how to make a good life

How to Make a Good Life — According to Ancient Stoic Wisdom

Existence and living a full life are two distinct concepts.

Existing simply means being alive, while living a full life means experiencing a range of emotions, pursuing interests, forming meaningful connections with others, and finding purpose and fulfillment in daily experiences.

Many people may go through life simply existing, going through the motions without actively engaging with the world around them.

Mere existence can easily lead to dissatisfaction, boredom, and existential meaninglessness.

Cristina Marrero was right when she said, “Better to have lived in truth and discovered life than to have lived half-heartedly and died long before you ever ceased breathing.”

Living a full life means taking risks, stepping outside of your usual zone, and actively pursuing your interests and everything that makes you come alive.

It requires a willingness to embrace the unpredictability of life.

At the same time, living a whole life does not necessarily mean constantly seeking new experiences or achieving a certain level of success.

It’s about finding a sense of purpose and meaning that resonates with one’s values and personal aspirations.

Half a life is not good enough

“Spending the rest of your days living half a life is hard,” says Eric Worre.

So, make a life.

Identifying your values and beliefs is the first step to making a good life.

What is important to you? What do you stand for? What part of you have you neglected but still means a lot to you?

Once you clearly understand what you need (no matter how small), you can start taking actionable steps that align with them.

That means doing more for your career, relationships, health, and personal growth to bring out the best in you.

By intentionally creating a life that aligns with your values and aspirations, you can experience a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and joy.

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Stoic wisdom in a nutshell

“A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking,” says Taleb Nassim Nicholas.

According to Stoic teachings, the key to a good life is not wealth, fame, or external circumstances but cultivating inner virtues such as wisdom, courage, and self-control.

The wise man is he who is sufficient unto himself,” says Seneca.

By focusing on developing stoic qualities, we can learn to navigate the challenges of life with grace and resilience.

“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile,” says Plato.

To make a life, one must first understand that everything is transient and impermanent. Nothing lasts forever; therefore, we must focus on what we can control and let go of what we cannot.

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens,” Epictetus said.

This is a reminder that we should not be attached to external outcomes or circumstances but instead focus on our inner state of being.

Epictetus says your happiness depends on it.

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.”

We must cultivate a mindset of acceptance and calmness, recognizing that no life is linear (adversity and obstacles are guaranteed) and that we cannot control everything.

“The impediment to action, invites action. The obstacle in the way, becomes the way.” Marcus Aurelius said.

One of the most essential principles of Stoicism is accepting what is outside of our control and focusing our energy on what we can influence.

That means letting go of the past, embracing the present moment, and planning for the future without becoming attached to specific outcomes.

It’s a better approach to avoid the anxiety and frustration of trying to control things beyond our grasp.

Seneca argues, “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”

Stoics also stress living a virtuous life.

According to the Stoics, virtues are the key to a fulfilling and meaningful life.

They believed virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice, and self-control were essential for living a good life.

To cultivate these virtues, one must practice them daily through small actions and decisions.

For example, you can practice self-control by resisting the urge to indulge in unhealthy habits or practice courage by facing your fears.

According to Stoic wisdom, we must live in harmony with nature.

We must recognize that we are not separate from nature but a part of it and that our actions have consequences.

Marcus Aurelius observed that “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”

When we live in harmony with nature, we can find a sense of peace and purpose in life.

Another powerful Stoic practice is to reflect on our mortality, recognizing that our time on earth is limited and that we should make the most of every day.

It can help us to prioritize what is truly important and to let go of distractions and trivial concerns.

Stoic philosophy also stresses universal interconnectedness.

We are all part of a greater whole, and our actions can have ripple effects worldwide.

Living in harmony with nature and our fellow human beings can contribute to the greater good and find meaning in our existence.

The Stoics believed in the power of reason and logic.

The value of using our minds to understand ourselves and the world around us cannot be overemphasized. Be open to lifelong learning, questioning personal assumptions, and seeking new experiences.

Ultimately, the goal of Stoic philosophy is not to eliminate all suffering or achieve a state of constant happiness but rather to live on purpose.

In the end, half a life is not good enough. We owe it to ourselves to live a full and rich life with experiences, love, and joy.

We should never settle for less than we deserve and always strive for a meaningful existence. So, let’s live our lives with purpose and intention and make every day a separate life.

This article originally appeared in Medium.