How becoming a Stoic can make you happy


The Stoics were interested in leading a life of “tranquility,” meaning a life free of “anger, anxiety, fear, grief, and envy.” To achieve such a life the Stoics developed, in the words of historian Paul Veyne, a “paradoxical recipe for happiness,” that included the practice of “negative visualization.” By frequently and vividly imagining worst-case scenarios — the death of a child, financial catastrophe, ruined health — the Stoics believed you would learn to appreciate what you have, and curb your insatiable appetite for more material goods, social status, and other objects of desire.

Reading the book, I had no trouble understanding how negative visualization could be an effective antidote against “hedonic adaptation.” By imagining ourselves to be homeless, for instance, we can reset our desire for a more luxurious home and once again appreciate the roof over our head that we started taking for granted shortly after moving in.

Leave a Reply