10 lessons from Stoicism that will help anyone feeling lost in life

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Ever feel like you’re drifting through life, like a boat without a rudder?

You’re not alone. It’s something we all experience.

Now, you might be surprised to hear this, but an old philosophy called Stoicism could offer some help.

I know, I know – ‘Philosophy? That sounds boring.

But stick with me.

Stoicism isn’t about big words or confusing ideas.

It’s about real-life advice that can help us live better and feel more in control.

So, here are 10 surprising tips from Stoicism that could help steer your ship when you’re feeling lost.

1. “It’s Okay to Not Have All the Answers”

Now, this might seem a bit strange.

We’re often told that we need to know where we’re going in life, that we need to have a plan.

But the truth is, it’s okay to not have all the answers.

Stoicism teaches us that life is unpredictable and that’s perfectly fine.

Instead of stressing about the unknown, Stoics focus on what they can control – their actions and reactions.

So, next time you feel lost because you don’t have a roadmap for your life, remember it’s okay.

Focus on what you can do now, and trust that the rest will follow.

2. “Embrace Change, Don’t Fear It”

Change is the only constant in life. Sounds cliché, but it’s true.

So why do we fight it so much?

Stoicism teaches us to embrace change, not fear it.

While change can be scary and uncomfortable, it’s also what helps us grow and adapt.

By accepting and even welcoming change, we can become more resilient and flexible in life.

So, the next time you’re faced with a big change and you’re feeling lost, remember: change isn’t your enemy. It’s just a part of life, and it might even lead you to something better.

3. “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”

Now, this one hit home for me.

I used to get worked up over the tiniest things.

Spilled coffee? Day ruined.

Missed bus? Ultimate catastrophe.

Then I stumbled upon Stoicism, and it taught me a valuable lesson: don’t sweat the small stuff.

Stoics believe that we should save our energy for things that truly matter in life.

Why waste your energy on trivial things that you’ll forget about tomorrow? Instead, focus on the big picture.

So, now if I spill my coffee, I just clean it up and move on. I’ve realized my day is not defined by a minor mishap but by how I react to it.

By learning not to sweat the small stuff, you free yourself from unnecessary stress and can focus on what really matters. Trust me, it’s quite liberating!

4. “Turn Obstacles into Opportunities”

Some of the most successful people in the world use their problems as stepping stones to success.

And guess what?

This approach aligns perfectly with Stoicism!

Stoics believe that every obstacle we face in life is a chance to learn, grow, and become stronger.

They see problems not as roadblocks, but as opportunities.

This mindset is so powerful that it even has a name – “The Obstacle is The Way,” inspired by a quote from the famous Stoic, Marcus Aurelius.

So next time you encounter a problem or challenge, don’t view it as a setback.

Instead, try to see it as an opportunity to learn something new or strengthen your character.

It’s not just about being optimistic; it’s about transforming your perspective on adversity.

5. “Value Inner Peace Over Material Wealth”

We live in a world that often values material wealth above all else.

We chase after the latest gadgets, swanky cars, and designer clothes, thinking they’ll make us happy.

But Stoicism teaches us something different and deeply heartfelt: real wealth lies within.

Stoics believe in valuing inner peace and contentment over material possessions.

They argue that the pursuit of external things often leads to stress and dissatisfaction, because there’s always something new to chase after.

On the other hand, finding peace within ourselves – through self-acceptance, patience, and gratitude – can bring lasting happiness that no amount of money can buy.

So next time you find yourself yearning for the next shiny thing, remember that true wealth comes not from what you have, but who you are inside.

6. “Practice Daily Reflection”

I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine: every night before I go to bed, I spend a few minutes reflecting on my day. This is a practice I picked up from Stoicism and it has honestly changed my life.

Stoics are big on self-reflection. They believe in taking time each day to review their actions, decisions, and emotions. This practice helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses, and how they can improve.

When I first started doing my own daily reflections, I was surprised by how much it helped me understand myself better. It made me more aware of my reactions and helped me make better decisions.

Plus, it’s a great way to wind down at the end of the day.

So if you’re feeling lost, try spending a few minutes each day in quiet reflection. You might be surprised by what you discover about yourself.

7. “Let Go of the Need for Approval”

Now, let’s be honest. We all crave approval. Whether it’s likes on our Instagram posts or praise from our boss, it feels good to be validated.

But Stoicism slaps us with a harsh reality check: we need to let go of this need for approval.

Stoics teach us that seeking validation from others is a losing game. People’s opinions are fickle and trying to please everyone is impossible. More importantly, it can lead us to compromise our own values and happiness.

So, instead of chasing after other people’s approval, Stoics suggest focusing on approving of ourselves. It’s about being true to who we are and living in line with our own values, even if it means going against the crowd.

This isn’t easy, I know. But once you start living for yourself, you’ll realize how liberating it is to be free from others’ expectations.

8. “Live in the Present Moment”

Did you know that humans are the only creatures that spend so much time fretting about the past or worrying about the future?

It’s a fascinating yet sobering fact. While it’s natural for us to reflect on our past or plan for our future, too much of it can lead to stress and anxiety.

This is where Stoicism comes in with a simple yet profound reminder: live in the present moment.

Stoics believe that the present moment is all we truly have, and it’s where we have the most control.

Worrying about the past or future, things we can’t change or predict, is not only unproductive but robs us of our current happiness.

So, try to be more mindful of where your thoughts are. When you find yourself dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, gently bring yourself back to the here and now. It’s a simple shift that can make a huge difference in your wellbeing.

9. “See Life as a Teacher”

This is a lesson I hold close to my heart.

Once upon a time, I’d see life’s challenges as obstacles, things that were holding me back. But Stoicism taught me to view them in a whole new light: as lessons.

Stoicism teaches us that life is our greatest teacher. Each experience, each challenge, each moment of joy or sorrow has something to teach us, if we’re open to learning. This shift in perspective has changed how I approach difficulties. I no longer see them as roadblocks, but as opportunities for growth and learning.

So next time you face a hurdle, instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?”, try asking “What can I learn from this?”. You might be surprised by the wisdom you find.

10. “Accept What You Can’t Control”

Let’s be honest here: life is unpredictable and often, things don’t go as planned. We can’t control everything that happens to us, and that’s a tough pill to swallow. But Stoicism hands us this truth straight up: accept what you can’t control.

Stoics believe in focusing on what’s within our control – our actions, our thoughts, our responses – and letting go of the rest. They argue that it’s not the events themselves that upset us, but our judgments about them.

I think it comes down to this:

Stoic people find joy in simplicity – appreciating what we have, rather than longing for what we don’t.

In my own experience, embracing simplicity has brought a sense of peace and contentment that material possessions never could. It’s about finding joy in the small things – a good book, a hot cup of coffee, a walk in the park. These simple pleasures are often overlooked, but they’re what truly make life worth living.

So there you have it – 10 lessons from Stoicism to help you navigate life’s uncertainties. They might not solve all your problems, but they may just offer the perspective shift you need when feeling lost.

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Justin Brown

As co-founder of Ideapod, a digital publishing platform reaching millions, and creator of The Vessel, a new platform for self-knowledge, I bring a unique perspective to the world of culture, politics and psychology. With a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and M.A. (First Class Honours) from the Australian National University, I've dedicated my career to understanding and sharing new ideas and perspectives for a new generation.

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