Stoicism and Surviving Our Age of Volatility

Advice from the quiet past, relevant to our stormy present.

Steven Yates
8 min readFeb 3, 2023


Photo by Bruno Aguirre on Unsplash

Stoicism reduces to a few suggestions: easy to write, difficult to practice.

(1) Determine to be calm. (2) Observe what is happening around you. (3) Focus on what you can control. (4) Do the right thing.

“The first rule,” advises Marcus Aurelius, “is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”

The challenge, of course, is that the second often makes the first hard to do.

Epictetus, though, reminds us, “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things.”

It’s not about not having emotions, or approaching the world emotionlessly, like a robot. It’s about keeping your emotions in check, so that you’ll be more apt to pause long enough to distinguish what you can control from what you can’t.

Zeno of Citium, Stoicism’s founder, told us, “Man conquers the world by conquering himself.”

Remember to distinguish your world from the world. The world may be a mess. But your world doesn’t have to be.



Steven Yates

I am the author of What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory. I write about philosophy (especially the Stoics), health and systems, and the future if we have one.