Most of us want some sort of mental tranquility, a freedom from emotional disturbance, and the ability to maintain that tranquility regardless of whatever craziness and stress is going on around us. Some call this inner peace.

“A happy life consists in tranquility of mind.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

The ancient Greeks looked for a way to develop this, as did the Buddhists, Taoists, and dozens of other schools of thought throughout our history. The only people who want to suffer are the people happy to sit through the Twilight movies; the rest of us are trying to lessen our suffering, and for this, we’ll look to the Stoics.

Stoicism is an ancient school of Greek philosophy, and it offers us practical principles and practices that can help us grow this inner peace over time and, as a result, find lasting tranquility.

Through Stoic philosophy, we can develop emotional control, rational thinking, resilience to stress, and, after all of that, a serene mindset that’s resistant to things that would cause others to lose composure and fall into negative emotion.

Some Key Takeaways From This Article:

  • Stoicism provides practical principles and practices for cultivating inner peace.

  • When we practice stoic principles, we can learn emotional control and rationalize our thoughts.

  • Embracing mortality can help us appreciate the preciousness of life and find lasting peace.

  • Detaching from external opinions and focusing on what is right can lead to inner harmony.

  • Developing stillness and finding beauty in everyday life can further develop our peace of mind.

Finding Calm with 3 Stoic Principles

So what principles did the Stoics actually use to help develop this tranquility, and how can we build them into our day-to-day lives to help us with everyday hardships like difficult work environments or having to sit through another season of The Rings of Power?

One of the fundamental teachings of stoicism, as used by Stoic philosophers like Seneca, is the importance of not suffering imagined troubles.

This means protecting our minds from being consumed by worries and anxieties that are just figments of our imagination.

It’s not uncommon for people to sit and daydream and worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Whether it’s imaging what people think about us, going over future events that we think will go badly, or anticipating arguments with people. We generally should stop all this.

The only exception to this rule is when we deliberately think about negative future events so that we can work through how we would approach them and process them in more constructive ways. This is called negative visualisation.

So let’s get into the three principles.

1. Developing Emotional Control

Stoic philosophy teaches us to master our emotions rather than allowing them to control us.

Mastery doesn’t mean forcing ourselves to feel something different. Which is, arguably, not possible to do consistently.

It means learning how to be aware of what you’re feeling in real time, and then, when we’re aware of what we’re thinking and feeling, we can take short-term and long-term action to respond more constructively.

Short Term: Learn how to act through reason rather than emotion. This will involve catching ourselves in the moment and deliberately choosing to act rationally rather than emotionally.

Long Term: Learning ways to process and perceive what you’re experiencing in a different way. This means finding out what triggers negative emotions like anger, frustration, and envy and then reframing how we see those triggers so that we’re more resilient to them.

When we change the way we perceive the external world, we change our emotional response to it.

This is all grounded in recognizing our emotions, acknowledging them, but not allowing them to overcome our rational thinking.

Stoicism encourages us to pause, reflect, and choose a virtuous response rather than reacting impulsively out of anger or fear.

Stoicism also teaches us that we have the power to choose how we respond to any situation, and this power gives us the ability to maintain our peace of mind.

2. Rationalization

Another core principle of Stoic philosophy is the practice of rationalization.

Stoics encourage us to examine our thoughts and beliefs, testing them for accuracy and rationality. Through critically analyzing our perceptions and challenging our assumptions, we can develop a more objective view of the world and find serenity in chaos.

This is also known as the Socratic Method. The Stoics borrowed this from Socrates.

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca

Stoic philosophers like Seneca remind us that many of the troubles we face are imagined or exaggerated in our minds.

When we learn to separate reality from our perceptions, we can free ourselves from unnecessary worry and find that peace of mind we’re after.

Rationalization allows us to recognize that external events are not under our control, but our response to them is.

3. Finding Beauty in Everyday Life

Stoic philosophy also teaches us to find beauty in the simplicity and ordinariness of everyday life.

If we can learn to shift our perspective and practice gratitude, we can appreciate the small moments and ordinary experiences that often go unnoticed or are taken for granted.

Stoicism encourages us to connect with nature, be mindful of our surroundings, and find joy in the present moment.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

– Marcus Aurelius

Through this practice, we can develop a deeper appreciation for the world around us, and by finding beauty in the mundane, we can inject little pockets of tranquility into our lives.


Embracing Mortality for Lasting Peace

To deepen the feeling of mental tranquillity the Stoics had their own way of looking at our mortality.

This Stoic approach to life and death can help us lessen the fear we have of dying and, in doing so, help us live life more fully.

The first step in this process is to acknowlede the inevitability of death. We all die, and one day our time will come.

When we can learn to accept this, rather than resist it, we can replace our fear with an appreciation for the finite nature of life and the world around us. In knowing that everything is temporary we can feel a sense of gratitude and enjoyment from things because we never know when we’ll eat our favourite food for the last time, spend time with our friends for the last time, or listen to our favourite music for the last time.

Stoic philosophers like Seneca urge us to embrace death as a natural part of our existence.

“He who has learned to die has unlearned slavery; he is above any external power, or, at any rate, he is beyond it. What terrors have prisons and bonds and bars for him? His way out is clear. There is only one chain which binds us to life, and that is the love of life.”

