All of them are heavily influenced by the same school of philosophy as well as these people: Bill Clinton, Jordano Bruno, Francis Bacon, John Steinbeck, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Neil Strauss, Robert Greene, Chandra Crawford, Michael Lombardi and many more.
I am intentionally not giving you the name of the school just yet. Reason being: it’s the most commonly misunderstood philosophy movement. In fact when people hear the name, they instantly label it and from there on it’s very hard to break those labels. So in order to make it easier for you to see this the way it really is and to be unbiased I will use start with all the misconceptions and also use a codename. Let’s get to it.
"Being practical is for men. Women are too emotional."
This one is very popular. While it’s true that in general women appear to be more emotional than men, I don’t believe the gap is that wide. Women can and do benefit from practicism. J.K. Rowling is a prime example. She had 38 rejections for Harry Potter before someone agreed to publish it. She knew that her novel was worth something and never gave up. I’m sure it was very emotional period for her, all that while being a single mother, but practicism managed to help.
"The Practics are cold people with no emotions."
This is probably the most famous misperception. While Practics appear to be less emotional, this is not because they reject emotion. They do not put a brave face and just sit indifferently. In fact they feel the emotions we all do but are being practical about it and choose to concentrate on what matters. For example imagine a traffic jam. There are probably all kinds of characters in it, right? They are nervous, cursing and swearing, maybe even getting out of the car to see what’s ahead. The Practics may still be annoyed by the circumstances but will choose not to concentrate on that emotion as it’s something they can’t control. They quickly put it aside and do something practical like listening to a podcast or talking to their parties.
"The Practics see the worst in everything"
Practicism encourages us to focus on the possible negative outcomes, this is true - but the reason behind it is misunderstood. It’s done in order to prepare the mind in case the worst outcome does occur, but also in case it doesn’t - to help us appreciate what we have. For example a Practic may imagine that he’s about to meet someone rude today at work. Now if he does indeed, he’ll not be that much disconcerted, but if he doesn’t, he will appreciate the fact and feel happy about it. So although Practics tend to imagine worst-case scenarios, it’s from a very pragmatic standpoint and not because they believe that those scenarios will occur. I understand that this can feel very counter-intuitive to those of you who are influenced by the modern schools of thought like optimism and imagining the best case scenario in order to connect to the universe, which will deliver to us what we seek. Now, I’ve watched The Secret, read the books and I don’t have anything against it. If it’s working for you, that is great! But I believe it’s useful to be aware of the different possible points of view, and maybe you can borrow things from schools that are even opposite! Bear with me, optimists! I consider myself as one of you as well, so I can relate to the initial struggle. :)
"Practicism is a religious concept"
That’s another misconception. Although the Practics constantly make reference to God in their writings, their doctrine is a philosophical one rather than religious. The main focus of most religions is about having a good afterlife. By way of contrast, Practicism is primarily concerned with us having a good life. What Practicism offers is a philosophy of life or, as it is sometimes called, a philosophy for living.
"Renounciating power and money"
Practicism doesn’t imply such thing as it is perceived. What it does say is that anybody can live a good, moral life, no matter of his looks, wealth or even health. If you happen to become wealthy, if you are good-looking and healthy, you should by all means enjoy these things - but still remember what’s important in life.You can gain them, enjoy them and you can lose them, and none of that should matter.
Now that we’ve cleared some of the major misperceptions, below are the most important things that Practicism focuses on:
- Recognize what is under your control & what isn’t, and don’t worry about the latter.
- Develop very present state of mind so that you’re aware of your thoughts and emotions, before they take control of you and lead you to bad decisions.
- Be content with what you have rather than constantly striving to get what you desire
- Live to life’s full potential.
- Take care of your mind and soul. Live virtuously and with integrity.
- Have more realistic expectations. Optimism can often be harmful.
- Prepare your mind for what is to come.
- Accept failure and throw away regret.
- Throw away vanity and any excessive belief in one's own abilities. Be willing to learn, to listen, to leave your ego aside.
- Live in accordance with nature.
Sounds good to me!
By this point, I am sure that most of you have already decrypted the codename and know that we’re in fact talking about Stoicism. In my native language to be a Stoic means to be emotionless, cold human being, bearing the misfortunes of life with a strong, statue-like face. I believe the english use of the word is not very different, right? But as we saw, the Stoics are in fact emotional, caring, connected to others and to nature. They are just practical.
In the next few posts I will dive deeper into what Stoicism is, into its history and some of the main characters. For now, I leave you with a quote by the most famous Stoic:
“Constantly think of the universe as a single living being, comprised of a single substance and a single soul; and how all things issue into the single perception of this being, and how it accomplishes all things through a single impulse; and how all things work together to cause all that comes to be, and how intricate and densely woven is the fabric formed by their interweaving” – Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor
I will start a weekly blog about life and ideas to improve it - check out my recent post about it.
I do not inspire to be a life-guru or to have any genius revelation about life.
My ultimate goal with this series will be to stimulate your brain cells to think on different topics. If I state something it will be merely my own opinion on things and I accept and embrace that yours may be different. Please share it with me :)