As I’ve started to implement routine into my life, I’ve found that I’ve had ample time to accomplish some of the goals I’ve been meaning to fulfill. Lately, I’ve been consistently meditating, exercising, and spending time delving deeper into philosophical works. Most recently, I’ve been listening to an audiobook translation of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, watching Crash Course philosophy, and I’ve finished a few chapters of A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine. I couldn’t have come across Stoicism at a more opportune time, as it seems my life has been more chaotic lately than ever. Managing two startups, trying to find a job after college, freelancing, and living out of a backpack all while going through a tough breakup has proved itself to be a very unstable time in my life. However, I’ve found solace in studying philosophy, taking steps towards advancing my career, improving my health and wellness, and I feel grounded amidst all the uncertainty.
Stoicism, as it’s known today, is a philosophy rooted in the idea of detaching oneself from negative emotions by learning to fully appreciate everything that we are given by fortune. This may seem counterproductive, as it suggests the idea of being neutral to everything. However, it pushes the idea of joy and appreciation as something that we have to consciously work on in order to achieve. The hedonistic values prevalent in today’s society leave many people unhappy – we live in a time of unprecedented comfort and security, yet we are increasingly dissatisfied with life. This is due to the fact that we don’t spend time appreciating what we have because we are always chasing the next form of pleasure. This habit leads us to always be in a state of dissatisfaction. Stoicism tells you to take nothing for granted, to fully appreciate what you have, to work as hard as you can towards the goals that you want out of life, and to truly live every day as if it were your last by habitually evaluating what you value in life.
This led me to the concept of letting go. Throughout my life, I’ve clung to my desires, passions, and loves in an unhealthy way. I’ve obsessed over my imperfections, I’ve tried to please everyone in my life, and I had developed a habit of trying to constantly prove myself as a worthy being to the people in my life. However, this all stemmed from an idea that I wasn’t good enough, that there was something inherently wrong with me, and I believed that rejection was proof that I had failed to be an exemplary human being. However, I had to realize that I couldn’t please everyone. I will apply for positions that I believe I am a perfect fit for that will be filled by other candidates. I will experience loss, I will experience grief, difficulty, and uncertainty. People will leave my life, whether through death, through circumstance, or of their own accord, and it is not my job to convince them to stay. I can only appreciate the good times that I’ve had, reflect upon the lessons I’ve learned, work hard to transform my goals into my reality, and find stability in knowing that my time on this Earth has not been wasted – I’ve been fortunate enough to experience it in the first place.
Life will move forward, whether I want it to or not. All I can do is try my best, actively participate, and give it all I’ve got. The rest is up to fortune to determine and, in the end, nothing will truly matter anyway. It may seem like a grim topic to think about, but in the next hundred years, you and everyone you love will be nothing but a distant memory. It is not up to us to determine how long we live, what events we will encounter, or which people will stay in our lives, but we can control how we feel in every moment of every day. It is for this reason that I have learned to let go of the things I can’t control, find joy in the simple pleasures of life, try to be the best version of myself that I can be, and let the universe sort the rest.