The Science Behind Being a Stoic
Its in our control to decide how we react to events
It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgments concerning them.
I ran across an interesting report a while back that would seem to validate both Stoicism’s benefits to the individual in reducing stress and my “onion” view of the mind. “Prefrontal Executive Control Rescues Risk for Anxiety Associated with High Threat and Low Reward Brain Function”, a report from the journal Cerebral Cortex, discusses how the brain’s executive functions (“the rational mind” in my model) can reduce anxiety in test subjects in laboratory tests.
To any Stoic over the past 2,000 years, I believe the response to this research would be, “Well, duh!”. This is a core part of Stoic philosophy, specifically the axiom that it is not events that disturb us but our reactions to them. Training your rational mind to respond to events instead of your emotional mind is the key to taking charge of your life and reducing anxiety in your life.
I am constantly training my rational mind to gain greater control over my monkey and lizard minds, temper their reactions to external stimuli, and subsequently distort my thoughts and actions. Knowing that my “mind” is a combination of minds is the first step for me in this control, and as this research shows, there is a scientific basis that supports my views.