The third theme of Stoic Week is virtue, the central tenet of Stoicism.
“Virtue is the only thing that is fundamentally good and the sole basis for genuine fulfilment in life, according to Stoicism.”
Stoic Week Handbook 2017
In this morning’s text, Marcus Aurelius characterises virtue as “justice, truthfulness, self-control, courage” which he sees as the best things in life. The characteristic that I’m most focused on at the moment is self-control. I’ve used this week to shine a spotlight on aspects of my behaviour that I’ve never sat back and analysed before, asking myself:
- why something provoked a certain response in me
- whether I could have chosen to act any differently, and
- what impact that would have had on the situation
The Handbook today describes the Stoic life as “an ongoing journey toward virtue”. It’s not something that is easily, or perhaps even realistically achievable – the important thing is that we try.
The evening text brings home the fact that to become adept at something, whether that’s a skill or a mindset, takes practise:
“Every habit and faculty is formed or strengthened by the corresponding act – walking makes you walk better, running makes you run better… The same goes for affairs of the mind.”
Epictetus, Discourses, 2.18
Having set aside time each day this week for dedicated practice of Stoicism I feel calmer and more in control of my emotions. I’m finding it easier to keep my values in focus as I go about my day and reflect on what I’ve done. Every day a step towards virtue.
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