How Stoicism Can Improve Your Mental Health
Without even knowing you, I can tell that you want to improve your mental health and live a much happier life than you are right now.
Perhaps you want to get rid of anxiety, depression, or anything else that’s preventing you from living the life you deserve. Or maybe, you feel lost and don’t know how to get back on the right path towards a better future.
You’ve read a lot of articles, watched loads of self-help videos, and are kept awake at night by the thought of not being able to live a happier life. Deep down, you know that something in your life needs to change. But the only problem is that you don’t know where to start.
Listen, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve found myself in the same position as you many times. But I’ve learned that the best way to improve your mental health is by improving your mindset. The Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, said it best:
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
So below are several ways that you can use stoicism to improve your mental health. Each of these insights helped me to eliminate anxiety and improve my mental health. I’m sure they will do the same for you, too.
Choose Your Attitude.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl
Unfortunately, you often cannot control what happens to you. But over the past few years, I’ve learned that you can always choose your attitude and how you respond to any given set of circumstances.
For example, I accept that I cannot control what other people do or say. However, I can always try my best to treat them with kindness and respect, hoping that they will reciprocate.
Similarly, you cannot change the fact that you’ll occasionally get stuck in traffic during your commute to work. But instead of complaining, a better solution is to listen to an audiobook or do something that’s reasonably productive.
You get the idea. When you take a moment to accept everything you can’t change in life, it’s much easier to focus your mental energy solely on what you can.
Practice Gratitude Every Day.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus
I love that quote so much. Because when you spend your days being grateful for everything you can do, you’ll naturally spend a lot less time thinking about what you can’t.
For example, I’m a little annoyed at the concept of having to quarantine for 14 days, as I recently arrived back in Canada. But instead of wishing for things to be different, I’m trying to make the most of it by using the extra time indoors to get loads of work done and catch up on my favorite TV shows.
The Stoics called this concept “Amor Fati” (a love of fate). Because when you practice gratitude for everything that happens, it’s certainly much easier to live an incredibly happy life.
Live In The Present Moment.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but rather he should fear never beginning to live.” — Marcus Aurelius
For the longest time, I was terrified of death. My fear kept me awake at night, increased my anxiety, and prevented me from living a happy life. But here’s the thing: death is inevitable. So if worrying about it won’t change the outcome, what’s the point?
There is none. So instead, I’ve found that it’s much better to live in the present moment and enjoy each day as it comes.
Sure, it’s normal to worry about the future. I don’t blame you for feeling anxious about what may or may not be around the corner. But whenever you find yourself overthinking, take a moment to refocus your attention on what you can do right now, in the present moment, to live a happier life.
“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” — Marcus Aurelius
Like you, I want to improve my mental health and live each day with a sense of optimism. So when I began applying these strategies to my life, my anxiety and depression faded away.
It’s important to remember that your mental health isn’t going to go from zero to one hundred overnight. That’s unrealistic as it takes time. But once you apply stoicism to your mindset, you’ll notice that you’ll feel a lot happier each day. So what are you waiting for?