Stoicism for happiness: the dichotomy of control

Naturally, I stumbled upon stoicism during one of the worst times of my life.

It was fall 2016. I have just started my first semester of grad school and had to take a social theories class that was required for all sociology majors. Quite frankly, that class made me feel so utterly incompetent and useless, I might have considered to mention it on a suicide note that, thankfully, I never got around to. Despite the brilliant and quite interesting professor, I could not figure out Foucault to save my life, and lucky for me, the whole course was on Foucault.

Here’s an accurate depiction of me in that class: 

Meditations

ancient architecture artistic arts

“At break of day, when you are reluctant to get up, have this thought ready to mind: ‘I am getting up for a man’s work. Do I still then resent it, if I’m going out to do what I was born for, the purpose for which I was brought into the world? Or was I created to wrap myself in blankets and keep warm?’ ‘But this is more pleasant.’ Were you born for pleasure— all for feeling, not for action? Can you not see plants, birds, ants, spiders, bees all doing their own work, each helping in their own way to order the world? And then you do not want to do the work of a human being— you do not want to hurry to the demands of your own nature.”


“… but there are many other qualities of which you cannot say, ‘but that’s not the way I am made’. So display those virtues which are wholly in your own power— integrity, dignity, hard work, self-denial, contentment, frugality, kindness, independence, simplicity, discretion, magnanimity. Do you not see how many virtues you can already display without any excuse of lack of talent or aptitude?”

— MARCUS AURELIUS