Development and transformation: about stoical philosophy as a practice leading to happiness
Every moment is good to start working on yourself, e.g. so that you can enjoy life more. An impulse to meet with Tomasz Mazurek, PhD – philosopher, writer and contemporary stoic was the European Week of Sustainable Development. The theme of the event, co-organized by PwC Polska, was: „Development and transformation: about stoical philosophy as a practice leading to happiness.” The meeting with the Guest was conducted by Monika Bogdanowicz from the communication department of the Olivia Business Centre.
„Stoicism is like a first aid kit” – this is how Tomasz Mazur, PhD, described the philosophy and art of life practiced by the Greeks and Romans. Due to its practical dimension, stoicism has been a constant source of inspiration for generations. Today, maybe even more than ever, it’s worth to learn about stoic principles and exercises. Modern man is in fact overwhelmed by an excessive number of stimuli and desires. They set goals unrealistic and impossible to achieve and they cannot enjoy who they are. They cannot do it because they are prisoners of emotions and they succumb to things devoid of any meaning.
The ancient stoics looked at man differently than we do today. The Romans had a skeptical attitude to the emotionality which they believed was the source of… bad decisions. That’s why stoicism teaches first and foremost reaction to external stimuli. A stoic carefully examines himself/herself, observes his/her reflexes and knows that he/she can change them. He/she is aware that there is space for reflection between the stimulus and the automatic reaction. And this awareness allows the stoic to reduce the susceptibility to reflex. According to Tomasz Mazur, a stoic practitioner unquestioningly uses reflection. „You can not influence the fact that you are standing in traffic, but you can influence how you plan a route the next day or what you will do in the course of it – for example you can listen to an audiobook.” In the flood of goals and stimuli (one of the culprits is social media) we cannot control the emotions that lead to the situation which Tomasz Mazur calls „running from the hill”. Everyone knows how it ends when it is impossible to stop.
In addition, stoicism teaches limiting needs and desires. It is not the outside world, but our own expectations make us unhappy.
Thirdly, stoicism tells us to focus on what depends on us. Not to think about the consequences, possible scenarios. To be like Adam Małysz, who only thinks about giving the best two jumps. The same is important in life. It’s not about whether you win, but how you play. Stoicism is not looking for causes of problems in the world, because we often have no influence on them. What can we change? Our reaction to what’s happening to us. Man has the strength to change themselves and their habits.
Modern psychology and neuroscience confirm what the ancient stoics sensed. Epictetus recommended starting from small things. What will you start with?