The Daily Stoic for August 27th, “Laugh Or Cry?”.
“Heraclitus would shed tears whenever he went out in public—Democritus laughed. One saw the whole as a parade of miseries, the other of follies. And so, we should take a lighter view of things and bear them with an easy spirit, for it is more human to laugh at life than to lament it.”
—SENECA, ON TRANQUILITY OF MIND, 15.2
There are two things I can’t really relate to in today’s Stoic.
The first is the apparent mismatch between Stoic teachings sometimes, especially related to the dichotomy “Stoics avoid feelings altogether” and “Stoics try to always look at the bright side of life”.
The second relates to whether this last approach turns into a denial of reality.
Laugh Or Cry?
Some stoic excerpts from the book seem to focus on how Stoics purposedly avoid seeing things as evil or good. However, that might sound too harsh for our current society. You know, everything has to be positive, beautiful and inspiring these days. That does not match with this “I refuse to tag things as bad but also as good either”.
So sometimes stoics are depicted as positive, half-full glass kind of guys, like in today’s stoic:
“Even when things were really bad, when the world made them want to weep in despair or rage, they chose to laugh about it.”
And that leads me to my second problem with today’s stoic. I wonder whether laughing when things go really wrong is really good advice. I mean, obviously, entering into depression-mode, complaining about your miserable life, or locking yourself into a room, waiting to die is not the solution. But somehow, if you have a problem, denying reality and laughing at things sounds to me more like what a lunatic will do.
In those situations, I think it’s better to take action. Do not cry or laugh, just start working out things to get out of that situation.
I still can see myself laughing at the problems in my life. Perhaps I’ll never be a good stoic?
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Laugh Or Cry?” didn’t really resonate with me. I think laughing at problems is similar to crying at them. The solution is not denying reality, but doing something to change it.