice the values that the philosophy holds at its core. Concepts like Amor Fati are the perfect reminders that fate is not in our hands, but we can move and act gracefully and purposefully in all that we do. Memento Mori reminds us that death is watching over us, so there is no time to be afraid of living.

Stoics revel in tough times and see them as an opportunity to ‘level up’.

You can join them by simply saying ‘Yes’ to challenging times and seeing it as a time to grow and become stronger, rather than a time to cower away like the many.

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