Why You Must Become a Modern-Day Stoic (And What to Do to Become One)

David Goggins. Possibly the toughest man alive. The only person to complete SEAL training, US Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. He also holds the current record for most pull-ups done in 24 hours.

He once famously ran 100 miles in 24 hours, and he did it by sheer power of will. The metatarsal bones in his feet were broken. There were stress fractures, shin splints, and muscles tearing. He was peeing blood down his leg because he couldn’t make it to a toilet 20 feet from him.

He was on the brink of death, but he kept going nonetheless.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not our bodies that break under high stress, but rather our minds. It is all a mental game.

Yes, pain is inevitable. The avoidance of pain, the desire for comfort, the clinging to one’s comfort zone, all of those cause us pain.

But suffering is optional…

Want to know why?

Read on.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Most people have it all figured upside down. They desire comfort for as long as possible, even though they know it only leads to suffering in the end.

You smoke cigarettes for the endorphins until you destroy your body and end up regretting it.

You avoid failure, rejections, criticism only to become bitter and remorseful.

You avoid taking responsibility for your life, only to wake up defeated each and every morning for the rest of your life.

We avoid pain, and that’s why we suffer.

But what if you were to go about life the other way around?

What if you decided to suffer now? To become uncomfortable each and every day? To give up on addictions, on the habits that allow you to escape reality, from the fast food, from all the sweets, from not working out.

What if you decided to stick to a course of action long enough to see the kind of results few people ever get?

What if you knew why you’d do such a thing? What if you decided what kind of pain to endure and for how long?

What if you were to take a cold shower once in a while? To walk to work instead of driving? To go a day or two without eating? To give up on social media for an entire month?

What if you decided to keep blogging even if no one else gave a damn about your stuff?

Why you must be a stoic.

We are a soft generation. If you believe that is not true, ask yourself if you ever got upset over what someone else said. Or maybe it was a traffic jam? The cashier at Starbucks misunderstood your order? Had to wait in line at the grocery store?

What are the kind of things you give a damn about?

What if you were to receive a phone call at 3 in the morning telling you that a loved one has passed away?

What if you were told you only had a few months to live?

What if you’d find yourself struggling to find enough food to survive?

We are meant to survive in a harsh environment. Comfort breeds monsters. The kind of people who have no inner fortitude at all. The kind of people who suffer from stupid, little things.

If running is difficult, run as much as you can.

This applies to everything you do in life.

Do what is hard, what is necessary, what will take you to the next level.

Do what is painful, tiresome, what few people are willing to do.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with a wretched and miserable life, no matter what you posses, no matter who loves you and cares for you.

The Ancient stoic philosophers advised that we should embrace suffering.

Strengthen your mind and your resolve by voluntarily putting yourself through situations in which you struggle. Chose the path of most resistance every day of your life.

And you’ll become a little bit more than what most people would define as “human.”

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11 thoughts on “Why You Must Become a Modern-Day Stoic (And What to Do to Become One)

  1. Enjoyed this post.
    I think I made this comment someplace, but when I was young, I had a single prayer. I prayed that I wouldn’t lead a boring life. I’m pretty sure that when I made that prayer, God, the Father, leaned back, smiled, and said, “Ok, Mr. Adventure. Buckle up.”
    Boring it hasn’t been. There have been times that I flirted with being homeless. There are times I went without food. There are times I pushed myself right to physical edge, and then pushed myself just a little more. I’ve known great victories and crushing defeats.
    And I thank God for each and everyone of them. Without those, I know I wouldn’t be who I am today.
    I think adversity builds what the old timers called “Backbone”. I can take the worse the world can throw at me and say, “Someday. you’ll win. But not today!”

    Like

    • Your comment reminds me of St. Augustine’s prayer: ‘Lord make me pure but not yet!’

      Your comment also reminds me of a quote by Hunter S. Thompson: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

      I think that we should live our lives in such a way to minimize regrets, in such a way that we do not fear death. And this requires courage. You need to fall a couple times, to face some pretty serious storms, to get lost, to make mistakes…

      Like

  2. Wonderful article with some very valid points. I love Stoic philosophy. Ever since my reading of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and Massimo Pugliucci’s How to Be a Stoic, I’ve been hooked. Interesting how the stoic view of suffering is quite similar to the Buddhist perception, in that we should rise to our suffering, greet it, hold our suffering near to us as a mother holds her child, as opposed to attempting escape by running away from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said. I like the sound of this David Goggins, must look him up.
    Stoic philosophy is a very fruitful way of life. As you say, a key aspect of it is facing life head on and coping with pain rather than shrinking from it, and to this end training oneself to become inured to suffering. As Marcus Aurelius said, ‘the art of living is more like wrestling than dancing’.

    But also that Stoicism doesn’t end there. Most of all it is a philosophy of inner peace, not simply of gruelling endeavour. Stoics like to stop and smell the roses!

    Liked by 1 person

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