Origins – Zeno and the front porch

Centuries ago, in ancient Greece, the philosopher Zeno lectured on a topic that still piques the human mind, to wit: ‘How to Live a Happy Life’. Zeno would stand on a porch (the Greek word for which is stoa) and hold forth somewhat as follows: People should free themselves from intense emotion, be unmoved by both joy and sorrow, and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity.
Today, psychologists suggest pretty much the exact opposite – let your emotions flow freely, express your love or animosity, don’t bottle up your feelings. But in the fourth century B.C.,when Zeno was expounding his credo, his philosophy of control of the passions fell on receptive ears. His followers were called Stoics, after the stoa, or porch, from which the master lectured.
If we call people stoical, we mean that they bear their pain or sorrow without complaint, they meet adversity with unflinching fortitude. This sounds very noble, you will admit – actually, according to modern psychological belief, it is healthier not to be so stoical. Stoicism may be an admirable virtue (mainly because we do not then have to listen to the stoic’s troubles), but it can be overdone.
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