The Daily Stoic for February 14th, “Think before you act”:
“For to be wise is only one thing—to fix our attention on our intelligence, which guides all things everywhere.”
—HERACLITUS, QUOTED IN DIOGENES LAERTIUS, LIVES OF THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS, 9.1
Think before you act. I don’t think there’s a sentence that describes stoicism in a more succint way. In fact, I think it works pretty well as a summary of the previous daily stoics, such as “Steady Your Impulses”, “Did it make you feel better” or “Anger Is A Bad Fuel”.
The Dilemma Of Emotions vs Reasoning
Since I started the daily stoic, I have certainly become more aware of my impulses and how to control them. After just a little more than 40 days, I can proudly say that something has already changed in how I react to everyday’s woes.
However, there’s still an open question about the whole Stoic philosophy in my mind.
As I mentioned on a previous daily stoic, we have a Google group to discuss everyday’s stoic. After yesterday’s “Pleasure Can Become Punishment”, there was a discussion on whether Stoicism implies disregarding emotions completely.
I personally think that emotions are part of what makes us humans. Disregarding them would be equivalent to becoming robots or machine learning algorithms.
Think Before You Act, But Feel Before You Think
Thus, I think we all need to be humans and have our feelings, emotional bursts and gut reactions.
In my opinion, Stoicism is not there to supress our feelings, but to let us know when we should let them flourish -i.e: positive, constructive feelings- and when we shouldn’t allow them to take over us.
In that view, Stoicism acts as a filter that we use to differentiate what can brings us joy or hapiness from what can only make us feel worse afterwards.
All in all, really looking forward to exploring Stoicism more in depth to know where it’s going to lead me.
As with all things in life, we should learn and experience them, and extract what we consider useful from them. Our reason, criticism and own judgement are important in the process.
In today’s Daily Stoic, “Think before you act”, I discuss my points of view on the relationship between Stoicism and our human emotions. For some people, it seems like stoics reject all kind of feelings.
I don’t think that’s accurate. Thinking before we act should not supress our feelings, but filter the good ones while preventing us to fall into the bad ones.