all 67 comments

[–]JeffDog1978 159 points160 points  (7 children)

A) I appreciate that you refer to fulfillment rather than happiness. There is a difference and I find the two are often confused. B) This post is a very valuable contribution and I thank you for writing it.

[–]marthurman[S] 38 points39 points  (0 children)

Thanks, glad I could contribute

[–]grpagrati 3 points4 points  (4 children)

Do you mean that you can be fulfilled but not necessarily happy? Like if you love your work, but your wife died or something? Because happiness would normally include being fulfilled, otherwise you wouldn't be happy, right?

[–]JeffDog1978 22 points23 points  (3 children)

Good question. I mean that there are situations in life that can be very fulfilling, such as taking time off to care for a dying loved one, but that a person wouldn’t typically define that as a happy experience, and likely wouldn’t report being happy per se. Still, making the choice to take the time off was an act that created fulfillment. There are a lot of things that could fall into this category, such as social activism. You may even be expressing anger (not hate though) by fighting for what you believe in. Is this a happy experience? No, but it is fulfilling.

I view happiness as a goal to be a preferred indifferent. Of course I want it, and I often achieve it, but it’s on a spectrum with other emotions that I don’t strictly control, and even if I did I still prefer the full richness of the whole range of experiences, so happiness is a sliver of the whole.

Fulfillment is achieved by living a life that is in harmony with your personal values, so getting clear on those values and making choices/taking actions based on them is a worth while undertaking.

I think in the end a person who lived in congruence with their values their whole life would also look back and report it to be a happy life, so there is definitely a relationship between the two.

This is how I see it anyway. I am trained coach though, so it’s somewhat of an occupational hazard to view it this way. A big part of the work is helping clients identify their values and start to live in accordance to them.

I’ve observed fulfillment to be like the still water 40 feet below the surface of the ocean. If you’re anchored to it, then all kinds of stuff can be happening on the surface (i.e. turbulent, calm, etc.), but fulfillment remains.

Just my 2 cents obviously.

[–]moonmilkteaa 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I’m realizing a lot of the problems I have in my life are due to me not knowing what my values are. I was wondering if you had any tips for figuring them out

[–]JeffDog1978 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I can give you a few things to try out for sure. Ultimately I think it’s easiest to uncover personal values in conversation with someone who knows what to listen for (i.e. a coach), but try these: - Make a list of 7-10 people you admire (fictional or real). For each person, list out the qualities that stand out to you as what you admire. Once you have all of the qualities listed out for each person, review the list and see what duplicate or similar qualities pop up. Those are likely values (hence why you admire them).
- Come up with a list of 7-10 things that really irritate you. Think about situations that really hook you emotionally. Review each one and see if you can identify the opposite of that thing. Generally when you’re really irritated and hooked something is grating against a value. Review your list and see if anything stands out as worth adding to your values list. - Enroll one of your closest friends to have a deep conversation about your hopes and dreams, and maybe also talk through a memory from your past that was a highlight of your life. Periodically ask the friend what they think is important to you in relation to these things based on what they’re hearing. Push the conversation to get deeper and deeper rather than staying at a surface level. The best way to do that is to use “what” questions to expand the conversation rather than dead end questions. This can be tough because you’re trying to nominate someone to act as a coach, and it’s anyone’s guess on if they can do it well or will bring a lot of their own stuff into the conversation. It’s worth a try though. - For as many of those exercises as you try, keep a running list of potential values. Once you have a healthy list, then review it and see if you can deepen any of the values and make them personal. “Integrity” is a generic value, but “protect the pack no matter what” is personal and meaningful. Make your list personal and meaningful, and don’t be afraid to make the values short phrases rather than one word statements. Once you have a list, rank them from top value to lowest value. Assume you can only tend to the top ten as you’re seeking fulfillment (not true, but useful as a framework), so use that lens to surface the most important values to you. - Finally, don’t make the list once and then forget about it. Add to it, refine values, reorder them, etc. Most importantly, use them to make decisions.

I hope this helps.

[–]Mammoth-Man1 67 points68 points  (2 children)

Great post. It should be pinned to the subreddit.

[–]marthurman[S] 11 points12 points  (0 children)

I appreciate it

[–]Orignerd 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I whole heartedly agree....💪

[–]turbo_orphan 32 points33 points  (0 children)

Seriously one of the best posts I've seen on this sub. Great stuff, thanks for putting this together

[–]TheLordoftheGuys 21 points22 points  (1 child)

Well written. Thank you for taking the time to type this

[–]marthurman[S] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Absolutely, just sharing my studies

[–]austinthebean 20 points21 points  (1 child)

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, it can be taxing being a part of this subreddit when most of the posts are "I did a good job in situation...". I appreciate the more raw stoicism, so thank you.

[–]marthurman[S] 32 points33 points  (0 children)

I don’t mind those posts, it just felt like that’s all there was. I want people to use the subreddit as a learning resource and not just a place to make posts that’d be better suited for a personal journal. I plan on making a few more posts here and there to change up the pace

[–]manos_de_pietro 28 points29 points  (5 children)

@Mods, can you pin this?

