Cultivating Calm

Applying Stoic principles day by day

Welcome to The Stoa Letter, the newsletter on Stoic theory and practice.

🏛️ Theory

Life in ancient Greece and Rome was never easy. That’s why philosophers introduced systems like Stoicism. Ways of thought to help themselves and others overcome the obstacles of life.

But it isn’t just a philosophy of tolerating adversity – Stoics willingly accepted everything that happened to them. They didn’t just put up with fate, they loved it.

After all, what is the point of struggling against what is outside of your control? It is not up to you. Whether you struggle or not, it will come to pass. As the Stoics were fond of saying: fate guides the willing and drags the unwilling.

All we can do is respond to the world with our principles. Seneca neatly encapsulated Stoicism in three rules:

Hold fast to this thought, and grip it close: yield not to adversity; trust not to prosperity; keep before your eyes the full scope of Fortune’s power, as if she would surely do whatever is in her power to do. That which has been long expected comes more gently.

Like the Stoics, we can focus on making excellent decisions while embracing what is not up to us.

How you respond to the world is up to you. Embrace everything else. In doing so, one can live a skillful life. That’s the target.

Antifragility and acceptance aren’t just tools for feeling good, but living well in the deepest sense.

Although life was radically different in ancient Greece and Rome, like the ancients we too are faced with the question “who will you be”?

The Stoics encourage us to answer: “An excellent person, no matter the circumstances.”

🎯 Action

Bring to mind Seneca’s rules throughout the day:

  • Never give into adversity

  • Do not trust prosperity

  • Watch – and prepare for both

🏛️ We just refreshed our Cultivate Calm meditations on the Stoa app. Check it out.

📊 Buddhism was the clear winner of our last poll, with Confucianism coming in last place:

What other philosophies of life do you want to learn more about?

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🐕 Cynicism (4)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🍇 Epicureanism (5)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🤔 Skepticism (3)

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🔺 Platonism (7)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ☸️ Buddhism (17)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 📚 Confucianism (2)

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🎭 Existentialism (7)

45 Votes

I was surprised by Platonism’s strong showing. Let me know why you chose that, if you did.

Stay tuned for more on other philosophies of life…

📚️ Finally, check out the Culture Critic for a weekly missive on the beautiful art and history of the past. I’ve enjoyed what he’s shared and you may too:

Culture CriticA weekly inbox-cleanser: art, history, culture — join 50,000+ readers!

Which one of Seneca's rules resonates the most with you?

Focus on it today.

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Join the conversation

or to participate.