One of the beautiful things about Stoic philosophy, other than the writings and practices themselves, are the side effects of practicing the philosophy.

From the practice of Stoicism comes emotional resilience, and it’s this relationship between resilience and philosophy that we’re going to have a look at today.

Stoicism is an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in 301 BC and is going through a resurgence, presumably due to its practicality and effectiveness at lessening stress, building resilience, and providing guidance on what is good action and what is not.

It’s a perfect antidote for a time of misinformation, distrust, complexity, and a culture that values things like money, wealth, fame, and success above everything else. Because in this chaos, we find that Stoicism focuses on the content of character rather than external validation; it turns down the noise by instructing us to focus on what we can control and come to terms with everything else; and it lays out a framework on which to build a simple personal philosophy to navigate life, like a simple wooden boat we can use to ride over the waters of stress and chaos and not get wet.

In short, stoicism offers us a road to developing a resilient mindset and maintaining emotional balance in the face of challenge and adversity.

In this article, we will open the book on the core tenets of Stoic philosophy and examine how they can be applied to build an emotional resilience in our daily lives.

Key Takeaways:

  • Stoic principles highlight the role of our thoughts and beliefs in shaping our emotions.

  • Stoicism provides a complete philosophy of life and moral values, making it an appealing alternative to other philosophical traditions and religions.

  • Stoicism can be viewed as a form of psychotherapy and self-help, using ancient practices to provide guidance for personal growth and resilience.


The Path to Stoicism

Becoming a Stoic requires a few things:

  1. A deliberate and continuous effort to train the mind, be aware of how you think and behave, and shift these thoughts and behaviours into alignment with Stoic values and ideals

  2. Learning the core virtues valued by the Stoics and reflecting them in your behaviour

  3. Learn some common Stoic practices to help guide your thoughts and actions and improve your character.

Daily reflection on these things as well as building general introspection habits are essential in the Stoic way of life. These habits enable us to assess our thoughts, actions, and reactions and make ongoing improvements.

Well-being is realized by small steps, but is truly no small thing.

– Zeno of Citium

Developing a Stoic Mindset

Given that Stoicism is a philosophical world view, a large part of the Stoic practice is the development of a Stoic way of looking at life.

This involves embracing the fundamental principles of Stoicism and integrating them into one’s daily life.

This includes:

  1. Accepting what we can’t control

  2. Taking responsibility for what we can control

  3. Being grateful for what life has given us

  4. Learning to live in alignment with nature

  5. Viewing virtue as the only good and vice as the only evil

  6. Being compassionate with your fellow man

  7. Valuing character over wealth and possessions.

  8. Reason is more reliable and more constructive than emotion.

These examples can help us align our worldview with the Stoics and develop the virtues of wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. You can think of these as the bricks to place down as a foundation on which to build a mindset of resilience, balance, rationality, and calm.

Stoic Practices and Techniques

Now that we have the foundation of the Stoic mindset down, we can take a look at some specific techniques.

These practices are designed to build the emotional resilience we’re talking about and enhance personal growth. Some key Stoic practices include:

  • Meditation: Stoic meditation involves dedicating time each day to reflect on one’s thoughts, actions, and reactions. This practice allows us to get some insight into our inner world and make necessary adjustments for personal growth.

  • Journaling: Keeping a stoic journal provides an opportunity to document thoughts and reflections. When we regularly record our experiences and emotions, we can identify patterns and make deliberate changes.

  • Philosophical Reading: Engaging with stoic literature and philosophy provides a deeper understanding of the philosophy and its principles.

  • Virtue Ethics: Stoicism places great importance on virtue ethics. To a Stoic virtue is the only real good. The philosophy guides us to build virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance.

Developing Emotional Resilience

So then, on our path to emotional resilience, we can use Stoicism as a foundation and build our own personal philosophy from Stoic principles.

To be resilient, we need to make sure that our character, our wellbeing, and our peace of mind are all stable enough to resist external pressure.

When we can’t resist external pressure, we let the things around us define how we feel and how we act. For example road rage; other drivers cause us anger, and we respond as a reaction to their behaviour rather than behaving in a way that reflects our virtues.

When we are resilient, we accept that other people will act as they will. No amount of negative emotion will change the driver’s behaviour in that moment, but it will ruin our peace of mind.

One of the fundamental principles of Stoicism is accepting what cannot be controlled. When we recognize that certain events are beyond the reach of our influence, we can focus our energy on what we can control: our own thoughts, actions, and reactions. This small shift in how we see the world can help us to transform our reactions to external events.

Things that used to annoy and frustrate us will begin to bounce off us as we accept them and focus on what we can actually influence. Epictetus said:

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others.

