9 Stoic Exercises That Align with Christian Values

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Stoicism is a philosophical school of thought that originated in Athens, Greece, around 300 B.C. It teaches that the key to happiness and fulfillment is to live in accordance with nature, to focus on the things we can control and accept those we cannot. Many of the principles of Stoicism are in alignment with Christian values, such as self-control, humility, and treating others with kindness and compassion. In this article, we will explore nine Stoic exercises that can help Christians live a more fulfilling life.

Table of Contents

What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is a philosophy that teaches individuals to focus on the things they can control and accept those they cannot. It is centered around the idea that we should live in accordance with nature and seek to cultivate virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice, and self-control. The goal of Stoicism is to live a life of virtue and inner peace, regardless of external circumstances.

The Intersection of Stoicism and Christianity

Although Stoicism is not a religion, many of its principles align with Christian values. Both Stoicism and Christianity teach individuals to lead a virtuous life, to be kind and compassionate towards others, and to focus on things that matter. In fact, several prominent Christian thinkers, such as Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas, were heavily influenced by Stoic philosophy.

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Exercise #1: Contemplating Your Own Mortality (Meditation on Death)

Contemplating your own mortality involves reflecting on the fact that death is inevitable and that our time on earth is limited. This exercise can help individuals appreciate the present moment, live a life of purpose, and prioritize what truly matters in life.

For example, one might take some time each day to reflect on the fact that their time on earth is limited and that they should make the most of each day. They might also reflect on their values and priorities, and think about how they can make a positive impact on the world.

Stoic Quote: “Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” – Seneca

Bible Verse: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

By reflecting on the fact that our time on earth is limited, we can develop a deeper appreciation for life and focus on the things that truly matter. The quote by Seneca reminds us to make the most of each day, while the Bible verse from Psalm 90 reminds us to use our time wisely.

Exercise #2: The Dichotomy of Control

The dichotomy of control involves recognizing that there are some things we can control and others that we cannot. It can help individuals develop a sense of inner peace and acceptance, and focus their energy on things that truly matter.

For example, if someone is dealing with a difficult situation, they might focus on the things they can control, such as their own actions and reactions, rather than worrying about things they cannot control, such as the actions of others.

Stoic Quote: “Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.” – Epictetus

Bible Verse: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33

By focusing on what we can control and letting go of what we cannot control, we can cultivate a sense of inner peace and resilience. The quote by Epictetus reminds us to focus on our own thoughts, actions, and reactions, while the Bible verse from Matthew 6 reminds us to seek first the kingdom of God.

Exercise #3: The View from Above

The view from above involves imagining oneself as a small part of the larger universe and seeing things from a broader perspective. It can help individuals develop a sense of humility and gratitude, and appreciate the interconnectedness of all things.

For example, one might take some time each day to reflect on the vastness of the universe and their place in it. They might also think about the ways in which they are connected to other people and the world around them, and express gratitude for those connections.

Stoic Quote: “Keep constantly in mind in how many things you yourself have witnessed changes already. The universe is change, life is judgement.” – Marcus Aurelius

Bible Verse: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” – Psalm 19:1

By taking a step back and seeing things from a broader perspective, we can appreciate the beauty and interconnectedness of all things. The quote by Marcus Aurelius reminds us to appreciate the changes and impermanence of life, while the Bible verse from Psalm 19 reminds us to appreciate the beauty of the world around us.

Exercise #4: Negative Visualization

Negative visualization involves imagining worst-case scenarios and preparing oneself mentally for them. It can help individuals develop a sense of resilience and gratitude for what they have, and prevent them from taking things for granted.

For example, one might take some time each day to imagine what life would be like without certain things they currently have, such as their health, their loved ones, or their possessions. By doing so, they can develop a sense of gratitude for what they have and prepare themselves mentally for difficult situations.

Stoic Quote: “The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.” – Marcus Aurelius

Bible Verse: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – 1 Peter 5:8

By preparing ourselves mentally for difficult situations, we can develop a sense of resilience and adaptability. The quote by Marcus Aurelius reminds us to embrace the challenges of life, while the Bible verse from 1 Peter 5 reminds us to be vigilant and on guard against the challenges and difficulties of life.

Exercise #5: Practicing Virtue

Practicing virtue involves striving to cultivate virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice, and self-control, and living a life of moral excellence. It can help individuals lead a life of purpose and meaning, and be a positive influence on those around them.

For example, one might focus on developing a particular virtue, such as kindness or courage, and practice it in their daily life. They might also reflect on how they can use their virtues to make a positive impact on the world.

