Stoicism Vs. the Nay-Sayers and Doomers-Gloomers

They miss the biggest threat to civilized living, and so can’t see the way out.

Steven Yates
14 min readFeb 18, 2022


Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

There are numerous writers on Medium I call doomers-gloomers. I won’t name names. I’ve no desire to embarrass anyone, or start a pointless war of words. You’ve surely seen them, though. Maybe you read them regularly — although I’ve had to unfollow all but a couple. Most publish far more often than I do. Some post material every day! I recently figured out why. It’s because it’s much easier to write negativity than it is positivity. Going on and on about how awful things are both feels good and is far easier than figuring out and suggesting realistic solutions.

And so we get tons of: civilization is collapsing. That’s if climate change doesn’t get us first. Inequality is worse than ever. Inflation will drive us all into the poorhouse. Russians lurk behind every tree. (Or is it Trump-supporters, or these days, Canadian truckers. Damn, I’m losing track.) Nukes still poised, and on multiple continents.

Then there’s Captain Covid. Everywhere, isn’t he? And in more than one variant.

Did I miss anything? Yeah, one thing. Something big I’ll come back to that we ought to be paying attention to, but most such writers aren’t. It’s the biggest threat of all, probably behind most if not all the others, and the doomers/gloomers ridicule the idea!

I’ve been cultivating a Stoic mindset and Stoic attitudes in here. What do the great Stoics counsel, regarding events and situations small or medium sized or very large?

Epictetus counseled (as we have seen) making that all-important distinction between what you can control and what you can’t control.

You can’t control events and situations. But you can control your responses to events and situations.

Some may say Epictetus went a little overboard, adding that what you can’t control “is nothing to us.”

Fair enough.

Because shit happens, and it hurts! You get laid off. You get in an automobile wreck and maybe injured. You get sick. Or maybe your child gets sick. Maybe Captain Covid pays you a visit.



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.