– Epictetus

This is an example of how Stoic philosophy can help us become resilient. There are dozens of these practices within the philosophy, some of which we’ll cover in a moment.


Stoic Mindfulness and Resilience Training

Stoic mindfulness involves two things:

  1. Developing self-awareness of how we think and react to stimulus

  2. Practicing mindfulness in real time to respond rationally to life’s challenges (rather than emotionally)

Stoics also employ a practice called negative visualization, which involves deliberately thinking about worst-case scenarios to accept that, even if they happen, we’ll likely be OK and able to manage the situation (even if there is a lot of discomfort).

Stoicism shares some similarities with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a widely used approach in psychotherapy. The founders of CBT were also readers of Stoic philosophy.

Both of these practices, much like the Socratic Method, involve examining and challenging unhelpful thoughts and beliefs.

The Stoic approach encourages individuals to identify irrational or negative thought patterns and replace them with healthier alternatives.

This practice of Stoic mindfulness and resilience training, when built into our daily lives, can have a massive impact on shifting the way we see the world for the better. And when we see the world differently, we respond to it differently.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

– Marcus Aurelius

The Benefits of Stoic Mindfulness and Resilience Training

As you might be able to tell from what we’ve been through so far, this Stoic training offers a handful of benefits for people seeking to enhance their emotional well-being and better cope with life’s challenges:

  • Increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence

  • Improved ability to cope with stress and adversity

  • Enhanced capacity for rational decision-making

  • Greater acceptance of life’s uncertainties

  • Strengthened mental and emotional resilience

  • Heightened appreciation for the present moment



To end, I think Stoic philosophy contains all of the ingredients for a great, practical life philosophy. One that particularly lends itself to growing a lasting resilience in its practitioners.

Through the following practices, we can start to create a solid foundation on which to live a happy and resilient life:

  1. Mindfullness

  2. A focus on what we can control

  3. Journaling

  4. A focus on internal character rather than external wealth

  5. A focus on developing virtues like wisdom, courage, temperance, and courage

  6. Accepting change and that which we can’t control

Over time, with effort, we can begin to see how our mind works and how it responds and feels in different situations. When we are aware, we can train our minds to see these situations through different lenses. When we perceive the world differently, it stirs different emotions and feelings in us. When we feel differently, we respond and react differently.

This cycle is the cycle of self improvement. Stoicism is excellent in guiding that process.


What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in 301 BC. It emphasizes the role of our thoughts and beliefs in shaping our emotions and offers a framework for building emotional resilience.

How does Stoicism relate to psychotherapy and self-help?

Stoicism has been recognized as a form of psychotherapy since ancient times and offers insights into emotional therapy. Many modern self-help books draw on Stoic principles to provide guidance for personal growth and resilience.

Can Stoicism help with building resilience?

Yes, Stoicism provides coping skills and a mindset that can help individuals cope better with life challenges and bounce back from stressful events, thus building emotional resilience.

What are the practices involved in Stoicism and resilience training?

Stoic mindfulness, negative visualization, detachment from outcomes, and the cultivation of equanimity are some of the practices involved in Stoicism and resilience training.

How can I become stoic?

Becoming stoic requires a deliberate and continuous effort to train the mind and cultivate resilience. Self-awareness, mindfulness, and daily reflection are essential in the Stoic way of life.

How does Stoicism help in developing emotional resilience?

Stoicism emphasizes embracing negative emotions and reframing them as opportunities for growth, as well as detaching from outcomes and cultivating emotional balance. These practices help in developing emotional resilience.

What are the steps to train the mind and become stoic?

Training the mind involves daily reflection, introspection, and self-awareness to assess thoughts, actions, and reactions. Negative visualization and cultivating a balanced perspective are also important aspects of becoming stoic.

What is the promise of Stoicism as resilience training?

Stoicism offers a comprehensive philosophy and lifelong commitment to acquiring coping skills, making it a promising form of resilience training that can provide lasting changes in mindset and behavior.

How does Stoicism relate to modern psychology?

Stoicism has gained recognition in modern psychology, particularly in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Its principles and practices are explored for their therapeutic benefits and potential alternative or complement to existing therapy techniques.

Can Stoicism help with emotional resilience?

Yes, Stoicism offers a powerful tool for building emotional resilience and fortifying mental strength by embracing Stoic principles and practices and cultivating a stoic mindset.

What are the benefits of Stoicism for building emotional resilience?

Stoicism provides a comprehensive philosophy of life and a practical framework for acquiring coping skills, enabling individuals to thrive in the face of adversity and maintain emotional balance.

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