Stoic wisdom

According to the experts, one of the most effective things we can do to stay mentally and emotionally healthy is to keep learning for life learning new things that we enjoy and find interesting not only provides us with new knowledge, but also gives us motivation and flexibility, as well as opening our minds.

I wouldn´t be able to tell you when I first got interested in topics related to personal growth. I think part of it started when I moved from Spain to Ireland, as I was beginning a new life in many ways. Fast forward to the last few years, especially since the pandemic hit, and my interest in this field, together with the variety of specific topics and the time and attention I dedicate to them, have exponentially grown. But deep down, I believe this itch started way, way back.

For example, I remember really enjoying the subject of philosophy when we had it in school (3rd year of BUP, for whoever knows what that means); I even read a novel about the history of philosophy that our teacher recommended: Sophie´s world, and I also loved it.

Ruins of an ancient Greek temple against a blue sky with clouds

Many years later, I´ve bumped into the world of philosophy again, this time through a course on stoicism and enneagram (which I totally recommend, as every other course from Autognosis) that I´ve just finished this week.

To be honest, I´ve really enjoyed it, and the best part is that it´s a very practical kind of philosophy: a series of principles that we can apply to our day-to-day life, to be happier and suffer less. Nowadays we may think of philosophy as this complicated theoretical thing you can talk about (philosophize!) for ever, but so far removed from real day-to-day life that it doesn´t help at all, so nothing changes. But the ancient Greeks and Romans saw it differently: for them, philosophy was much more tangible, it was their way to get guidance in life. Back then, philosophers were the equivalent to today´s therapists and coaches.

There´s a lot we can learn from stoicism´s teachings and reflections, I´ll tell you some of them in blog articles as we go along. For the moment, today I´d like to leave you with a text you may already be familiar with; it´s relatively recent, but it has a lot to do with one of stoicism´s principles, one that resonates especially with me: the dichotomy of control.

The dichotomy of control warns us about the uselessness of spending energy trying to dominate what´s outside of our control, and encourages us to focus on what we can control instead, so that we get less frustrated and also achieve better results. And in that context, the prayer of serenity just fits perfectly:

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

By the way, I just remembered that it was in that same philosophy class from school where I first heard about Socrates and his maieutic, one of the foundations of modern coaching 🙂

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