The Flourishing Stoic: Inspiring Food For Thought That Helps You With Your Stoic Practice. Send it to me!

Resilient person

What do you need to build resilience?

Resilience is a real superpower, enabling us to go straight through life's inevitable storms. While we might get shaken like a ping-pong ball and jolted like a roller coaster, we never break. No, with enough resilience, we bounce back, stronger than before. The good news is that Stoicism can help develop this superpower, and anyone can do it. Of course, there's a caveat. As average Janes and Joes, we can't develop superpowers overnight. We need dedication and a lot of practice to become more resilient. Fate permitting, here's what helps you!


  • Cultivating resilience is a skill everyone who is willing to put in the necessary effort can learn
  • Stoicism offers actionable practices to create resilience.
  • Understanding, managing, and getting meaning out of events help to respond with resilience.
  • The 4 keys of resilience are connection, wellness, meaning, and healthy thinking.

What is Resilience? A Definition.

First things first, let's understand what resilience is. Resilience is the ability to cope mentally and emotionally with complex and challenging situations. One is resilient when one can deal with adversities and significantly stressful situations and bounce back quickly to a stable condition of the mind. It's not only about overcoming struggles or hardships, but resilience allows someone to rebound with a strengthened character.1

When an event is seen as understandable (predictable)manageable (controllable), and somehow meaningful (explainable), it increases the chances of a resilient response.2 That's important; we'll come back to these things in a minute!

One thing to add. It doesn't mean a resilient person doesn't feel distressed or never experiences any difficulties. Indeed, we can consider emotional stress as the necessary weight to strengthen the resilience "muscle". The difference lies in the coping strategies.

The 4 Key Components of Resilience

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience has four key elements.3

  1. Connection: Invest in strong and healthy relationships with empathetic people. Ask for and accept help when offered. Join groups with similar interests to find like-minded people. That could help to find support and a sense of purpose.
  2. Wellness: Engage in physical exercises, take care of your sleep, and eat healthy to reduce your stress level. You can also practice mindfulness, like meditation, journaling, mindful walking, or any other kind of spiritual practice.
  3. Meaning: Develop problem-solving skills, help others, act proactively (don't just react). Go on a journey of self-discovery to find your purpose and get to know yourself. Then, set goals that payoff to your purpose and strive for growth in this area of your life.
  4. Healthy Thinking: Accept that change is inevitable and keep everything in perspective. Establish balanced and realistic thinking patterns. Cultivating a neutral thinking mindset can also help keep your thoughts away from overly negative thinking patterns.

How to Become More Resilient With Stoicism

While Stoicism is about flourishing and eudaimonia, building resilience is one valuable skill on that path. A Stoic learns to deal with life's uncertainties and personal challenges like insultsjealousy in relationships, or even death. In short, Stoics learn to deal with all kinds of adversities and obstacles on the long path to happiness. Consequently, most of the Stoic practices contribute in some way to cultivating resilience.

But how can you become more resilient and strengthen your character against life's adversities? Let's explore the Stoic way!

9 Practical Ways to Become More Resilient

Can you remember the important sentence from above? When an event is understandable (predictable)manageable (controllable), and meaningful (explainable), a resilient response is more likely. So, how do we practice this? Here we go.


What can you do to make disliked events understandable or at least predictable?

1. Practice negative visualization

Component: Healthy Thinking

"Everyone approaches courageously a danger which he has prepared himself to meet long before, and withstands even hardships if he has previously practised how to meet them. But, contrariwise, the unprepared are panic-stricken even at the most trifling things." Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, On Obedience to the Universal Will, 4

Negative visualization is the pre-meditation of adversities. You simply think about worst-case scenarios to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Knowing and feeling what could happen enables you to develop counter-strategies to make them less likely; you improve your problem-solving skills.

2. Embrace change

Component: Healthy Thinking

"Look round at the courses of the stars, as if you were going along with them, and constantly consider the changes of the elements into one another, for such thoughts purge away the filth of earthly life." Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.47

Intellectually, we all know that change is the only constant in life. Yet, somehow, we're surprised when change hits us. Keep always in mind that things will change and that every change brings opportunities with it. Sit down for a moment and think about everything that changed during your lifetime. Looking back now, has it been that horrible? Have you learned something from past periods of change?


That's my favorite because it's a key lesson of Stoicism to focus on things we can control.

