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Stoicism, a philosophy that originated in ancient Greece, is gaining popularity as a lifestyle choice in modern times. This philosophy teaches the importance of logic, self-control, and the pursuit of excellence towards a virtuous life. It emphasises the importance of accepting what is within our control and letting go of what is not. Stoicism has proven to be beneficial in dealing with life’s challenges, but it can be challenging to embrace as a lifestyle, especially for cancer patients.

Cancer patients face unique challenges that can make it difficult to embrace stoicism as a lifestyle. The diagnosis of cancer itself can be a traumatic experience, and the treatment journey can be long and challenging. The emotional toll of cancer can make it hard to adopt the stoic mindset, which emphasises the suppression of emotions.

According to a study by the American Cancer Society, cancer patients are at a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety than the general population. Depression and anxiety can affect a patient’s quality of life and make it difficult to adopt a stoic mindset. A stoic lifestyle requires the ability to control emotions and not let them overpower rational thinking. However, for cancer patients, this can be challenging, as emotions can be overwhelming and difficult to control.

Additionally, the treatment journey can be unpredictable, and cancer patients often have to face unexpected setbacks. This can make it hard to embrace the stoic mindset of accepting what is within our control and letting go of what is not. A study by the National Cancer Institute found that patients who have a positive outlook and a sense of control over their lives tend to cope better with the challenges of cancer treatment. However, cancer patients often face uncertainties that can make it hard to feel a sense of control over their lives.

Furthermore, cancer patients often have to rely on the support of others during their treatment journey. This can make it challenging to adopt the stoic mindset of self-reliance. Stoicism emphasises the importance of being self-sufficient and not relying on external factors for happiness. However, for cancer patients, relying on the support of others is necessary for their well-being. Cancer patients need the emotional and physical support of family and friends to help them through their treatment journey.

It is also worth noting that embracing stoicism as a lifestyle can be a challenge for anyone, not just cancer patients. According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, individuals who practice stoicism are more likely to experience lower levels of negative emotions and higher levels of well-being. However, the study also found that individuals who practised stoicism tended to have higher levels of negative emotions, such as anxiety and frustration. This suggests that while stoicism can be beneficial, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution and may not work for everyone. 

Why Stoicism is a Lifestyle Choice

Stoicism is a philosophy that has been around for centuries, but in recent years, it has gained significant popularity as a lifestyle choice. Its emphasis on self-control, rationality, and the pursuit of excellence towards a virtuous life has attracted people from all walks of life. However, embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle can be challenging, especially for those facing difficult circumstances, such as cancer patients.

One of the fundamental principles of Stoicism is the emphasis on living in accordance with nature. The Stoic lifestyle promotes self-discipline, inner strength, and a deep sense of purpose. Stoics believe that they should strive for a life with minimal pain and maximum pleasure, which is achieved by accepting things beyond their control while maintaining control over their responses.

In the face of adversity, such as a cancer diagnosis, living in accordance with nature can be particularly challenging. Cancer patients may feel like they have lost control over their bodies and their lives. They may experience pain, discomfort, and a range of difficult emotions. In this context, the Stoic principle of “Stoic tranquillity” can seem like an unattainable goal.

Despite the challenges, many cancer patients have found solace in Stoicism. The philosophy provides a framework for understanding and accepting difficult circumstances, and it offers practical tools for coping with them. For example, Stoic practices such as mindfulness, gratitude, and self-reflection can help cancer patients cultivate a sense of inner strength and resilience.

Moreover, research has shown that Stoic practices can have a positive impact on mental health. For example, a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy found that Stoic-based therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients with generalised anxiety disorder. Another study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that practising Stoicism was associated with greater life satisfaction and resilience.

However, despite the potential benefits, embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle choice is not without its challenges. For cancer patients, the journey towards Stoic tranquillity can be particularly difficult. The disease may cause physical pain and emotional turmoil, making it difficult to cultivate inner peace and acceptance. Moreover, the Stoic emphasis on self-control and rationality can sometimes seem at odds with the emotional intensity of a cancer diagnosis. the Stoic lifestyle is based on the belief that one should strive for a life with minimal pain and maximum pleasure by living in accordance with nature. For cancer patients, embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle choice can be challenging, but it offers a framework for understanding and accepting difficult circumstances, as well as practical tools for coping with them. While the Stoic emphasis on self-control and rationality may seem at odds with the emotional intensity of a cancer diagnosis, research suggests that Stoic practices can have a positive impact on mental health.

