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Is A Stoic Life The Key To Freedom?

Freedom is something we should strive for in our lives, but most of us will associate freedom with wealth, power or fame or maybe being able to travel wherever you want in the world whenever you want (which most people will not be able to achieve) we’ve all seen the countless number of online “gurus” and influences that have claimed to have achieved freedom and try to sell you some sort of online training that will make you “financially free”. But freedom is much more than that. Freedom is about control, not over other people or things, but control over ourselves. Specifically, how we choose to react to circumstances in our lives.

This would be the goal of a stoic person, a person who has learnt to let go of things that are out of their control and understands what exactly is in their control. To live your life stoically takes practice and determination but you can begin to feel the rewards quite quickly.

"Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control." – Epictetus – this quote highlights exactly what it means to be free in life.

It is inevitable that we will go through tough times in our lives, and it is our reactions to these times that will define us. We must first simply understand what is in our control - things such as our opinions, actions, goals, and desires as well as what is not in control such as other people’s actions & opinions, health, and our environment. When something happens to us that is not in our control, we can only accept what has happened and then choose our reaction, but before doing so we must first take a moment to think about the consequences of our reaction, once we have, we must always believe it to be the right one.

When we learn to control destructive emotions such as envy, jealousy, and hatred we can focus on the things we wish to achieve ourselves, this could be our career, family, or continued education. When we understand that conflict is a big part of life and can react to it with calmness we will never be fearful of a similar situation that might arise in the future. When we can control our own emotions and actions, we will be free.

If we take an example that most people can relate to such as working a job that we dislike and are underpaid for. We could feel hatred in this situation at having to continually show up for a job we dislike and envy others that have higher paid career. Or we could look at the situation we are in objectively and realise what is in our control, we can control how we feel each morning when we wake up and commute to work, we can control our emotions when working, we can control our reaction to criticism and stressors in the workplace, we can even control to leave this job in pursuit of something that brings us more happiness.

Once we understand the importance of controlling our own emotions and actions, as well as how to react with calmness at things that are out of our control, we will have freedom.

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