What happens when one loses everything, all money and possessions? A rich Greek merchant in ancient times, Zeno of Cyprus, chose to study philosophy rather than despair and curse his fate when all he had was lost. He went on to teach the philosophy of stoicism, founded on the principles of four cardinal virtues: wisdom, temperance, justice and courage. This philosophy emphasizes that though we may not have control over the events of our lives, we can control our reactions to them. The lives of Nelson Mandela and Victor Frankl, both of whom survived unjust imprisonment, are examples of how stoicism's influence continues. In the words of Frankl, "We can harness our will power to fill our lives with meaning even in the bleakest situations."


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  • Learn more from this article on Stoicism for the 21st Century.
  • Read this interview with Jacob Needleman to learn more about our inner potential as humans. 
  • Reflect on the meaning of this quote from Victor Frankl: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms---to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

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