Stoicism as a Lifestyle: How it’s Challenging

Stoicism is not an easy path to follow, especially in today’s world where instant gratification and the pursuit of materialistic happiness have become a societal norm. Embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle can be challenging, especially for those who have always been driven by emotions and desires. However, despite its difficulty, it can also be rewarding, providing a deeper understanding of one’s self and the world around us.

One of the biggest challenges in embracing Stoicism is the struggle between reason and emotion. Robust emotions such as anger, fear, and grief are inherent in human nature and are often difficult to control. The Stoic philosophy demands that we remain objective in the face of these emotions and maintain control over our responses to them. However, this is easier said than done, and it takes time and effort to train our minds to react in a logical and rational manner.

Additionally, Stoicism calls for a significant shift in our perception of the world. It requires us to accept things without assumptions and to view the world through the lens of logic rather than emotion. This means letting go of the desire to control every aspect of our lives and accepting that some things are beyond our control. This can be particularly challenging for those who have always felt a need to be in control.

Moreover, accepting things as they are and finding tranquillity in the midst of suffering is perhaps the most significant challenge of Stoicism. For those facing a terminal illness like cancer, this can be an overwhelming challenge. The fear of death, the pain of treatments, and the uncertainty of the future can all create an immense emotional burden that can be difficult to reconcile with Stoic principles.

Research has shown that patients with cancer struggle with significant emotional distress, including anxiety and depression. A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that cancer patients have a higher incidence of depression compared to the general population, and this can continue even after treatment has ended. This emotional distress can make it challenging for cancer patients to adopt a Stoic perspective, which promotes detachment from emotions and a focus on the logic.

Furthermore, the idea of finding purpose in the face of illness can be challenging for cancer patients. Stoicism teaches that one should focus on the pursuit of excellence and living a virtuous life, but when facing a life-threatening illness, it can be challenging to find a sense of purpose. Patients may feel that their illness has robbed them of the ability to pursue their passions or achieve their goals. Additionally, cancer treatment can be physically exhausting and time-consuming, leaving little energy or time for other pursuits.

However, it’s essential to note that Stoicism can be adapted to suit individual circumstances. While the philosophy promotes detachment from emotions, it doesn’t mean that one should suppress or ignore their feelings entirely. Instead, Stoics recognise that emotions are a natural part of the human experience and that they should be acknowledged and addressed in a constructive way.

Moreover, the Stoic philosophy also emphasises the importance of community and social connections. Cancer patients can find support and encouragement from loved ones and healthcare professionals, which can provide a sense of purpose and meaning. Research has shown that social support can significantly impact a patient’s emotional well-being and quality of life.

The Perspective of a Cancer Patient on Embracing Stoicism

As a cancer patient, I find embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle a challenge, especially when dealing with chronic illnesses. This philosophy has helped me maintain inner peace and cope with the struggles that come with my illness, but it can also be overwhelming at times. To remain stoic, I have to continuously push against my physical limitations, which can be exhausting. Sometimes, I fall into a pit of despair as it feels like a constant fight without any end in sight.

One of the most significant challenges of embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle as a cancer patient is dealing with the limitations that come with the illness. Cancer is an unpredictable disease, and patients often experience a wide range of symptoms that can impact their physical and emotional well-being. While Stoicism teaches us to accept things beyond our control, it can be challenging to reconcile this with the physical limitations that cancer imposes on us. Patients are often advised to “fight” the disease, but what does this mean in the context of Stoicism?

Patients are encouraged to remain strong, and positive and to focus on the things that they can control, such as their thoughts and reactions. However, this can be easier said than done. Patients with cancer face the uncertainty of their prognosis and the side effects of treatment, which can be emotionally and physically draining. As a result, it can be challenging to maintain a positive mindset and remain Stoic throughout the treatment process.

Research has shown that cancer patients who practice Stoicism often report a greater sense of well-being and better coping mechanisms. A study published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship found that cancer survivors who practised Stoicism had a greater sense of inner peace and a lower risk of depression and anxiety compared to those who did not. Another study found that cancer patients who practised Stoicism had a more positive outlook on life and were better able to cope with the challenges of their illness.

However, embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle is not without its challenges. Patients often face conflicting emotions, and it can be difficult to reconcile these emotions with the Stoic principles of reason and logic. Stoicism teaches us to accept things as they are, without judgment, and to remain indifferent to the things that we cannot control. For patients dealing with chronic illness, this can be a difficult principle to follow.

