Zeno of Citium was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy
After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, his giant empire broke into pieces and descended into a long period of political turmoil with rulers constantly jockying for power. This period, known as the Hellenistic Age, saw the rise of multiple schools of philosophy, all of which had at their core the task of trying to quell the anxiety caused by the political events that they had no control over. Stoicism was one of these schools.
Stoicism was for everyone. If you were making a late night infomercial trying to convince people that Stoicism was right for them, no matter which walk of life they came from, you couldn’t ask for three people with more diversity between them than Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius to plead your case. Known as the three “crown jewels” of Stoicism, these men dedicated their lives to applying Stoicism to the adversity that faced them, and their brilliant insights and techniques can teach us all something about the human condition.
1. Don’t Enslave Yourself to Annoying People
There aren’t many people more qualified to talk about feeling enslaved than the Stoic Philosopher Epictetus; he spent his entire childhood as a slave in the city of Rome. For most people, the thought of being enslaved is the kind of thing that makes you want to curl into the fetal position. To be forcefully put to work and treated as the property of someone else is one of the worst things that could ever happen to you. This is why it baffled Epictetus that everyone around him voluntarily puts themselves into slavery dozens of times per day. Epictetus said:
“If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?”
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