The Stoics developed techniques to prevent the onset of negative emotions as well as overcome them as soon as they appear. Stoicism is the main influence of today's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In a nutshell, it tells us that we can influence our negative emotions by changing our perceptions.
Sphere of Control
According to the Stoics, the key to happiness and peace of mind is understanding what is and what is not within our control. In a nutshell, the only thing we have complete control of is our thoughts, emotions, and actions and anything external is outside our control. The idea is to direct only our energy to the former and embrace the latter.
Virtue and Vices
For the Stoics, the only thing that matters is to be a good person. To be a good person means to live a life of virtues. According to the Stoics, virtue is sufficient to make a person happy. The opposite of virtue is vice. If there is a sure way to live a chaotic life, that is to indulge oneself in impulsiveness and get lost with our desires.
The Stoics are big on journaling. The emperor Marcus Aurelius has a personal journal to what we know now as The Meditations. Journaling is a good way to reduce stress along with other benefits backed by modern scientific research.
The Stoics, especially Seneca, talks about how fear of the future robs us of our lives. In his 13th letter to Lucilius, Seneca talked in detail about the true nature of anxiety and how we should look it for what its truly is other than a virtual fear. Learn more about how the Stoics face their fears.
A peculiar stoic way to find tranquility is to imagine things that they fear to happen. The Stoics are not a fan of hope. They believe hope is a catalyst for fear. The idea is that when we expect the worst to happen we are more inclined to prepare and become less reactive when they do happen. What we anticipate no longer surprised us.
The Stoics put so much emphasis on the value of time. To have a calm mind, one has to completely forget the past and not worry about the future. The only thing that is real is the here and now. According to Seneca, the only real commodity that we own is time.Therefore, the only thing that is real is the NOW.
No other philosophers talk death more than the ancient Stoics. Emperor Marcus Aurelius constantly reflects on his death in his diary, The Meditations. Establishing a relationship with death is a way to be appreciative of the present moment and gain full acceptance of the inevitable.
Love of Fate
The Stoics believe that Nature behaves in a web of cause and effect in a way that preserves the world. What happens to one(good or bad) is a way to maintain balance in Nature. The Stoics look at everything that happens with full acceptance.Anything external is out of our control and governed by the laws of Nature.
The Stoics emphasized that what sets us apart from all living creatures is our reason. To live in accordance with nature means to be rational at all times - to see things for what they truly are. The Stoics said that we should scrutinize events and evaluate them for what they true are and not be tricked by our emotions.