The three 'ISM'S' that changed my life

Only the educated are free- Epictetus

My life for the past two and half years has revolved around three 'Ism's'. These three 'ism's' are Stoicism, Minimalism, and existentialism. These three philosophies have changed my life massively and today I would like to outline them.

Stoicism

Stoicism is a discipline that teaches self-control above all. Believed to have been created by the teacher Zeno in the third century BC, but many of the famed Stoics came around in the late history of Stoicism like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epicurious. The basic fundamentals of stoicism is, as I said above, is self-control. Learning the ability to control the passionate and desirous parts of our brains. Once these lower values are under control, you can now focus on the most important value… rationality. The word stoic has gotten a bad rep for quite a while. ‘Stoic’ seems to be a bad word for someone who doesn’t feel pain and has a limited propensity for pleasure. This accusation isn’t necessarily wrong; a stoic know’s that life is going to happen, the good and bad. It matters not when the event happens, only how you deal with it when it comes. Stoicism has cleared my mind and made my life more directed towards what I truly want.

Existentialism

I value my individuality over anything else and this belief has penetrated my philosophical beliefs, as well as my political ones. Am an atheist and therefore believe that humanity is not the ‘chosen people’ created by some omnipresent, omnipotent being. Many find that This idea that as individuals are alone very depression. I, however, find it empowering, knowing that my life isn’t predestined. I will live for a certain amount of time, then I shall die, that’s it!. Between those periods is called life and I plan on making it whatever I choose it to be. If I make mistakes then I shall have to own them, as I can’t blame them on anyone or any unobservable being. Existentialism makes you question the meaning of your own life, something that I personally believe is a necessity for every human being, although so few ever do it. If you want to learn more about existentialism I recommend reading the following:

  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Essays and Aphorisms by Arthur Schopenhauer
  • The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
  • Anything by John Paul Sartre (except his later socialist writings, that makes no sense)

Minimalism

Minimalism was the precursor to the two 'Ism’s' above. I discovered Minimalism at the lowest point in my life. I built myself back up through the teachings of Minimalism. I removed the superfluous stuff from my life in order to find what I truly love to do. It is Minimalism that made me go to university, Minimalism helped me find Stoicism and perhaps most importantly of all, I found my love of writing and in extension, this blog. I found Minimalism through the ‘The Minimalists’, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Their story of growing up poor, becoming successful, and then releasing that all the things that came with success were not what they wanted. After several successive low points in Millburn’s life (much like my depression) he set about changing his life, pairing down all the trappings of success and finally leaving a job he hated. His friend since school, Ryan, impressed by how different Millburn seemed, followed him into minimalism. Both have gone on to inspire me and millions of others through their blog, three books, and speaking tours all over the world. I owe so much to these guys. They not only changed my life but gave my the ability to fully form it.