Having control over outcomes is one of the most comforting feelings for human beings. No wonder why authority and power are so appealing to humans: we can use them to do everything our way and see the consequences of our actions all the way through. 

On the other hand, uncertainty and lack of control can make us feel anxiousness, paranoia, inefficiency, and a plethora of other negative emotions. Even when we know we can’t do anything about something that is completely out of our control, we struggle to let go and to focus on what we can actually control. 

These are all reasons why we usually have difficulties when dealing with changing circumstances, especially if this change is associated with negative events like the current coronavirus pandemic and the chaos it is inflicting upon the world. It is in situations like these when we should get creative and experiment with resources that can make us thrive. Stoicism is one of these resources. 

Stoicism was created around 300 BCE in Athens by Zeno of Citium (an ancient Cypriot city). It was represented and practiced by remarkable historic figures such as the Roman thinker, writer, and intellectual Seneca, the Greek philosopher Epictetus, and the Roman Golden Age Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Entire libraries have been written about this fascinating school of thought. At a very large scale, it could be summarized as a way of thinking and acting based on the extreme acceptance of the outcomes we can’t control, and the exertion of maximum effort to get the most out of the results we can control.

Stoicism is a bulletproof, result-yielding way of thinking and acting in any setting. Its characteristics make it the perfect mindset to adopt in times of extraordinary uncertainty, like the ones we are currently navigating. 

Seneca stated that, “The wise man regards the reason for all his actions, but not the results.”

The core principle of Stoicism reflected in Seneca’s quote is also what makes it the secret to surviving special operations SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) scenarios. Stoic expert and bestselling author Ryan Holiday calls Stoicismthe unofficial philosophy of the military.” To illustrate this affirmation, Holiday shares the remarkable story of James Stockdale, whose life and toughness of mind are subjects of study and sources of inspiration.