The Stoics’ Best Advice for Finding Happiness in Hard Times

Amy Shearn
Published in
2 min readMar 15, 2021

Photo: happy8790/Getty Images

Medium writer Darius Foroux has a slightly spicy take in his recent Stoic Letter: One way to ease the unhappiness we’ve all been feeling for the past year is to reconsider what happiness even means.

Foroux quotes the Stoic philosopher Seneca: “No one can live happily, or even bearably, without the pursuit of wisdom.”

The Stoics believed that we shouldn’t hitch our sense of well-being to anything that can be taken away: wealth, health, tipsy karaoke nights. Those things are great, and of course, we all want them. But our true, life-level happiness must come from what can never be taken away, like wisdom, or working hard to be a truly good person. As Foroux puts it:

So, how can you live happily? According to the Stoics: Dedicate your life to the pursuit of wisdom. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the world. That’s not what wisdom is about. It’s about having meaning in your life.

It’s about waking up every day and getting excited about all the stuff you can learn that day. Isn’t that the most exciting thing in the world? You can literally learn about millions of things.

With so much outside our control, here’s one thing we can hold onto: the ability to be curious and to learn.

Amy Shearn

Formerly: Editor of Creators Hub, Human Parts // Ongoingly: Novelist, Essayist, Person