– Seneca

Rather than obsessing over the length of our lives, stoicism teaches us to focus on the quality of our experiences and relationships.

Detaching from External Opinions

Next we have detachment.

In the pursuit of inner peace, the Stoics offer us some guidance on how to detach from the opinions of others.

As Marcus Aurelius observed, we often find ourselves caring more about what others think of us than what we truly believe.

This dependence on external validation can disrupt our search for inner peace because we fixate too much on externals and pay too little attention to our internals, like our beliefs, values, thoughts, and perceptions.

Stoicism instructs us to redirect our focus towards what is fundamentally right, virtuous, and true, rather than seeking self-validation through others.

Our morality should guide our behaviour, not some attempt to comply with the expectations of other people.

To help us detach from external opinions, the Stoics embraced self-validation and learning to trust in our own judgment.

Instead of seeking approval from others, we can develop a sense of self-worth by staying true to our values and principles.

When we focus on our own actions and intentions, we can find peace in knowing that we are doing what we believe is right. This fundamental shift in our mindset allows us to reclaim our power, freeing ourselves from the burden of seeking validation from externals.

Taking a View From Above

Lastly in our search for inner peace we have the Stoic practice of taking a bird’s eye view of life.

This technique teaches us to detach ourselves from the little trivialities and minor conflicts that so often consume our thoughts and emotions.

Generally speaking the view from above helps us zoom out of the small pocket of space and time we live in, and look at the whole world more broadly, with all of the lives, troubles, and hardships going on around us.

This helps put our own life in perspective, and helps to prevent us from making mountains out of molehills and suffering more than is necessary.

In stoicism, part of the idea of detachment involves stepping back from our immediate concerns and seeing the world as a whole. Stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius encourage us to rise above the details that can cause distress and instead embrace a more holistic view. By doing so, we can let go of unnecessary worries and focus on what truly matters.

“Think of substance in its entirety, of which you have the smallest of shares; and of time in its entirety, of which a brief and momentary span has been assigned to you; and of the works of destiny, and how very small is your part in them.”

– Marcus Aurelius

When we adopt a bird’s eye view of life, the small challenges and conflicts that consume us can seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

We realize that what may appear significant in the moment holds little importance in the broader context of our lives. This realization allows us to let go of unnecessary worries and find lasting peace.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

One approach to taking a bird’s eye view of life is to practice perspective-shifting exercises. Here are a few examples:

  • Imagine yourself floating above the Earth, observing the vastness of the world and the insignificance of individual concerns.

  • Reflect on historical events and consider how they have shaped the world. This helps to put current challenges into perspective.

  • Practice gratitude by focusing on the things that bring you joy and fulfillment. This can shift your attention away from minor irritations and toward the positive aspects of life.



How can stoicism help in building inner peace?

Stoicism offers practical principles and practices that can help individuals cultivate emotional control, rationalization, and detachment from external opinions. By incorporating stoic teachings into their daily lives, individuals can develop inner peace and tranquility.

What are some stoic practices for achieving inner tranquility?

Stoic practices for inner tranquility include embracing stillness and solitude for reflection, finding beauty in everyday life, reflecting on mortality for perspective, and taking a bird’s eye view of life to detach from trivialities and conflicts.

How does stoicism teach us to embrace our mortality for lasting peace?

Stoic philosophy encourages individuals to accept the inevitability of death and see it as a reminder to live each day to its fullest. By embracing our mortality, we can appreciate the preciousness of life and find inner peace and tranquility.

How can stoicism help in detaching from the opinions of others?

Stoicism teaches us to focus on what is right and true, rather than seeking validation from external sources. By practicing virtues such as kindness and patience, individuals can cultivate inner harmony and not be overly concerned with the opinions of others.

How can stoicism help in finding stillness and peace of mind in a busy world?

Stoic practices such as scheduling moments of stillness and solitude for reflection can help individuals cultivate peace of mind and a deeper understanding of themselves. By embracing boredom and being comfortable with oneself, individuals can find inner peace amidst the busyness of life.

How does stoicism teach us to find beauty in everyday life?

Stoic philosophy encourages individuals to appreciate the little things that often go unnoticed and find serenity and gratitude in the simplicity of everyday life. By practicing gratitude and mindfulness, individuals can cultivate inner peace and a deeper appreciation for life.

Why is reflecting on our mortality important for gaining perspective?

Reflecting on our mortality helps us recognize the fleeting nature of life and appreciate the present moment. Stoicism teaches us to live each day as if it were our last and make the most of our time, leading to a sense of purpose and lasting peace.

How can taking a bird’s eye view of life help in finding tranquility?

By looking at life from a broader perspective, individuals can let go of unnecessary worries and find tranquility. Stoicism teaches us to see the world as a whole, rather than getting caught up in individual details, leading to a sense of inner peace.

What are the key principles of stoicism for achieving inner peace?

The key principles of stoicism for achieving inner peace include cultivating emotional control, rationalization, detachment from external opinions, finding stillness, appreciating the beauty in everyday life, reflecting on mortality for perspective, and taking a bird’s eye view of life to detach from trivialities and conflicts

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One Comment

  1. These recent articles have been enormously helpful in directing my thinking towards positive steps that I can take to live life to the fullest, whilst embracing stillness, and cultivating gratitude and inner peace. Thank you so much

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