What's Your Stoic Story?

Stoicism as a philosophy for crisis and meaning

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

Every week we share two emails to help you build resilience and virtue with ancient philosophy.

🏛️ Theory

Many come to Stoicism after a personal crisis.

When they find that Stoicism really works, they integrate it more deeply into their life.

I’ve seen this happen often enough that it’s worth reflecting on why it does.

Stoicism is one of the most – if not the most – practically useful philosophies. Its a complete system for building resilience. This is reflected in its origins. Its founding begins with a crisis. In an instant, Zeno of Citium lost his ship and livelihood. He’s was forced to decide what to do next. After discovering Socrates, he chooses to become a philosopher. Later, he founded Stoicism.

Stoicism reminds us to focus on what’s in our control and teaches us how to be invulnerable. It offers a path for tranquility that’s available to anyone. The examples of Stoics, from Zeno’s students to modern practitioners, attest to this fact.

But what’s after resilience? This is where Stoicism as a life philosophy enters. Not only does philosophy help us weather life’s storms, but it also offers an account of our purpose.

We’re rational beings living in an ordered and beautiful universe. By living a virtuous life – one that accords with Nature – we live well.

All that is harmony for you, my Universe, is in harmony with me as well. Nothing that comes at the right time for you is too early or too late for me. Everything is fruit to me that your seasons bring, Nature. All things come of you, have their being in you, and return to you.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.23

Stoicism is a big tent. Some follow the tradition of Zeno as closely as they can. Others blend it into their own worldview or religion.

Either way, Stoic philosophy is about resilience and virtue. It’s a path available to anyone facing life’s challenges or seeking meaning.

How do you integrate it into your life? Where are you on the Stoic path?

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🎯 Action

If you feel inclined, let me know what your Stoic story is.

Has the philosophy helped you weather life’s storms? How has it helped you cultivate joy?

Just reply to this email or leave a comment.

I’d love to include more real-life examples of Stoicism in action. Stories from the ancients are powerful, but we need examples from moderns too.

Let me know if you prefer to stay anonymous or would rather not have your story shared.

🖇️ Links

🚨 A quote I think about a lot on the nature of crisis:

The word “crisis” comes from the Greek for choice or crossroads. Its core meanings are choice, challenge, opportunity, and risk. It is significant that we use the word to mean disaster, catastrophe, emergency, plight, and predicament.

Thomas Szasz

📗 Brittany Polat put together a helpful summary of Chris Gill’s Learning to Live Naturally here. Highly recommended if you already know a bit about Stoicism and want to know how a leading expert explains concepts like virtue, happiness, and indifferents.

When I first started studying Stoicism years ago, I kept reading about virtue, but I didn’t find a truly helpful description of the connection between virtue and happiness. In Learning to Live Naturally, Chris Gill fills this void by explaining the virtue-happiness relationship in a systematic and highly illuminating way.

Brittany Polat

📺️ Listen to this Stoic meditation on gratitude:

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