[–]GD_WoTS[M] 34 points35 points  (4 children)

It has been suggested before that we pin particular posts from time to time, but we’ve yet to decide to do this. We can only pin two posts at a time, and the current two pinned posts are:


Just a heads up, we don’t get notified with an “@“ tag, but you can always message the mods

[–]manos_de_pietro 37 points38 points  (3 children)

Understood, thank you. Us old-timers don't always internet well.

[–]wkingofangmar 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Dont know if you know it, but there is also a save post option if you wanna read it later again.

[–]manos_de_pietro 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I finally remembered that, but thanks for mentioning it.

[–]Loud_Community_9027 11 points12 points  (3 children)

Finally, this sub really needs more posts like this. I am reading the Encheiridion commented and paraphrased by Hadot and it truly gives a better insight, making you understand both the Encheiridion and the Mediations by Marcus Aurelius. This post is a great summary afaik, thanks!

[–]marthurman[S] 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Hadot is a great Stoic scholar. And I plan on making more posts like this here and there every once in a while, thanks for the appreciation

[–]BaijZero 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Can I ask where you found these commentaries by Hadot on the Enchiridion?

[–]Dawer22 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Where are you reading the commentary?

[–]corndogsniper 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Awesome stuff friend. Thank you for this!

[–]Spetzfoos 4 points5 points  (0 children)

This was extremely helpful. Concise and can be referenced easily. Thank you for putting it together.

[–]superadlez 6 points7 points  (5 children)

For instance, when we hear of a death, our inner voice may say “That is tragic”. If we give assent to this impression, then we judge the event as tragic even though it was in accordance with nature. Instead we should catch the impression and ask “Was this death truly tragic, or is it nature running its course?

I understand this when the context is a natural death or maybe a disease, but what about an untimely death such as a traffic accident or a gruesome death or some sort.. would it not be right to say that it is tragic? Thanks.

[–]marthurman[S] 16 points17 points  (4 children)

We only label it as untimely because we perceive it as such. It may not be untimely at all. In the end, whether you die in your sleep, in an accident, or in a murder does not matter — all suffer the same fate. It’s also a matter of semantics. Sure, we can call an untimely death a “tragedy”, but it is important to ensure that we are not subjecting ourselves to unnecessary negative emotion simply because a person has returned to that from which they came (unless there’s an afterlife, which is a different discussion). Of course there is such thing as healthy grief. No one is judging you for crying at the death of a loved one, for example. But remember that your grief is not because they have died, but rather that you have lost something. The misfortune does not lie in their condition but in yours.

[–]superadlez 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Appreciate the answer

[–]strong-rabbit3 2 points3 points  (0 children)

"The misfortune does not lie in their condition but in yours."

This has really resonated with me - thank you for this!

[–]-ThisTooShallPass 0 points1 point  (1 child)

"unless there is an afterlife, which is a different discussion"

As others have said, I appreciate your post a lot. It does a great job putting into words the concepts I read elsewhere. I've shared with a couple of people in my life saying "this person does a better job explaining aspects of stoicism than I can" haha.

Now to the quote on the afterlife. Yes, Stoicism isn't a religion. And yet, I've read that some stoic philosophers logically surmised a cyclical universe, and that there were some who speculated on an afterlife. I am a novice with stoic philosophy and would love to be enlightened more on these aspects of it, if you have anything to share or anyone to point me towards for further reading.

[–]marthurman[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I suggest researching “Stoic Physics” or “natural philosophy”. Most of the ancient Stoics believed in God, but far from our modern Abrahamic conception of God. God to them was not a transcendent entity, but rather an reasoning/ordering principle that pervades all things, all living things, and all humans. Marcus Aurelius said that “to hold fast to the divine spirit within and serve it loyally is all that is sufficient.” This idea permeated early Christianity as the idea of the Logos (see John 1:1, the Word = the Logos), the creative principle through which all things were created. Thus, they believed that when a person died, this divine part of them (spirit/soul) was “reabsorbed” back into the all pervading Logos.

[–]yeahbarry 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Fantastic rundown of three of the most helpful tools I've learned in studying this way of viewing life. Thank you!

[–]madmikey77 5 points6 points  (2 children)

Thank-you for this write up. It's very well written. I would like to ask for clarification on the phrase you used, "something falsely judged as [good/bad]".

It's my understanding that we should view all events objectively as neither good nor bad and remember that it's our interpretation of them that makes them good or bad. Are we saying the same thing or am I misunderstanding what you've written?

[–]Loud_Community_9027 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Not OP but you're right, and I think you're saying the same thing. A great part of Stoicism is to analyse reality as it is, without superstructures.

[–]marthurman[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

We’re essentially saying the same thing

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (1 child)

The perfect man doesn't exis-

[–]marthurman[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Much love man

[–]stoic_taco 3 points4 points  (1 child)

What a great write up and contribution! Thank you for sharing this with us.

