“When cynicism becomes the default language, playfulness and invention become impossible. Cynicism scours through a culture like bleach, wiping out millions of small, seedling ideas. Cynicism means your automatic answer becomes ‘No.’ Cynicism means you presume everything will end in disappointment.”
I am not a Cynic. (…but 10 years ago, I think I was well on my way to becoming one.)
I strive to be a Stoic.
Everyone, (that I’ve ever asked for a definition,) uses the adjective “stoic” to mean: unfeeling, uncaring, showing no emotion. While it’s true that words mean whatever we all agree they mean, in the case of “stoic” that definition is a drastic change of focus from what the Stoics (a group of Philosophers both ancient and modern) are doing and thinking.
Can we back up a layer to find some common ground?
You’d probably be ok with this definition:
“stoic: adj. Of, or relating to, the school of philosophy, Stoicism, founded by Zeno, …”
…but then everyone seems to rush off to this definition of Stoicism:
“[… Zeno,] who taught that people should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity.”
…and that’s where I disagree.
That’s a poor definition, because Stoics (the Philosophers) do feel, do care and do show emotion. In fact, one of the key points of Stoicism is to feel, care and show emotion in appropriate ways and to appropriate degrees. Stoics grieve, express joy, etc. They also understand the difference between things within and without their control. Described that way, doesn’t Stoicism sound pretty sane?
Now, I am a Philosopher, by definition, because I try to apply Philosophy to my daily life. But, I am not a teacher of Philosophy.
That I’ve piqued your interest enough that you’ll go read this “Stoicism 101” about how to use the Stoic Philosophy today, to improve your life: