wikiHow to Be Stoic

Three Parts:Learning Modern StoicismEmbracing Traditional Stoic PhilosophyApplying Stoicism to Your Life

"Stoic" is a word often used to describe people who show their emotions very little or do not talk much. While it has this everyday meaning, Stoicism was actually a Philosophy followed by a number of ancient Greeks and Romans which was meant to make people happier by teaching them to control their negative emotions. Whether you want to simply learn to be stoic in the modern sense or embrace the ancient philosophy and banish sadness from your life, read below for some great advice.

Part 1
Learning Modern Stoicism

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    Internalize your emotions. Keep your emotions inside and do not let them show outwardly. Experience them but do not show it. Keep your experience of your emotions limited to inside yourself.
    • This will take practice. You can watch emotional movies or TV shows, if you want to practice holding back your emotions. Try episodes of WWYD on Youtube.
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    Keep your reactions minimal. When something happens that brings out an emotional response in you, physically react as little as possible. Keep your facial expressions in check and don't cry or get visibly angry.
    • Try thinking about something else, if you can. If you struggle with that, sing a song inside your head to manually focus on something else.
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    Verbally respond as little as possible. When someone asks you a question, say as little as you can. When you're feeling emotional, don't tell people what you're thinking or feeling, or say anything that might give it away.
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    Speak, generally, very little. In general, speak as little as possible. This will give you a more stoic appearance, but it will also help you practice for times when you're trying to minimize your emotional response.
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    Don't volunteer information. Much like responding to questions as little as possible, you shouldn't just tell people things about yourself, your thoughts, or your feelings.
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    Never complain. Complaining is a sure sign of a lot of internal emotions, like anger and sadness, so avoid it. Instead of complaining about things that bother you, take the situation into your own hands and fix the problem yourself.
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    Express your emotions later, in private. Bottling emotions and not dealing with them, as the above methods can lead to, is very unhealthy. Make sure you find a healthy way to express your emotions later, in private. This can be yelling or crying into a pillow, writing your feelings and thoughts in a journal, or whatever else you find works for you.

Part 2
Embracing Traditional Stoic Philosophy

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    Place importance on logic. The idea behind Stoicism is that our negative emotions can lead us to make bad decisions and generally make our life worse. Since emotions are often illogical responses, Stoicism seeks to solve emotional problems by applying logic to the situation. Try to apply logic to the situations in your daily life to practice for when you find yourself in emotional situations.
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    Examine your biases. You may think that living a certain way or doing certain things is less than another way of living, and thinking that way can lead to lots of negative emotions, when things don't go your way or people disagree with you. Consider your biases and think about other ways of looking at those situations. This will make it easier to cope with problems.
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    Minimize negative emotions. The goal of Stoicism is not to minimize all emotion but instead to minimize negative emotions. This philosophy seeks to make you happier in your life by reducing the impact of emotions like sadness, anger, fear, and envy. Doing this should be your main goal as a budding Stoic.
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    Encourage positive emotions. While minimizing your experience of negative emotions, you should practice allowing and encouraging yourself to be happy. Getting depressed or banishing happy thoughts can become almost a habit for some people, and breaking that habit should be another goal if you find that quality in yourself.
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    Retrain your priorities. Humans tend to always want the next best thing. No matter how great the things we have are, we'll always find something to be unhappy with. Stoicism seeks to retrain your brain so that you learn to be happier with the things that you do have.
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    Find beauty and wonder in the world. A part of learning to be happier with the things we have is to learn to find happiness in the world around us. We get a a little jaded sometimes (and it is a jaded age, for sure) but if you stop and realize that the world around you is so incredible, you find yourself enjoying your life more. Stop and embrace the moment. Let yourself be filled with amazement and wonder.
    • Think about it: you have a phone the size of your hand that you can take anywhere and call anyone in the world. That's amazing. You're living in a sci-fi novel!
    • Even the natural world is incredible. Did you know that there are trees that are taller than the Statue of Liberty or Big Ben? Incredible!
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    Avoid permanence. When we get attached to things, people, or situations, we tend to be more prone to big emotional swings when we lose those things. The Stoic philosophy teaches us to be open to and accepting of change, giving up the sense of permanence that can cause devastation when loss occurs.
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    Read up on the stoic philosophers. Learn more about Stoicism by reading up on the Stoic philosophers, if you want to fully embrace the philosophy. Stoicism, which was practically a religion in ancient times, was highly regarded and widely practiced by people of class and education, making the things that were written about it widely available and very interesting. Famous historical figures like Cicero and Marcus Aurelius were devoted Stoics and wrote extensively about their beliefs. Look them up!

