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The Stoic Zeno of Kitium & his view of life

This article is about the Greek Stoic philosopher Zeno of Citium and his view of life. Zenon was born around 334 BC in the Mediterranean island city of Citium, which is now part of modern Cyprus.

Not much is known about his early life, but it is believed that as a young man he traveled throughout the Mediterranean before eventually settling in Athens, Greece. There he became interested in philosophy and founded his own school of thought, Stoicism. 

Zeno's view of life can be summarized in two main principles:

  1. That the best way to live is in harmony with nature and
  2. That the only things we can control are our own perceptions and actions.

Let's unpack this a little bit further.

In harmony with nature

When Zeno says that we should live in harmony with nature, he means that we should accept everything that happens around us without resistance and make the best of every situation. This does not mean that we should passively accept everything that happens to us - if something bad happens, we should still try to change it if we can. But when something bad happens that we can't change, Zeno says it's best to just accept it and move on. Here is a quote from Zeno that summarizes this idea well:

"It is not the events themselves that worry people, but their judgments about those events." - Zena from Citium

If we combine this with the following quote, we get a very powerful combination:

"Everything that happens is as it should happen, and if you observe carefully, you will realize that it is so." -Zenon of Kitium 

Zeno believed that we should never resist anything unfavorable and instead make the best of every situation. This can be difficult, but it is important to remember that everything happens for a reason. If we accept things as they are, we can better deal with them in a rational way.

"We can't say, 'If it hadn't rained, I would have gone for a walk.' The rain has nothing to do with it; you would have found something else to keep you inside." - Zeno of Citium 

This aspect of Stoicism is learning to be content with what we have. We should not dwell on what we could have been or what we do not have. Instead, we should be grateful for what we have and make the most of it - in other words, we should go with the nature of things.

Zenon's view on life can be difficult to follow, but it is also very rewarding. If we learn to accept things as they are and be content with what we have, we will be much happier people. These principles can help us to live a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

Our perceptions and actions are the only things we can control

Our perceptions and actions are the only things we can control - everything else is out of our hands. So if we want to live a peaceful life, it is important that we focus on the things that we can actually control, rather than worrying about things that are out of our control.

That doesn't mean we should completely ignore the rest of the world - we still need to care about what's going on around us. But instead of getting lost in all the negativity, Zenon says it's important to focus on the positive things we can do to make a difference.

Zeno believed that we can free ourselves from being controlled by our emotions if we understand and accept the bad things that happen to us. He believed that we should focus on our own actions and not worry about things we can't control.

One of Zeno's most famous quotes is: "We must not say: 'I am harmed', but: 'I suffer harm'. For instead of diminishing my happiness, it is enough if I change my mind about the external things that seem unfavorable to me." 

In other words: What happens to us is not nearly as important as how we react to it. If we keep a cool head and don't let our emotions get the better of us, we'll be much happier in life.

This does not mean that Stoics are emotionless robots. On the contrary, they believe that it is important to fully experience all of our emotions. But they also believe that we should not let them control us. We should be able to step back and dispassionately observe our emotions so that we can make rational decisions about how to respond to them.

Zenon's perspective on life offers a different way of looking at the world. Instead of getting lost in our emotions, we should focus on remaining calm and rational. In this way, we can better deal with difficult situations that we encounter. What do you think of Zenon's point of view? Do you think it has anything valuable to offer?

Final thoughts

In summary, Zeno of Citium was a Greek Stoic philosopher who believed that the best way to live is in harmony with nature and that the only things we can control are our own perceptions and actions. While some may see this view as passive or apathetic, I see it as a way to focus on peace and positivity despite all the negativity in the world. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 .

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