Why is Stoicism becoming mainstream?

STOICISM was founded approximately 2300 years ago. Times were different back then. But despite this, life's ups and downs and their impact on our attitude and wellbeing remain relevant. The philosophy has, undoubtedly, enjoyed a resurgence in the 21st Century and with the assistance of the internet, has reached millions of people.

But why now and how has it managed to capture the attention of so many?

Modern proponents of Stoicism

The modern-day revival of Stoicism has undoubtedly benefitted from a small group of individuals who openly advocate and advertise the practice. Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss are excellent examples of this. Holiday has brought Stoicism into modern consciousness through his books and Ferriss has described Stoicism as his personal operating system.

Unsurprisingly, this exposure and the attractive headline principles of Stoicism gave it the initial traction required to become somewhat mainstream.

Stoicism out of necessity

Much like a 'personal operating system' or even 'coping mechanism', Stoicism has found popularity amongst several pockets of society. Certainly individuals in the business and startup worlds have utilised stoic practices to deal with the demands of their rollercoaster lives.

It is well documented that bipolar disorder is more prevalent in entrepreneurs and there are many other mental health challenges these individuals face. Where Stoicism has overlapped with productivity, self-development and business, it has gained exposure amongst those who could use it greatly.

The ability to remain level-headed, to take life as it comes and to appreciate that there is no gain from concerning oneself with issues outside our control are clearly beneficial to the entrepreneur or business professional.

The internet

The internet has sped up Stoicism's resurgence. The nature of social media has meant that its awareness and popularity has snowballed. Some of the key sentiments of Stoicism can be summarised in quotes from some of the famous Stoics like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, which form a popular form of social media.

Social media is an arena that does challenge the mind and attitude. It is full of information about which we have no control, yet it impacts us on an emotional and chemical level. Social networks like Facebook directly encourage "reactions" to posts and content from other individuals and companies - the world is being told to react to everything it sees. Much of Stoic teachings advise to not react, not form an opinion, just let it slide.

Persisting relevance

Two entire millennia have treated Stoicism well. Its teachings are as relevant today as they have ever been and it owes this to two factors. The first is that the fundamentals of life's trials and tribulations - their impact on our mind and wellbeing are unchanged. The second is that Stoicism's founders and early architects were so deft at articulating how it can help the mind.

This means that many of the quotes from Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus and Zeno still resonate powerfully with today's society. Somewhat ironically, these quotes find themselves atop semi-suitable stock landscape imagery on posts social media wide. On the very platforms that make us so reactive and histrionic, Stoicism makes its way into the mainstream.