After 4 years of studying, learning and practising Stoic philosophy and adapting it to current times, after everything I’ve experienced, I’d stick with the following 40 key principles to modern Stoicism.
1 – Expect to be wrong, hope to fail.
2 – Separate the facts from the impressions, the truth from the opinion and the certainty from the belief.
3 – Identify an appearance for just what it is, not the appearance you have formed in your mind.
4 – Devastation occurs when not considering something that could happen and that you did not want to admit.
5 – Plan to go through scarcity, suffering, grief, misfortune and despair.
6 – Admit and accept desire, hope, action and pleasure only when its source comes from the principles.
7 – The closer you are to being away from external emotions, the more powerful and peaceful you can live.
8 – Understand what advantages and disadvantages are beyond your control.
9 – Virtue, goodness and human excellence are the three divine acts of the soul, it responds only to them.
10 – Do not participate in any judgment except that which involves doing good.
11 – Test your character in times of crisis, tension and fear.
12 – Face fortune when it is in your favour, not against you.
13 – Train your spirit in good times.
14 – Do not ignore emotions and sensations, the total opposite, sit with them and get as deep as you can with them.
15 – It depends only on what emanates from you.
16 – Tolerate what you have for what you have. No more. no less.
17 – Want what you are, want what you own.
18 – If you have a set of values that guide your decisions and actions, then you have it all, you don’t need anything else.
19 – Being immune to external discomfort is the fruit of self-examination, and with it comes self-knowledge.
20 – Watch your movements before doing them, and also after.
21 – Don’t exchange things of great value (time) for things of low value (instant gratification; likes, checking social networks, email…)
22 – Avoid desire and aversion.
23 – Regulate and be coherent and eloquent with your impulses to act or not to act.
24 – Free yourself from all deception and judgment, internal or external.
25 – Let the intelligence of your soul be the one who intuits and decides something.
26 – Experiment with austerity.
27 – Confront everything you run away from or try to avoid.
28 – Limit your control to the things you can control — this is probably the key of the key principles to modern stoicism.
29 – Action and non-action will make you free, along with self-discipline.
30 – All discomfort is the result of a bad habit.
31 – Set yourself apart from common opinions as well as from the crowd – conventional wisdom is a delusion.
32 – Everything that is out of our control is determined, but our response (action-reaction) depends only on us.
33 – Virtue resides in our judgment, which makes the impulse appear and clarify all the appearances that give value to a desire.
34 – Assumptions will end up frustrating you.
35 – You think the opposite of what you should think.
36 – Keep your beliefs clean.
37 – Eliminate: arrogance, false opinions, presumptions and voracious passions.
38 – Practice self-preservation – care about others.
39 – Remove from your sight the things that you do not possess in your present, mainly, desire and fear.
40 – Forget the things that enter your present from outside, being pleasure and anguish, the primary elements.
Build your own key principles to modern Stoicism
“For it’s disgraceful for an old person, or one in sight of old age, to have only the knowledge carried in their notebooks. Zeno said this… what do you say? Cleanthes said that… what do you say? How long will you be compelled by the claims of another? Take charge and stake your own claim – something posterity will carry in its notebooks” – Séneca.
Your key principles to modern stoicism could vary in your case. However, and after discussing it with colleagues, other modern Stoics, and professors of philosophy, many of them could resonate with you. And who knows, maybe you can take advantage of this list that I have taken so long to record (Spanish language). But what a great time it has come together, when it should, at this moment.