I am a Stoic
Jaime VanNostrand   -  

By Pastor Phil

I’m a stoic.

Finally, I got a diagnosis…I’m a stoic.  I thought I was a new age thinker, but I have come to realize that my way of thinking is ancient.  Ancient, like 300-200BCE.  That’s about 2300 years ago.  Stoic Philosophers of Greece, believed that your thoughts and beliefs create the world you inhabit, not external circumstances, so you ought to take responsibility for your mind.

The central premise of Stoicism focuses on the four cardinal virtues: courage, justice, wisdom, and self-control. It also teaches that our suffering is only a perception or interpretation of circumstances, rather than reality.

Let me share with you some Stoic quotes.

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.―Epictetus

“How does it help…to make troubles heavier by bemoaning them?” – Seneca

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.― Epictetus

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.―Marcus Aurelius

“Curb your desire—don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.” – Epictetus

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…” – Epictetus

You have power over your mind — not outside events.  Realize this, and you will find strength.― Marcus Aurelius

I love quotes.  Quotes help me remember important principles that I want to live.  They are nuggets of wisdom condensed into a phrase.  I thought my way of thinking, was contemporary, but actually, it is very old.

I have often suggested the book, ‘Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor Frankl as a powerful book for people who feel powerless in their lives.  Frankl survived the Nazi Concentration Camps by creating a reality in his mind that was not limited by the horrors of his external experience as a prisoner.  WOW!  He mentioned that he had more freedom than the prison guards, and he found that freedom in his mind.

A quote from Frankl’s book expresses this stoic way of thinking and being.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

My Christian faith grounded upon God’s Love is very stoic.  Love Wins, God wins, regardless of what is happening around me.  I can train my mind to trust and not fear.  I can train my mind and heart to believe, Love Wins in the end.  If I know it wins in the end, I best choose it in the midst of my life.

A friend of mine, years ago, after being diagnosed with cancer said, “Cancer can kill me, but it won’t define me.”  That is the attitude, the mindset, or the faith, that I am working toward.  

I guess I am learning from Jesus, who said to his executioners, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing”.(Luke 23:34).  What a mindset, centered in God’s love.

A mindset, that is possible for any who chooses.