Stop Practicing These 8 Anti-Stoic Habits In Your Life

Stop Practicing These 8 Anti-Stoic Habits In Your Life

Are we seeking to stop anti-stoic habits and cultivate wisdom? Many unconsciously struggle against the principles that foster tranquility and self-mastery. By indulging impulses aligned with emotion rather than reason, we sacrifice integrity. These tendencies manifest in blaming external forces, materialistic pursuits eroding character, and complaints arising from an imprudent relationship to time. Yet the solution lies within reach through the ancient, life-affirming Stoic techniques centered on virtue, responsibility, and mastery of judgments. Only by turning inward can we overcome patterns violating our highest nature.

Allowing Destructive Emotions to Control You

The Stoics viewed emotions not as uncontrollable forces but as judgments within our power to manage. When consumed by a strong negative emotion like anger or grief, pause to evaluate the underlying judgment behind it. Ask whether your emotion reflects the event’s true nature or your interpretation. Respond by focusing only on what you can control – your reasoned thinking and virtuous actions moving forward. Redirecting your judgments this way is crucial in maintaining authority over your emotions.

Pursuing Fame and Fortune Over Virtue

Stoics held that the sole good is a virtuous character, as only wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation guarantee true happiness regardless of external circumstances. Make cultivating your virtues a daily priority rather than chasing pleasurable experiences, financial success, social praise, and other transitory things we often crave. Evaluate how you spend your time and energy. Is it aligned with excellence of character? Refocus on what you can contribute rather than what you can accumulate. Your character is your calling card.

Blaming Outside Forces Rather than Focusing Inward

For the Stoics, wisdom began with self-reflection and realizing control lies in our judgments, not external forces. No one and nothing can dictate your mindset – only you. When faced with adversity, don’t meditate on factors you can’t influence. Instead, ask what resources, virtues, and reasoned thinking can help you make the best of the situation. Even in hardship, you can play the blame game or access inner strength. Train yourself to look inward for answers instinctively.

Indulging in Excessive Pleasures and Comforts

While the Stoics did not forbid all pleasures, they cautioned against chasing luxury and comforts that erode self-discipline and distract from purpose. Periodically avoiding conveniences like hot showers, rich foods, or mindless entertainment strengthens appreciation for necessities and more meaningful activities aligned with virtue. Judge occasional luxuries mindfully, ensuring they restore rather than deplete you or inhibit excellence of character. Fulfillment comes from purpose, people, and actualizing potential – not creature comforts.

Making Decisions Based on Fear or Anger

Succumbing to emotions like fear or anger typically signals that we’ve attached too much negative judgment to external factors that are not entirely in our control. Stoics advise pausing to question any high-emotion decision. Evaluate dispassionately, asking what the logos – the ethical, reasoned response – would be once fear or anger subside. Emotions cloud logic. We can evaluate objectively and respond from conscience rather than impulse by getting distance from them. Right action often requires working through emotions, not just waiting for them to pass.

Dwelling on the Past or Worrying About the Future

Stoics focused solely on the present moment – what is under our influence now. Reliving past disappointments or worrying about tomorrow are equally fruitless. Staying fixated on the unchangeable inhibits functioning – like trying to drive forward while only looking in the rearview mirror. When you catch your mind wandering to the past or future, gently redirect your attention to the current task. Each day is a new chance to apply wisdom learned from the past while fully present. Cherish this moment, as it is the only one promised.

Complaining About Things Outside Your Control

Complaining is antithetical to Stoicism since it signals an aversion to and dissatisfaction with life’s inevitable difficulties – something outside our authority. Rather than rail against factors you cannot change – bad weather, traffic, others’ behavior – accept them calmly as part of nature’s plan greater than yourself. Then, focus on what you can control – improving your mindset and taking positive, principled action. Destructive complaining exaggerates the negative. Constructive problem-solving spotlights potential solutions. Direct your effort there.

Letting Judgments About Others Shape Your Thinking

Stoics cautioned against forming harsh judgments of others when those conclusions outpace deep wisdom. Withhold uninformed criticism, as people’s motivations are often far more complex than we realize. Instead, approach all humans with radical goodwill – assuming primary positive intentions even amidst wrongdoing. Our shared fallibility and struggles can inspire compassion. Avoid judging others’ worthiness so you can focus on your growth. There is too much we cannot foresee that shapes every life.

Failing to Live by Your Principles When It’s Inconvenient

A virtuous character requires integrity to moral principles even when inconvenient. Stoics measured a person not by occasional good behaviors when life was easy but by constancy to virtue despite difficulty or temptation. Identify situations that could compromise your ethics – financial pressure, primal urges, desire for revenge. Decide your proper response in advance so you have a firm footing to stand on when tested. Let truth and conscience dictate your actions, not ease or outside influence. Your principles matter most when standing by them has a high cost. Those are the moments that define you.

Case Study: James Finds Inner Peace Through Practical Stoicism

James was going through an intensely stressful period in his life. His high-pressure sales job overwhelmed him, and he reacted harshly to coworkers and dreaded upcoming deadlines. At home, James constantly worried about his finances and felt frustrated that his long work hours kept him from exercising or engaging in hobbies he enjoyed.

In this state of constant anxiety, minor frustrations would send James into angry rants. He frequently complained about the workload to his wife and blamed his managers anytime sales declined. James indulged in unhealthy comfort foods, wine, and excessive television after work – too mentally drained for meaningful interactions. His mind constantly raced, replaying tense meetings or planning rebuttals to perceived slights from others.

James knew this stress was taking a significant toll, but felt powerless to change things. Then, a colleague introduced him to the ancient wisdom of Stoicism. The principles resonated deeply, providing James with a new framework to regain agency over his life.

He began managing reactions through logic rather than reacting emotionally. By pausing to evaluate judgments behind distressed feelings, James responded more calmly despite the chaos around him. This helped him strengthen his presence of mind and integrity even during difficult meetings or confrontations.

James also focused time on developing virtues rather than being distracted by momentary pleasures. He engaged coworkers with more empathy, took up running to manage stress, and avoided self-pitying complaints. Though external pressures remained, James’ outlook grew hopeful as he aligned behaviors to deeper values.

James’s case study demonstrates how Stoic techniques can provide tranquility and direction. By taking self-responsibility and focusing energy inward, we can emerge resilient no matter our adversity. James found that living purposefully could steady his mind beyond conditions that aim to shake it.

Key Takeaways

  • Manage emotions rather than letting feelings rule reactions
  • Prioritize virtuous character building over materialism
  • Assume responsibility, don’t fault external factors
  • Curb indulgence, exercise discipline
  • Decide wisely; don’t choose in fear or fury
  • Focus on the present, let go of what no longer serves
  • Redirect complaints to solutions
  • Refrain from harsh judgments about others
  • Uphold principles consistently, regardless of circumstances


The path of wisdom asks us to turn inward rather than fixating outward, focusing on our potential for moral excellence. By taking ownership of our judgments and aligning behaviors with virtue rather than transient enticements, we can progress ever closer to the Stoic ideal: unshakable poise and leadership of the self. This liberation of the mind leads to fulfillment beyond conditions, stilling our complaints about the past or future through profound purpose in the eternal now. Stoicism’s life-affirming principles illuminate the only true freedom – mastery over our moment-to-moment existence.