Tribe

I have done it. I have found my tribe, or at least one of them. The values of Christianity and other religions at a high level seemed good enough, but I was never fond of the idea of this ethereal and conscious being watching over billions of people at the same time. That, in fact, invalidated a lot of it for me. It reminds me of the old George Carlin routine and also what Ricky Gervais said about god being like an unpaid perfect nanny making sure you behaved while your parents were at work.

Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism

Which takes me to my discovery. Stoicism. Not a religion, not a science, but a philosophy. It is a philosophy followed by people from the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius(161 to 180) to many artists and leaders of the modern era.

This philosophy seems to have all benefits from religion: a way of living, community, advise, a connection with the universe, meditations and more, without the need of talking to an imaginary being or putting your problems in the hand of someone(god) or something(the government) else.

It teaches you to not react when your emotions are on fire, but to breathe, process and act later, if at all, instead. In summary: if it is in your nature and in your power to change something, change it and act upon it, if not, don’t worry about it and just take it as what it is.

It also teaches you techniques to prepare yourself for the inevitable or the probable, by imagining yourself in the worse possible outcome and scenario, and make it so that it is not as big of a catastrophe anymore by a form of rehearsal. This is a very useful technique to train yourself for a loss of a loved one, a job, and everything in between.

It is often said that some stoics would deprive themselves of their comforts just to separate themselves from their earthly possessions, making sure to always remember that you could lose it all at any moment and to not think of these things as necessary. Some people, for example, might go on minimalistic camping for days or go lapses of time without using electricity or, in our present, the internet.

Stoicism accentuates the topic of living according to your nature, like becoming an oak tree is the nature of an acorn, and to always strive to not deviate from your nature. How do you know what your nature is, then? The stoics say that, while you might not have a foolproof way of knowing, you will instinctively know when you are NOT living according to your nature, and you should change course and try new things. Rinse and repeat this process.

I believe(and I haven’t read this specifically in the stoicism literature), for example, some indications that you might not be living according to your nature might be that your body is not functioning as it should. Maybe you start developing insomnia, stress, or anxiety. Maybe you start clenching your teeth at night and develop TMjD. Or you feel tired even after hours of sleep. Maybe you don’t dare to look at yourself in the mirror or feel troubled and jealousy when you see someone else having success. Maybe you feel like they are less deserving than you, and that life is not fair. All these negative characteristics, physical and psychological, for me are indications that I am not living according to my nature.

When a man is living according to his nature, and adopting stoic philosophy, he is rejoiced when his fellow man has success, he is unaffected by things he cannot change, and he is constantly changing and improving the things he can. A stoic person involves himself in the community, does his duty in politics and society, and accepts whatever life gives him, riches or comforts, but doesn’t dwell or obsess over these things. He helps without self sacrifice, as self sacrifice would mean he is giving more value on to someone else than himself.

This is what I know will be a lifelong journey that I have only begun recently, so this post might not be perfect in accuracy. But expect either more posts or more corrections to this post as I learn more. If you are more advanced in this journey than me, feel free to comment any corrections and links.

If you are an Amazon prime user you can find many books for kindle on the topic of stoicism, including Marcus Aurelius meditations, most are free of charge or very affordable.

Another book I recommend is Letters from a Stoic, from Seneca.

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