3. Learn to control what you can

Component: Meaning, Healthy Thinking

"Things not dependent on my own will are nothing to me."  Epictetus, Discourses 1.30

One of the most vital teachings of Stoicism is the dichotomy of control. While we have power over our minds and actions, most things we encounter daily are outside our control. Learning to distinguish between those things is critical to keeping calm and building resilience. Things become manageable when you focus on the things you can control in the present moment.

4. Accept the things you can't control

Component: Meaning, Healthy Thinking

"What a power man has to do nothing except what God will approve, and to accept all that God may give him." Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 12.11

Of course, you can try to resist, blame others or yourself for a given situation, and lament that you haven't deserved it. But would that change your situation? Does such a behavior make things better? Probably not. So, practice Radical Stoic Acceptance toward everything you can't control and use the released energy on the things you can.

5. Eat healthy

Component: Wellness

"Food from plants of the earth is natural for us, grains and those which though not cereals can nourish humans well-also food (other than meat) from domesticated animals. The most useful foods are those which can be used immediately without fire-since they are also most easily available-fruits in season, some green vegetables, milk, cheese, and honey." Musonius Rufus

Yes, Musonius Rufus advocated a vegetarian lifestyle. But covering all the different perspectives and angles about different ways of nutrition would take us beyond this article's scope. Still, one thing is certain: a healthy diet is essential for your well-being. Don't overeat, and try to reduce your processed food intake as much as possible. Combine different foods to ensure you get all the necessary nutrients. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Don't forget about physical activities, as they are just as crucial for your health. 

6. Mindfulness exercises

Component: Wellness

"Through not observing what is in the mind of another, a man has rarely been seen to be unhappy; but those who do not observe the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy." Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 2.8

Journaling and self-reflection are basic Stoic exercises to develop arete, a solid and virtuous character. You can learn a lot from your experiences through those practices. Just experiencing difficulties doesn't make you resilient per se. Reflection and involvement in learning from experiences do.


How could you find meaning in, or at least explain, events that are to your dislike? That's challenging, but you can do it.

7. Build a social support network

Component: Connection

"If you ever saw a hand cut off, or a foot, or a head, lying anywhere apart from the rest of the body, such does a man make himself, as far as he can, who is not content with what happens, and separates himself from others, or does anything unsocial. Suppose that you have detached yourself from the natural unity – for you were made by nature a part, but now you have cut yourself off – yet here there is this beautiful provision, that it is in your power again to unite yourself." Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 8.34

I love this point because we often think resilience is a lone-wolf skill. An individual is resilient, so we build resilience when engaging in activities independently. Right? But life is far from solitary, and we need a social support network to thrive and bounce back from disappointments. As Marcus Aurelius said, we cut ourselves from the unity of the human family and the universe when neglecting our social nature. As cosmopolitansStoics believe in the importance of connectedness with others and the world around us.

8. Help others

Component: Connection

"Nature brought us to birth as kin, since it generated us all from the same materials and for the same purposes, endowing us with affection for one another and making us companionable. Nature established fairness and justice. According to nature's dispensation, it is worse to harm than to be harmed. On the basis of nature's command, let our hands be available to help whenever necessary. Let this verse be in your heart and in your mouth: "I am a human being, I regard nothing human as foreign to me." Let us hold things in common, as we are born for the common good. Our companionship is just like an arch, which would collapse without the stones' mutual support to hold it up." Seneca, Letters on Ethics, 95.52-53

Helping others can positively impact resilience as it can strengthen your relationships. You can develop a sense of self-efficacy and purpose by assisting others. Furthermore, providing help gives you a sense of satisfaction that can lead to greater well-being. 

Ultimately, by helping others, you can strengthen your own resilience and increase your community's resilience. A win-win situation for everyone.

9. Learn more about yourself

Component: Connection

"For a man cannot know himself without a trial; no one ever learned what he could do without putting himself to the test; for which reason many have of their own free will exposed themselves to misfortunes which no longer came in their way, and have sought for an opportunity of making their virtue, which otherwise would have been lost in darkness, shine before the world." Seneca, Of Providence, 4

In other words, you don't get resilience from comfort. You get resilience from testing yourself. Leave your comfort zone, seek new challenges, and proactively build resilience. The better you know yourself and what you are capable of, the easier it will get to cope with adversities. Moreover, knowing what's important to you helps set the right priorities and use obstacles as a source of growth.

Now it's your turn to develop this superpower. Be proactive, start your Stoic journey toward a flourishing life, and build resilience along the way!


1 Wikipedia

2 Health, Stress, and Coping / Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Human Strengths


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