Patients often feel a range of emotions, from anger and frustration to sadness and grief. While Stoicism teaches us to remain indifferent to these emotions, it can be challenging to do so when faced with the harsh reality of a cancer diagnosis. Patients may feel like they are fighting against themselves and their emotions when trying to embrace Stoicism as a lifestyle. It can be difficult to reconcile the desire to maintain a positive mindset with the reality of their situation.

One of the key challenges of embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle is the need for self-discipline. Stoicism teaches us to remain calm and rational in the face of adversity, but this can be difficult when dealing with chronic illness. Patients often face physical and emotional challenges that can make it difficult to remain calm and rational. Stoicism requires patients to exercise self-discipline, even when they are in pain or feeling overwhelmed. This can be a significant challenge for patients, especially when dealing with chronic illness.

Stoicism is a Lifestyle: It’s Not Easy

Stoicism is a way of life that demands significant effort and commitment. It’s not an easy path to follow, especially for individuals who are facing personal struggles, such as chronic illnesses like cancer. The philosophy of Stoicism is rooted in the belief that one should strive to maintain inner peace and control over their emotions. This control over one’s emotions can often be challenging, particularly when faced with trying situations. The following are some of the reasons why embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle is challenging:

  • The Pressure to Remain Composed: The stoic philosophy advocates for maintaining a rational and composed mind even in the face of adversity. However, this can be difficult for people, especially those who are undergoing treatment for cancer. The stress and anxiety that come with cancer treatment can be overwhelming, and it’s not easy to remain composed in such situations. Sometimes, the pressure to remain in control of one’s emotions can be too much to handle, leading to feelings of frustration and helplessness.
  • The Difficulty of Suppressing Emotions: Stoicism promotes the idea of keeping emotions under control, and this can be difficult for some people. Suppressing emotions can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from others. People may feel like they’re not allowed to express their emotions or that their emotions are not valid. Bottling up emotions can lead to the emotional turmoil that can be difficult to manage.
  • The Struggle to Maintain Rationality: One of the primary tenets of Stoicism is to maintain an objective and rational perspective on life. This means accepting things without any assumptions and viewing the world through the lens of logic rather than emotion. However, this can be difficult, especially when facing a difficult situation such as cancer. It’s not easy to keep an objective view of every aspect of life, and that alone can be stunningly challenging.
  • The Feeling of Fighting Against Limitations: For individuals who are undergoing treatment for cancer, there are physical limitations to contend with. To remain stoic, patients have to continuously push against these limitations, which can be exhausting. Sometimes, it often feels like a constant fight without any end in sight. This struggle can be overwhelming, leading to a sense of hopelessness.
  • The Need for Self-Discipline: Stoicism is a philosophy that demands self-discipline. It requires individuals to exercise self-control in all aspects of life. However, cancer treatment can make it challenging to maintain this discipline. Patients may experience fatigue and weakness, which can make it difficult to stick to routines or maintain good habits. The need for self-discipline can lead to feelings of guilt and frustration when patients are unable to keep up with the demands of Stoicism.
  • The Challenge of Being Misunderstood: Stoicism is a philosophy that’s not easy to understand, and this can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. Sometimes, people may interpret Stoicism as a lack of empathy or emotion. This can make it difficult for patients to express themselves and get the emotional support they need. Misunderstandings can lead to feelings of isolation, which can make the Stoic lifestyle even more challenging.

Overcoming the Challenges of Embracing Stoicism

Embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle can be a challenging task, especially for cancer patients who are already dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of their illness. However, overcoming these challenges is possible with self-reflection, self-discipline, and perseverance.

Stoicism is a philosophy that originated in ancient Greece and has been gaining popularity in recent years. It is a philosophy that emphasizes personal ethics and encourages individuals to focus on what is within their control, rather than getting caught up in external circumstances. According to Stoicism, individuals should strive to cultivate inner peace, emotional stability, and resilience in the face of adversity.

However, for cancer patients, embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle can be particularly challenging. Cancer is a serious illness that can cause physical pain, emotional distress, and significant disruptions to one’s daily life. Coping with cancer can be a full-time job, and adding the practice of Stoicism to the mix can seem overwhelming.

One effective strategy for overcoming this challenge is to break down goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. Aspiring to live according to Stoic principles does not mean one must embody them every moment of every day. Instead of focusing on embodying the philosophy every moment, individuals should set small goals and work on them consistently. Celebrating small wins along the way can help to build momentum and motivation.

