In reading about the philosophy of Stoicism it can offer a person pause. Pause to consider one’s motivations in this modern world, how one might operate, and maybe ways to self-regulate one self. Being a stoic is not about the stiff upper lip definition many of us might think, but rather a philosophy about how to live, how to treat others, and the basis stems from one’s ethics, morals and integrity having priority in how one is motivated.
Stoic philosophy fits with the Serenity Prayer of accepting the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. During a pandemic like covid these are lessons we are facing over and over. Having a philosophy to practice acceptance, courage and wisdom seem important.
The Philosophy of Stoicism is ancient and seems focused on the individual practice of how one lives one’s life, rather than joining an organized group. The practice is in the doing. The core essence is in bringing ethics, morals and integrity into the day to day living of one’s life. One can have material bounty too, yet the ethics and integrity of how one is externally driven and acts would have priority to a Stoic, not gaining the externals like money or power themselves.
Many of us seem to have lost our ways, or gotten gobbled up by external dramas and devices. Could practicing Stoicism offer another way to connect with one own’s internal compass, that sense of rightness for oneself? When one is lined up with one’s own integrity and ethics, one often finds a joyful sense of groundedness, comfort, and even purpose. May we have the courage to change the things we can.
As we age, we have a new kind of perspective, a hard earned one in many ways. And investing in what we want more of matters. Be it money, time, people, where we invest those things, says a lot about what we value. And now in aging deliciously, there are some better choices emerging of how we can invest our time, money and energy.
As for money, there are options for impact investing, to invest in areas that we want to support. There are world funds, banks and organizations that are focused on elevating businesses and communities wanting to solve social or environmental problems. Investing your money in organizations supporting your values and the world you want to live in empowers those businesses that do good in the world.
Thankfully this is a growing trend, especially of a new generation leading this charge. It is exciting and makes sense to have more and more funds, banks and organizations focused on socially responsible and sustainable investing, be it a local community or farther afield. As money gets directed towards these initiatives and away from old financial models, we lift up new industry, growth, communities and possibilities.
How come some books are ageless, meaning their content is valid for seemingly decades? A simple book generated over one summer, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is such a gem. Written in 1955, it holds truths, wisdom and relevance to this present time. Initially she was just writing down her own musings, gaining clarity for herself during a few contemplative weeks on her own, separate from her busy life as wife and mother. Getting away on one’s own in 1955 seems a progressive notion for all involved to make that happen. Out of her contemplative time came Gift from the Sea, where Anne compares her daily beach treasures such as moon shells, sunrises and oyster beds to human life and the challenges which are universal and still valid more than 65 years later. Few people take the time, or have the contemplative nature to see patterns, articulate them and then share them in ways that can be illuminating for others.
Here’s such a Gift from the Sea, page 37-38
…For it is not physical solitude that actually separates one from other (people), not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others…..Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.
Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 18, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author, orator, and adviser to multiple presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community and of the contemporary black elite. Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. They were newly oppressed in the South by disenfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Finding the inspired words these days from within oneself can be challenging. Thankfully there are books to peruse for inspiration, discussion groups, and thoughtful friends.
Here’s an excerpt to share from Deepak Chopra’s Book, The 7 Spiritual Laws of Superheroes.
Authenticity is one of the most important aspects of real power. When it comes to their language, integrity, actions, and even thoughts and intentions, superheroes emphasize authenticity above all else. They are honest and genuine, saying what they mean clearly, without duplicity, and align their actions with their highest intentions.
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
Being broken is what makes us human. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis of our shared search for comfort, meaning and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.
“Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson
This speaks to a form of courage that seems hard for us to display, feel or reveal to one another these days. Yet to be vulnerable, and share, seems one of the greatest sources of strength and courage humans have. By being vulnerable, which speaks to trusting, and inner strength, is a strong way to connect to ourselves and one another.
Being curious about one another, curious rather than afraid about how we might be different; can lead to an inspired energy to come together and solve what seems insurmountable. When we feel divided that energy isn’t there. We have choices in each moment and in each day to nurture and grow our common humanity.