What is stoicism? In what way self-mastery of desires and emotions help in achieving happiness? Is it always good to contain our desires and emotions? (150 W)

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The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding of the philosophy of stoicism . 

Answer:

Stoicismis a school of Hellenistic philosophy that flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics which is informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting that which we have been given in life, by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desire for pleasure or our fear of pain, by using our minds to understand the world around us and to do our part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others in a fair and just manner.

The goal of Stoicism is to attain inner peace by overcoming adversity, practicing self-control, being conscious of one’s impulses, realizing one’s ephemeral nature. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for human is found in accepting what we have been given in life; by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desire for pleasure or our fear of pain; by using our minds to understand the world around us and to do our part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others in a fair and just manner.

• The belief in stoicism helps one in endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. The basic principle of stoicism is self-mastery over one’s emotions.
• The mastery over emotions and desires help us in several ways. Emotions act as power so long as we use them towards positive ends or as positive means. Controlling emotions help us not to be overwhelmed in success and become arrogant or complacent. It helps us to understand and consciously put a break on negativities like anger, frustration and pessimism in failure.

Stoicism is relevant in modern society because, despite its ancient origins, it remains a worthwhile system of ethics, capable of guiding one’s actions quite well in the modern day, at least in my opinion. The short version is: A person who follows Stoic ethics well will tend towards being both happy and good for those around them—an ideal situation.

Is it always good to contain our desires and emotions?
Desire is a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. It is a conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment. It is the values in the desire which decide whether desire makes human achieve great heights or destroy their life. For instance it was the desire to help others made Mother Teresa an icon, the desire to gain fame and money can lead to people’s behaviour considering unethical and illegal ways to achieve their goal.

Emotion is a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. Passion for desire gives birth of emotion. Key emotions which impacts human behavior are love, joy, sorrow, bitterness, revenge. Aggression is one type of behavior that is tightly linked with our emotions.

It is common to think that emotions interfere with rational thinking. Plato described emotion and reason as two horses pulling us in opposite directions. Modern dual-systems models of judgment and decision-making are Platonic in the sense that they endorse the antagonism between reason and emotion.

Sometimes strong emotion creates desire to achieve one’s goals. For instance it is the emotional situation Abdul Kalam was in drove a desire in him to achieve something through hard work. When we align our desires with our emotions and the knowledge that we have into our goals, we then have the strength to fulfill our dream.

The experience of negative emotions and desires can help and hurt decision-making; it all depends on the context. Considered in isolation, sometimes emotions and desires are rather arational (neither rational nor irrational). If we can’t trust that emotions and desire will always steer us in the right direction, there is no way around a dispassionate calculation of potential gains and losses. This controlled, quantitative approach is most useful for decisions with clear, measurable outcomes.

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