Self-questioning is the primary factor to measure our level of growth, where we are in life and how long it will take us to reach our destination. Self-reflection is not possible without self-questioning. So here, comes the stoic reflection questions. Stoic perspective of questions and their value in our life.
“Look outside and you will see yourself. Look inside and you will find yourself.”Andrew Daniel
To master a subject, it’s important to ask more relevant questions to the teacher. Likewise, to master ourselves emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. We have to ask ourselves questions.
Difference between a goal oriented and directionless person is, a goal oriented person asks more questions to understand himself better, whereas a directionless person keeps flowing without direction.
Stoicism is a wide philosophy. Like all philosophies, Stoicism’s purpose is to help people live their best life. Stoics like Marcus Aurelius and Seneca through their letters have transferred their philosophy to our generation (also Ryan Holiday).
Sharing with you these five questions that stoics suggest to ask ourselves in different phases of life to direct ourselves to growth path or bring back on track of consciousness.
1. What is enough?
You have to define your ENOUGH!. Seneca was one of the great stoic philosophers. He pushed himself and became the second richest person of Rome. At the end, what did you expect? He also died, like everyone else.
“If you don’t regard what you have as enough, you’ll never be happy even if you rule the entire world”Seneca
When you think about it this way– “whatever I have is good and everything else is extra..” everything else will then become a bonus and odds of an amazing life will be higher.
If we keep telling ourselves that “I will be satisfied if I get…..” or “I will feel better when….” It clearly shows you lack clarity about ENOUGH.
The reason we can’t define enough is because of greed inside us. Greed makes us feel to want more. Greed prevents joy and happiness in life.
2. Will anger get this better or worse?
Reaction with anger will create destruction.
This is the question we should ask ourselves when being angry at someone. More than others, anger impacts us.
One of the most famous Stoic slogans says that: Anger does us more harm than the things about which we’re angry. We make ourselves emotionally weak when we give in to anger, as philosophers used to say. It’s self-destructive. The consequences of our anger might harm others but we also harm ourselves.
Stoics have a remedy for this, whenever they feel anger they would ask themselves another question–”what would Socrates do in this situation?”. Another remedy was to delay this situation (anger).
3. Are you being good friend to yourself?
When we start to behave with ourselves the way we would with friends, we can live without stress. Because often we act harsh with ourselves.
For eg. If I didn’t completed a task today, I would say myself –“how stupid is that, you had lot of time, why did you wasted”…yes that’s how we treat ourselves sometimes.
When Seneca was talking about the progress he made as a human being, he said: “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.”
Which says, being a friend to himself was his progress, he didn’t include his richness and struggles. Be friend to yourself, act politely, talk calmly, forgive, scold sometimes.
4. Did you find one thing that made you better today?
Becoming a better person every day is one thing. But when you start to NOTICE it, at least reflecting if you are going in the right direction or not gets clear. (actually becoming good person or not)
Seneca in his letters suggests his friend Lucilius’ idea of acquiring one quote or one insight a day. Did you find one thing that made you better than the last day?
Most satisfying part is when science and philosophy intersect. For eg. In Atomic Habits, James Clear gave the idea of becoming 1% better each day by saying–
“If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.”
5. Why are you acting as if you will live forever?
Accepting truth only makes life more joyful. Ultimate truth is we all will die a day. But the truth is most of us are spending our moments as if we are immortals!!
“Don’t behave as if you are destined to live forever. What’s fated hangs over you. As long as you live and while you can, become good now”MARCUS AURELIUS
You have to decide your path, find answers to inner questions, give yourself a direction to reach your goals, to get to your dreams. You have a lot of work to finish before finally leaving your body peacefully, with no regrets. Comeon create a sense of urgency.
Questions are essential for growth, whether it’s internal or external. We must not be afraid of or keep us away from them, otherwise things will never change. So, push yourself to get answers to these stoic questions which they asked themselves in their tough times.
Stoicism is a very influential philosophy to give a read to all mentioned books above or at least read Daily Stoic it’s amazing book.
Questions bring clarity, clarity brings direction, direction brings goals and goals bring dreams.