The Need for Stoicism in Families
A home where everyone is yelling, arguing, and hyper-critical of one another is neither healthy nor is it one conducive to maximizing the limited time family members have together under one roof.
Parents, before you know it your kids are going to fly the nest;
Being more stoic in your day to day interactions with them will have you better able to forge bonds which result in kids who want to come home and visit their parents as well as fostering a relationship with your spouse that continues to thrive once the kids have left.
Quarantine has highlighted an up until now avoidable issue inside many homes, the inability to control emotions.
A loss of emotional control looks like a temper tantrum and anyone beyond the age of two is out of excuses to justify stamping feet, picking at others, bullying, and screaming/crying to get what they want.
If you want a family that enjoys the company of one another, you need to be a more stoic in your approach to life.
If you want to have more control over yourself, you need to more stoic.
What Is Stoicism?
Let’s grab the text-book definition before I share the laymen’s version:
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness, or blessedness) is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.WIKI: STOICISM
The life philosophy of Stoicism is focused on differentiating between what we can change and what we can’t.
How does a Philosophy dating back thousands of years apply to 2020 and beyond?
That’s the beauty, human lives follow universal principles.
Stoicism is about accepting that some of our life experience is outside of our control and that’s okay.
When it comes to dealing with family, you walking the house with a bad attitude because schools are closed and your schedule is off is a net negative on everyone.
The entire family is in the same boat: parents, siblings, friends, and extended family are all trying to navigate these same waters and while we may not be able to control what the schools or corporations do, we certainly can control our demeanor and the amount of time that we dedicate to dwelling on how something we cannot change, “isn’t fair“.
- It’s not a bad day because it’s raining; rain is a part of life and without it we’d perish.
- Your life isn’t ruined because you weren’t accepted to the college of your choice; how can you feel the loss of something you never had?
- You are not inadequate because you have less Likes, Follows, or Views on your social media content; Your happiness is not decided by the choices of others…
These are all aspects of Stoicism.
Stoicism is not about “not feeling” as so many have incorrectly stated, instead it’s about controlling what it is that you feel and again, only giving time and energy to the things within your control.
When things don’t go your way, instead of losing your cool you need to adapt and overcome while accepting the reality for what it is, not what you think it should be.
While the world may be chaotic, your mind needs to remain filled with peace free from influence of every bit of information coming in.
Everyone turns to Marcus Aurelius as well as Seneca for their primary source of Stoicism and while I’ve learned much from both, it was actually Epictetus who truly made things “click” for me.
Here are the main resources for each, these books are cheap and they can change your life, I know they did for me.
- Epictetus: Enchiridion & Discourses
- Seneca: On The Shortness of Life & Letters From A Stoic
- Marcus Aurelius: Meditations
Too many families are plagued by the mental disease of being overly-critical and under-appreciative.
Stoicism addresses this directly and it’s in these lessons that families can find healing and a new way to go about their day to day routine.
Stoicism will not work through you exerting control over another, this is not about you getting your spouse and children to “fall in line“; in fact it’s quite the opposite, stoicism is about mastery over yourself…
How Does Stoicism Work?
Stoicism takes the notion that things are happening “to us” head on:
- Life is too short.
- My podcasts are taking too long to load.
- I don’t have as many things as I should, it isn’t fair.
- My job should pay me more but my boss doesn’t appreciate my efforts.
Everything above is focused on the exterior.
What stoicism and stoic practices do is that they shift the perspective to focusing on what is referred to as our, Internal Locus of Control.
Let’s reassess that list:
- Life is too short – Life is perfectly long enough, so long as we don’t waste too many days thinking of what we don’t have and instead appreciating each moment with what we do.
- My podcasts are taking too long to load – Too long compared to what? The delay should have you appreciating how minor your issues truly are; if the worst part of your day is a delayed podcast, life is quite good.
- My job should pay me more but my boss doesn’t appreciate my efforts – You job pays you for the position you’re serving and if you feel you are worth more, steps must be taken to make leadership aware or you should leave to another position or company.
- I don’t have as many things as I should, it isn’t fair – What you have is what you need, if you didn’t know others had more things, would you even want them?
Much of what happens in life is not within our control.
The Stoics recognized this undeniable truth and chose to focus instead on what they could do with who they were and what they had control over.
They may not have had the easiest of lives, but facing hardship physically does not consitute hardship and despair to grow mentally.
We must ensure that internally, we’re aware of our emotions and that we are not allowing them to dictate our behaviors, especially towards our family members.
Often times poor treatment of others within the home is a product immaturity and laziness.
No parent screaming at their child who is walking out the door ever considers that it may be their final time speaking to them.
Everyone takes the presence of others for granted.
This is why I encourage everyone to practice the Stoic art of Negative Visualizations.
When a family stops taking one another’s presence for granted, only then will they place value on the time they have together.
When individuals stop behaving like the world is out to get them, only then will they understand that their life experience is under their control.
A list of common issues a more stoic approach will fix:
- Living with your face plugged into a screen, missing the real world which is passing you by.
- Expecting others to know your thoughts.
- Getting frustrated with Corona because it robbed you of an event you’d planned for years.
- Thinking your life is over because opportunities were lost.
- Looking at everything your spouse does wrong without ever noticing what they’ve done right.
- Fighting with your siblings over everything because you’d rather prove them wrong than agree and get along with both of you being right
- Striving to accrue more than everyone else to prove your self worth.
- Living like you’ll never die.
- Allowing the news, main stream media, and social media to take priority over the people within the home.
- Placing your pride before all else.
- Thinking there will always be time to say and do what needs to be said and done.
- Being afraid to act, causing mental suffering before any suffering actually occurs. (Why stress before a stressful event? It doubles the pain.)
- Being disappointed that people are the way they are. Of course they’ll let you down, don’t wish people to be better than they are.
- Yelling at your children not because of their offense but because of your inner conflicts and frustrations.
- Letting the world’s problems become your family’s personal problem.
- Lacking a sense of identity of life purpose.
- Losing your identity to the masses; allowing their ideas to become yours, allowing their actions to be the behaviors you exhibit, and allowing their fear and paranoia to infect you.
Stoicism can make you a better person
Before you reach the point of needing family counseling or damaging relationships to the point of no return, why not work to get your emotions under control so your connection can be over the top?
->It’s possible to restore peace and bring cohesion back into the home.
-> It’s possible for your spouse and children to find ways to bond and overlook flaws.
-> It’s possible for your life and family to like one another if they can find a way to like themselves.
You can actualize the life and family you want by working with everyone else in the family to control individual emotions. This will be a major change for everyone involved, but bringing more stoic practices into the home will lead to a greater unity and cohesion as each individual realizes they’re only responsible for the part they play in the greater family unit.
From there, flaws become features and families can drop the divisive behaviors and once again unite.
Stoicism shines brighter the more the world darkens.
The basis of the philosophy is to find greater peace within as greater challenges arise outside. Our world is currently dark; with riots, restricted travel, businesses on fire, and lives being lost…
Yet with that darkness outside, we’re afforded the opportunity – nay the necessity of bringing a bright light of love and connection within the walls of our homes.
While the world is dark, we can make our homes bright and in doing so we’ll not just survive, but thrive within the chaos.
With the insanity of Corona, I turn to what is within my control and disregard the rest; I can’t stop the fires, the fear instigating news, or the despair…
I can control my reaction to it and for myself and my family, I will…
It’s your family VS the world, not each-other.
Hakuna Matata My Friends,
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