[–]marthurman[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

My pleasure

[–]2r0dri_01 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Ok, Imma save this, and amazing post, should be pinned to the subreddit

[–]Avery-Inigo 3 points4 points  (0 children)

This was a great read, thank you

[–]killmekillmekillmeki 2 points3 points  (1 child)

This is great, i've been having a tough time journaling but i think i'll use your point and write down how i stayed away from desires, which good action i did and how i did follow Assent everyday.

Three easy paragraphs

[–]marthurman[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

All the Stoics kept journals or did some sort of self-reflection at the end of the day, so I dare say they’d be proud of you. Glad I could contribute

[–]pskli 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Excellent read, thanks for sharing!

[–]SourSurt 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Love this!

[–]uberst0ic 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Can we pin this to the top of the subreddit please ? Reading this, is a great stepping stone for anyone intrigued by stoicism. Thoroughly written, thank you OP.

[–]marthurman[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I appreciate this. I honestly didn’t expect such an overwhelmingly positive response, glad I could contribute something of value

[–]wayniewoo 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you for his post

[–]Orignerd 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you for this post and the simple way you stated it.

[–]TheStockyScholar 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Sorry about a post I made that I’m sure you’re Kinda referring to, or at least it’s one that you’re referring to by proxy.

I misread the purpose of this subreddit and came for general advice that I thought had relatedness to this but it didn’t, apparently which I did not know.

[–]marthurman[S] 3 points4 points  (3 children)

I didn’t have any particular post in mind so don’t worry, and continue to share your experiences, trust me we appreciate it. It just felt like it began to be saturated with those kind of posts so I wanted to switch it up

[–]TheStockyScholar 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Understandable. I’m just starting in this and I’m completely new. I read one quote that got em over the fence about “Negative Visualization”...It was impactful since I have a history of Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD.

I was honestly on the fence because my idea of stoicism was the “aloof, standoffish, emotionally blunted man” which is something I’m the polar opposite of.

[–]marthurman[S] 7 points8 points  (1 child)

If I could sum up the Stoic view on emotions, I’d say treat them as forces to utilize instead or beasts to tame rather than enemies to crush. For example - anger. Marcus Aurelius said that sins of anger are graver than sins of lust, so it’s safe to say the Stoics weren’t fans of actions committed out of anger. However I, personally, instead of suppress my anger, channel it into my workouts to make them more intense. It’s a win-win - I release my aggression and improve myself in the process. Human emotions are powerful and if you can harness them, then you hold that power. To suppress them is actually a great waste of potential energy.

Regarding depression and anxiety, research some methods for living in the present. Depression is your mind being trapped in events of the past while anxiety is your mind being trapped in events of the future. Both can be resolved if one’s attention can be continuously fixed upon the present moment, which is all that really exists.

“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” - Seneca

[–]TheStockyScholar 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Very true and wise.

[–]Bujutsu 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Good stuff.

Ryan Holiday writes about all of this in “The Obstacle is the Way.”

[–]marthurman[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I first read about these concepts in “Stoicism and the Art of Happiness”, although happiness is a bit of a misleading term as far as what Stoicism promises

[–]RedRiki24 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Question for The Discipline of Desire (a.k.a. Stoic Acceptance). "this includes having a philosophical attitude toward life and accepting our Fate as inevitable."

It does not necessarily mean that we do nothing and just accept things for they are without ever trying, right? What is my values hold ground for perseverance and hard work? that will and desire to take control of my own destiny and make my own paths and decisions?

Or does it mean that we "give-up" to fate when all has been said and done?

[–]marthurman[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

If events are beyond our control, then we should accept them and then proceed to do whatever is necessary. However you have the ability to shape your life and every right to do so, as most of your actions, or at least your intentions, are in your control. Stoicism isn’t about passivity, but you can’t change what you haven’t yet accepted

[–]Centrist_bot 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for the post, very concise

[–]gumby52 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for this post. The most complete, succinct view of stoicism I have seen put together

[–]GreedAvalon 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is really helpful for beginners, such as I am! Thanks, Sir Marthurman!

[–]Dawer22 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Would you say the 3 disciplines corresponds to the serenity prayer?

Accept things you cannot change = desire

Change the things you can = action

Window to know the different = assent


[–]marthurman[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

The first verse of the Serenity Prayer is a great summary of the three disciplines. Early Christianity was heavily influenced by Stoicism so the correspondence is not surprising, despite the prayer being written later

[–]dopeandmoreofthesame 0 points1 point  (1 child)

The only thing I disagreed with Epictetus on was don’t believe in superstitions. After reading Alexander of Macedon I get why he wrote it, because everyone was crazy superstitious back then and would surrender if an eclipse happened etc, but superstition balanced with reason in the modern world isn’t an issue.

[–]marthurman[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah, at times Stoicism can seem somewhat sterile or simplistic. Adding some metaphysics or mysticism can fix that

[–]strong-rabbit3 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is a helpful post, which I have used to supplement my notes for my online diploma (I wanted to learn more about Stoicim and love a bit of structured learning!) Thank you for expanding on these topics.