Stoicism Changed My Life (For The Better)

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Stoicism has changed my life for the better. I’ve only been practicing it for the past 6 months, but I can already see tremendous changes in my mental health. Let me tell you a little bit about who I was before.

I unfortunately suffered from what many other people suffer with too. A crippling need to please people and to be liked. I got a fortune cookie almost 10 years ago that I carried around in my wallet for too long. When I opened the cookie I couldn’t believe what it said.

“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

It’s like it knew me personally. I felt like a ‘nothing’ because I basically was. I never shared my thoughts or opinions for fear that I would rub somebody the wrong way and they wouldn’t like me. I didn’t want to offend. That is until I found stoicism.

I happened to stumble upon a YouTube video about stoicism during one of my rabbit-hole adventures. We’ve all been there. You watch one video and then click a suggested title and before you know it you’re in a whole other solar system compared to your original search. This trip lead me to this video.

I was hooked. After that, I specifically searched for “Stoicism” on YouTube and Google and found many videos and articles that gave me numerous hours of reading. That, combined with my natural love for philosophy and being in deep thought, and everything just clicked. I found the thing I had been looking for all my life. Not quite a religion, but a belief system that I could worship, and I put it into practice immediately.

After a few days, I already developed a habit of asking myself, “Can I control this?” whenever something wasn’t going the way I had hoped or planned.

After a few weeks, I was able to care less and less about external sources of joy. I was on a path towards inner peace. With that, the wonderful side effect was that I wasn’t crippled anymore by the opinions of others. I finally felt free to be me. Now, I spend my days wondering how I can be the best me that I can, and each night I reflect on my day and ask myself, “Did I do my best today?” If the answer is yes, I can rest peacefully knowing that whether or not things went well, I did my best.

If I didn’t do my best, I acknowledge that, take responsibility for it, then figure out how I can be better tomorrow. Then, I rest peacefully knowing that tomorrow I will be better. Progress over perfection. There is so much more to stoicism and if any of this sounds intriguing, I highly encourage you to look into it. All I can say is that it has completely transformed me and I have never been happier.

-RJ Harrigan

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