Practising mindfulness, introspection, and meditation can also be beneficial for managing emotions and achieving Stoic tranquillity. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment and accepting it without judgment. It can help individuals to observe their thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them, leading to greater emotional regulation and inner peace.

Similarly, introspection involves reflecting on one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions, and identifying areas where growth and improvement are needed. By doing so, individuals can gain greater self-awareness and self-control. Meditation is another useful tool for cultivating inner peace and reducing emotional reactivity. It involves focusing on the breath or a specific object while observing thoughts and emotions without judgment. Meditation has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and can help individuals to achieve greater emotional stability and resilience.

Research has also shown that social support is crucial in helping individuals to overcome the challenges of embracing Stoicism. Having a community of like-minded individuals who share similar values and beliefs can provide a sense of belonging and validation, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. It can also provide opportunities for learning and growth, as individuals can share their experiences and strategies for overcoming challenges.

In addition to social support, seeking professional support can also be beneficial for individuals who are struggling to embrace Stoicism. Counselling or therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to explore their emotions, develop coping strategies, and work towards achieving greater emotional regulation and inner peace.

One study conducted by Jannell MacAulay and colleagues found that mindfulness and meditation practices can be effective in reducing stress and improving emotional regulation in military personnel. The study involved a randomized controlled trial in which participants were assigned to either a mindfulness meditation group, a progressive muscle relaxation group, or a wait-list control group. The mindfulness meditation group showed significant improvements in stress, emotional regulation, and quality of life compared to the other two groups.

Another study conducted by Jane L. Ferrari and colleagues found that social support can be a significant predictor of psychological adjustment in breast cancer survivors. The study involved a survey of 304 breast cancer survivors, who were asked to rate their level of social support and psychological adjustment. The study found that higher levels of social support were associated with better psychological adjustment, including lower levels of anxiety and depression.

The Stoic Lifestyle is Worth the Challenge

Despite the challenges that come with embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle, cancer patients and others who choose this path can attest to the many benefits it brings. Stoicism is not just a philosophical theory, but a way of life that helps individuals develop a calm and rational outlook, even in the midst of adversity. In this final section, we will explore the various reasons why the Stoic lifestyle is worth the challenge.

One of the main benefits of Stoicism is that it helps individuals focus on what they can control, rather than what they cannot. This is particularly important for cancer patients, who often face physical and emotional challenges that are beyond their control. By adopting a Stoic mindset, individuals can learn to accept what they cannot change and focus on taking action in areas where they can make a difference. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, Stoicism can help cancer patients improve their emotional well-being by reducing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness (Gonçalves et al., 2021).

Another benefit of Stoicism is that it helps individuals cultivate inner peace and resilience. By learning to control their emotions, individuals can reduce stress and anxiety and develop a greater sense of calm and tranquillity. Research has shown that mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help individuals cultivate emotional regulation and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety (Hofmann et al., 2010). Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that Stoic philosophy can help individuals increase their life satisfaction and happiness (Campion et al., 2018).

Stoicism also encourages individuals to live a virtuous life, characterized by qualities such as wisdom, courage, justice, and compassion. By striving to embody these virtues, individuals can develop a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life. According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, individuals who pursue a meaningful life tend to experience greater well-being and life satisfaction (Steger et al., 2009).

Another advantage of the Stoic lifestyle is that it helps individuals develop a more rational and objective outlook on life. By avoiding the pitfalls of emotional reasoning and cognitive biases, individuals can make better decisions and avoid unnecessary suffering. According to a study published in the journal Emotion, individuals who engage in reappraisal, a cognitive strategy often used in Stoicism, tend to experience less negative emotion and greater well-being (Gross & John, 2003).

While embracing Stoicism as a lifestyle can be challenging, cancer patients and others who choose this path can attest to its many benefits. Through self-reflection, self-discipline, and perseverance, individuals can develop a greater sense of calm, resilience, and purpose in life. By focusing on what they can control, cultivating inner peace, embodying virtues, and developing a rational outlook, individuals can lead fulfilling and virtuous life, even in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, the Stoic lifestyle is worth the challenge. Cancer patients and others who embrace this way of life can attest to its many benefits, including improved emotional well-being, greater resilience, and more meaningful life. While it requires patience, self-discipline, and consistent effort, the rewards are well worth the journey. By focusing on what they can control, cultivating inner peace, embodying virtues, and developing a rational outlook, individuals can lead fulfilling and virtuous life, even in the midst of adversity.

 

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