Part 3
Applying Stoicism to Your Life

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    Release anger. When you find yourself getting angry at something that's happening around you: stop. Think. Is getting angry going to help the situation? No. Your emotional reaction will do little to change the situation. Instead, it is your actions that will make the changes you want to see. When things make you angry, look for what needs to be done to fix the problem and do that.
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    Experience life through others. If a person is making you angry or frustrated, try to see the problem through their eyes. Realize that we all make mistakes. People rarely do things to be malicious or cause problems. They usually think that they're doing the right thing. Try to understand why they made the mistake that they did and forgive them for it, then move on to making things better.
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    Let yourself experience sadness. Don't try to shove sadness out of your life. Don't ball it up and never deal with it. This is very unhealthy. Instead, experience it and move on quickly. Be sad for a few days and then get back to life. No matter why you're sad, staying away from happiness won't make your life better, only worse.
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    Try imagining loss. This is called negative visualization. Negative visualization is a common training trick and everyday practice for Stoics. This is when you imagine your life without something that is very important to you. Maybe you imagine that you lost your job, or that your spouse divorces you, or your child is taken away from you. It sounds upsetting, and it definitely isn't fun to do, but it will significantly increase your enjoyment of the good things in your life, and teach you how to cope with loss by preparing yourself for it.
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    Try removing yourself from the situation. This is called projective visualization. This is another practice. Although it is less effective than the first, it can be more useful when you are actively dealing with something that upsets you. The idea here is to imagine this bad thing that is happening to you is happening to someone else. What advice would you give them. How would your opinion of the situation change. Usually when something bad happens to someone else, we tell them that we feel very bad for them but that sometimes these things just happen. And that's the truth of the situation: things happen that we can't control and being overly upset about it won't make things any better. Apply these ideas to your own situation and it may help you to feel better.
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    Experience the moment. Enjoy what you are doing right now, while you are doing it. As we said before, the human tendency is to be a little bit unhappy no matter what we're doing, but you should fight back that feeling to appreciate the situation that you're in right now. This is an area where negative visualization can be useful. Just remember that the world is an incredible place, and no matter how bad things seem, there are still waterfalls, birds in brilliant colors, children who sings songs, and people who love you.
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    Accept and expect change. Stoics fight against a sense of permanence, against the idea that things should or will always be the same. What we have to remember is that change is good. When things we love come to an end, that can be hard to accept, but try to remember that something good ending only opens up the possibilities for more good things to come into your life. When bad things are happening to you and it feels like they'll never end, it is still important to remember that that is not the case.
    • This is when the common Stoic mantra, as popularized by Joseph Campbell, comes in to play: "This too shall pass." Just repeat that phrase until you feel better.
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    Appreciate what you have. The most important application of Stoicism to your life is to appreciate what you have while you have it. Don't complain about your girlfriend's snoring or your baby crying or your dog wanting to play too much. These are things you'd miss if you didn't have them. Appreciate them and tell them how much you love them every moment that you can.


  • Breathe deeply. Oxygen will help you relax, which will help you be stoic.
  • Don't obviously revel in being mysterious, and don't try too hard. People should view this as part of your basic character - who you are at your core - rather than a role you're trying to play. If you come across as the latter, you won't be viewed as mysterious, just immature.
  • Move and speak as little as possible. Do everything efficiently as if you are lazy, but always keep good posture.
  • Confide in someone you trust. Sometimes keeping it all bottled up will become just too much. Have someone in your life whom you trust deeply and in whom you can confide anything. Without such an outlet, you risk becoming cold-hearted, paranoid, and unfeeling.
  • It is true that models are directed to be stoic, but taking on this look does not in itself make you more attractive. Models are meant to be moving mannequins and the stoic look is a traditional part of their character. That being said, a stoic look will give an edge to very feminine girls and a powerful look to men.
  • Let down your defenses more around those you truly trust.


  • Avoid being incomprehensible. That will make people shake their heads and abandon you as a lost cause, and possibly consider you a bit rude too.
  • Being stoic should not equate to being rude and thoughtless about other people. Don't blatantly ignore people or brush off their questions; while it's fine to make it clear that there are some topics you won't discuss, avoid being rude about it or about not giving out information that Google could tell them.

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Categories: Personal Development