Fitness and stoicism
Good to have you folks back. Now that the ‘teens have come to an end, let’s start the year with some insight on how one can adapt or transition into a lifestyle which has a set of guidelines on better living, however, there is no fixed agenda. You evolve with experience and something called reflective equilibrium. I am talking about stoicism ladies and gents, and how fitness and stoicism are alike in many ways. Allow me to expand.
Stoicism is a way of life. A stoic is someone who believes in virtue and reason and endures pain and suffering for a better tomorrow vs an epicurean whose principle governance is pleasure. Epicureans avoid the natural course of nature and believe everything in life is derived from pleasure. These two fundamental differences define the objective of these disciplines. As illustrated, the stoic approach relates to leading a life governed by reason and logic which in turn makes you a virtuous and better human being.
So, as established, the stoic approach leads to better living. How fitness as a discipline and stoicism are similar, is the bone of contention today.
The stoics practise 4 codes called the quarter-set of cardinal virtues.
- Courage or fortitude
Let’s compare these with the athletic lifestyle
Prudence or Wisdom- The Greek philosophy speaks about Prudence as having knowledge between good and bad. The ability to make decisions based on a set of beliefs backed by knowledge which ultimately leads to a universally desired outcome. When you commit to a discipline like fitness, you are making a decision on the basis of knowledge that this particular activity when done consistently will lead to physical and mental harmony. This will ultimately result in a productive and meaningful life in the long run. You endure physical pain and sacrifice for a better tomorrow and the pursuit is governed by nature itself.
Temperance or moderation- Anything in excess is bad for you. We must be self-aware, self-conscious of not being overindulgent in action or thought and do things in moderation. This attribute moderates attraction to pleasure. Similarly in athleticism, you practice moderation. You train your body and mind to overcome temptation leading to immediate pleasures coming from food and physical comfort and live in moderation and manage all aspects of life. Overindulgence in one area of life will have a ripple effect on everything else. Sure you can have a chocolate cake one day and skip your physical activity, however, as long as you are in control of temptations, you are bound to become the best version of yourself.
Courage- This virtue needs no explanation. Whether it’s life or the sweat room, you must believe in pushing yourself beyond your capacity to ensure growth. And for this you need to be courageous. You must endure the pain and discomfort which in turn will encourage you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. This can only be accomplished by building the virtue of fortitude.
Justice- Your moral code as an individual governs your decision making process and impacts your life along with others. We must do what we are here to do and do it correctly to ensure it results in the common good. You must be in good shape both physically and mentally to ensure clarity of thought leading to better decision making. Yes, you must have the knowledge as well,however, physical and mental chemistry together, are the foundation and all things, good and bad are derived from this foundation. So, in order to do what is right and for the common good, you must be in good physical shape first and that is achieved by way of physical indulgence.
All these code of ethics are interdependent and are collectively required to build the stoic way of life. So, your adaptation of a consistent physical discipline sets course to building a stoic, or in other words, a better and more productive way of life. We must do what’s in our control and not worry about the future or let the past control our thoughts. As they say in the Zen teachings, Eat when hungry, sleep when tired.
“If death is going to be here for me tomorrow and its lunch time now, I rather focus on now and eat my cake”
Let me leave you with a powerful quote by one of the greatest emperors of Rome who was also an avid stoic-Marcus Aurelius
“We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne”
We lift, therefore we are!
Have a great 2020!