Why Stoicism?

If you’ve landed on this page you’re no doubt curious as to what a 2000 year old philosophy could possibly have to do with copywriting and content marketing. It’s a good question. A sensible question and has a lot to do with my personal story. 

Before we get into that, let’s go through a quick Stoicism 101:

What is Stoicism? 

When you think of someone who’s stoic, do you see a person who suppresses their emotions and doesn’t talk about their feelings? A robotic or flat personality might come to mind. This type of little ‘s’ stoicism is a character trait, a way of describing Joe and Karen Blogs down the road. It’s the furthest thing from the philosophy of Stoicism.

Stoicism is a philosophy that began in Greece around the 4th century BCE by a man called Zeno of Citium. Zeno was a merchant who was shipwrecked in Athens and lost all of his possessions. To find answers to his troubles he consulted an Oracle, who told him to take on the complexion of the dead. 

Having no idea what this meant, Zeno wandered until he found a bookshop and started reading Xenaphon’s Memorabilia, a book about Socrates. The book literally changed Zeno’s life. The Oracle had told him to take on the complexion of the dead and he interpreted it as listening to the wisdom of people who had come before. 

It inspired him to ask the bookseller where men like Socrates could be found and the seller pointed out a philosopher who happened to be passing by called Crates of Thebes. Zeno studied under Crates, learning about the philosophy of Cynicism and other schools until he was ready to strike out on his own.

That moment came in 300 BCE and Zeno started speaking in the Athenian marketplace and took up residence at the Stoa, or painted porch. The Stoa became the centre of Stoicism, a philosophy that taught to ‘live in accordance with nature.’ 

Zeno believed that living in accordance with nature meant being respectful of human nature, the environment, taking active steps to make a difference in society and living appropriately. He built Stoicism on four key pillars:

  1. Wisdom
  2. Justice
  3. Self-control/temperance
  4. Courage

His philosophy was taken up by other famous philosophers such as Cleanthes, Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. From pauper to peasant, slave to king, Stoicism inspired generations of thinkers and it’s as strong as it ever was in the modern era.

My Stoic story 

Uncertainty came up a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was looking for something to help me cope and on browsing the internet in another bout of manic stress buying, I came across a book called Lives Of The Stoics by Ryan Holiday.

It was a book about Zeno, about Cleanthes, about Marcus and many other people who’d come to Stoicism at times of great uncertainty and change. It all came down to the notion of being able to control what you can and can’t. Of accepting that you choose how you react to a situation. 

I chose to learn more about philosophy. I chose to apply it to my work as a copywriter, to be more thoughtful of how I walk through the world.

It was my Zeno shipwreck moment. It inspired me to set up on my own as a freelance content marketer and create Stoic Athenaeum, a creative space for combining content marketing and philosophy. A digital arena for freelancers to sharpen their knowledge and be inspired to find their own philosophy of life. 

Stoic resources to help you

Here’s a list of resources I’ve found helpful in my own journey through philosophy and I hope they can do the same for you.

Let’s chat about philosophy and content marketing 

I’d love to hear your own experiences with Stoicism or any other kind of philosophy. And if you need any copywriting support then feel free to check out the services I offer and get in touch today by emailing jamie@stoicathenaeum.com