Suppose, for example, that someone mocks us for being bald when we in fact are bald: Their actions can have the effect of disrupting our tranquility—if we let them.
What is interesting is that despite their determinism, despite their belief that whatever happened had to happen, the ancients were not fatalistic about the future. Consequently, before we try to win the admiration of these other people, we should stop to ask whether their notion of success is compatible with ours.
If we do this, our internal state will soon come to resemble our external state, and our anger, says Seneca, will have dissipated.
Indeed, Epictetus thinks the admiration of other people is a negative barometer of our progress as Stoics: On Loving Mankind Social Relations: His essays and letters are full of insight into the human condition. The proximity of death, rather than depressing us, can be turned to our advantage.
The obvious reason for doing this is to prevent those things from happening.
For one thing, he exercised great restraint in his use of power. When Stoics contemplate their own death, it is not because they long for death but because they want to get the most out of life.
Even though readers of this book are unlikely to be exiled by their government, they run a considerable risk, if current social trends continue, of being exiled by their children—exiled, that is, to a nursing home. On Seeking Fame Personal Values: If we think about these things, we will lessen their impact on us when, despite our efforts at prevention, they happen.
Tweet 15. One way to preserve our tranquility, the Stoics thought, is to take a fatalistic attitude toward the things that happen to us. What the Stoics were advocating, then, is more appropriately described as a program of voluntary discomfort than as a program of self-inflicted discomfort.
The most important sign that we are making progress as Stoics, though, is a change in our emotional life.
When people become hard to please, a curious thing happens. Because the Stoics valued tranquility and because they appreciated the power other people have to disrupt our tranquility, we might expect them to have lived as hermits and to advise us to do the same, but the Stoics did no such thing.
Those who took their philosophy seriously attempted to live that philosophy from day to day.
Zeno 333—261 BC was the first Stoic. What failing have you resisted? Epictetus advises us not to seek social status, since if we make it our goal to please others, we will no longer be free to please ourselves.