Stoic Quote: “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” – Epictetus

Bible Verse: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

By focusing on cultivating virtues such as kindness, courage, and self-control, we can become the kind of person we want to be. The quote by Epictetus reminds us to focus on our character, while the Bible verse from Philippians 4 reminds us to focus on things that are true, honest, just, and pure.

Exercise #6: Amor Fati

Amor fati, or “love of fate,” involves accepting and embracing whatever happens in life, and seeing it as an opportunity for growth and learning. It can help individuals develop a sense of inner peace and resilience, and see challenges as opportunities for spiritual growth.

For example, one might focus on accepting whatever happens in their life, whether it is positive or negative, and seeing it as an opportunity for growth and learning. They might also reflect on how they can use their experiences to become a better person.

Stoic Quote: “The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius

Bible Verse: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

By embracing the challenges and difficulties of life, we can develop a sense of resilience and adaptability. The quote by Marcus Aurelius reminds us to see difficulties as opportunities for growth, while the Bible verse from Romans 8 reminds us to have faith that everything will ultimately work out for good.

Exercise #7: Self-Reflection (The Evening Examination)

Self-reflection, specifically the evening examination, involves reflecting on one’s actions and thoughts throughout the day, and identifying areas for improvement. It can help individuals develop self-awareness and humility, and strive to become a better person each day.

For example, one might take some time each evening to reflect on their actions and thoughts throughout the day. They might think about what went well, what didn’t go well, and what they can do differently in the future. They might also identify areas where they can improve, such as being more patient or kind to others.

Stoic Quote: “It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.” – Seneca

Bible Verse: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5

By reflecting on our lives each day, we can make sure that we are using our time wisely and living in accordance with our values. The quote by Seneca reminds us to live each day to the fullest, while the Bible verse from 2 Corinthians 13 reminds us to examine ourselves and make sure that we are living in accordance with our faith.

Exercise #8: The Inner Citadel

The inner citadel involves developing a strong sense of inner resilience and strength, and not allowing external circumstances to affect one’s inner state. It can help individuals develop a sense of inner peace and strength, and be a positive influence on those around them.

For example, one might focus on developing their inner strength and resilience through practices such as meditation or prayer. They might also focus on maintaining a positive attitude and not allowing external circumstances to affect their inner state.

Stoic Quote: “He who fears death will never do anything worth of a man who is alive.” – Seneca

Bible Verse: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

By developing inner strength and resilience, we can navigate the challenges of life with grace and dignity. The quote by Seneca reminds us not to fear death, while the Bible verse from Galatians 5 reminds us to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Exercise #9: The Discipline of Action

The discipline of action involves taking action and living a life of purpose and meaning, rather than being passive or reactive. It can help individuals develop a sense of urgency and purpose, and make a positive impact on the world.

For example, one might focus on taking action towards their goals and living a life of purpose and meaning. They might also think about how they can use their skills and talents to make a positive impact on the world.

Stoic Quote: “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” – Marcus Aurelius

Bible Verse: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” – James 1:22

By taking action towards our goals and living a life of purpose and meaning, we can make a positive impact on the world. The quote by Marcus Aurelius reminds us to make the most of each day, while the Bible verse from James 1 reminds us that faith without action is meaningless.

Conclusion

Incorporating these Stoic exercises into one’s daily life can help Christians live a more fulfilling life that is aligned with their values. By focusing on what truly matters, developing inner strength and resilience, and striving to become a better person each day, Christians can lead a life of purpose and meaning that is in line with their faith.

This concludes our training for today. In the battle for a better life? We invite you to advance your personal development and financial literacy education by subscribing to Battle Call Academy. Get access to resources that will help you elevate your financial IQ, enhance internal / external communication skills, and create a prosperous outlook.

Until next time: God bless, stay positive, and be true to you.

FAQs

What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is a philosophical school of thought that teaches individuals to focus on the things they can control and accept those they cannot, and to live in accordance with nature.

What are some of the core tenets of Christianity?

Some of the core tenets of Christianity include loving thy neighbor as thyself, treating others with kindness and compassion, and living a virtuous life.

How can Stoicism help Christians in their daily lives?

Stoicism can help Christians develop a stronger sense of inner peace, resilience, and purpose, and lead a more fulfilling life.

Can someone practice Stoicism and be a Christian at the same time?

Yes, someone can practice Stoicism and be a Christian at the same time, as many of the principles of Stoicism align with Christian values.

How can I start incorporating Stoic exercises into my daily routine?

You can start incorporating Stoic exercises into your daily routine by starting small and gradually building up, and by finding exercises that resonate with you and align with your values.

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