Stoicism versus Hedonism for a better life?
Can we practice Stoicism and Hedonism simultaneously to improve our lives?
Lately, I can’t drink or have sex, or party like a rockstar as much as I used to and it’s causing me to answer some deeper philosophical questions.*
Is this because my soul wants more or am I just getting old?
Is my liver finally waving the white flag?
Is my face wrinkling, hair graying, and stomach doubling because I only seek pleasure and ask for more of what tastes good?
Is hedonism finally catching up with my 41-year old body?
Mark Manson said, “Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.”
Where does struggle, suffering, accomplishment, and pleasure intersect?
I have a lot of questions about whether I need to be a hedonist or a stoic, but this question has been sticking to me like rice on a paddy.
Can we practice Stoicism and Hedonism simultaneously and improve our lives?
Yes, I think we can. If we are intentional about it.
Stoicism is defined by Wikipedia: “It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness, or blessedness) is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain, by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.”
While hedonism’s philosophy suggests a doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life (Merriam-Webster).
For me personally, taking the easy way does not always feel the best. Yes, it feels good while I do it, but in the end, does everything I suffer for, matter and feel more like an accomplishment?
Can I do both and find pleasure in being a hedonistic stoic?
I hate running, yet love the feeling of being fit.
I find accomplishment in low body fat percentages, but hate cooking healthy.
I want passive income levels that sustain my lifestyle but hate working a nine to five.
I find pleasure in sex, but find emotional and physical intimacy make me happier.
Should startups combine passion and possibility?
Should I combine stoicism with hedonism to find the balance in the dichotomy of pleasure, suffering, happiness, struggle, and accomplishment?
Can I make progress with my soul and still fulfill my ego’s needs?
As you get older, you realize life is more delicate. Your health is more delicate. Your relationships are more important. Your time more valuable. As you drift towards the end of your timeline on Earth, you can begin to imagine what you will miss if certain things are taken away.
Who would you die for? What would you die for?
Everything matters, yet if you only follow pleasure, you will die sooner.*
You will likely not be happy. So all the small things add up: How I eat. How I train. How I stay fit. How I stay mentally healthy. How I practice love. How I partner. How I father. How I practice serial non-monogamy.
I mean, all these philosophical ideas are bumbling around inside me while I Bumble with the outside world of women, dating, fitness, startups, and finding eudaimonia.
I’m not into the scene. I don’t care about status, or what kind of car I drive, but I do care about choices that improve my lifestyle. I bought a treadmill because I hate running outside. I invest my savings into real estate that pays me passive income. I sell anything I don’t use within the last year (that goes for underwear to basketball shoes to furniture). Even a collector item — my favorite manual chrome La Pavoni espresso machine had to go.
My philosophy is, if I stop using it, it has to go. Get rid of it. I can’t carry the weight of pleasure into other parts of my life. Minimalism is important to me, but only in a way that creates more of what the soul needs and my ego wants.
My ego wants freedom, money, sex, pleasure, food, or that McDonald’s McNugget 10-pack. My soul wants me and the millions of people in the world that read weird shit to get healthy and self-actualize.
To become what my soul asks of me, should I only practice Stoicism, or can I just be a hedonist?
This is where many people lose the game.
I think you can, and should, try to invent ideas, lifestyles, hobbies, products, startups, or business that creates habits, acts, and behaviors in both stoic and hedonist philosophies in your life.
For example, to sail, you must work hard. You swab the deck, coil lines, seal the leaks, fix the bow pulpit, and check the anchor every season. You work to get the boat out of storage, yet to enjoy sailing, you just raise the sail, and journey into the unknown. You anchor and sleep on the water and the best feeling in the world is breathing in nature, water, and seeing the world on the port side.
You should reward yourself with pleasures when you accomplish stoic habits day in and day out.
We are usually only concerned with our egos; about being right, about looking happy on social media, on having the trophy wife, on getting the raise (and working more to get it), on eating the food that has the most fat, sugar, and ill effects.
The infinite game starts in Stoicism.
This is figuring out who you are by taking away what you want.
By taking away your ego, you can start listening to your soul, you can start figuring out what feeds and fuels you from the inside out. You can start fighting for that inner cause you’ve always felt but never listened to. This is where Stoics win — they get so good, the people, the world, the startups, the employers, the clients, the customers — can’t ignore them.
These are the Steve Jobs of the world.
The Albert Einsteins.
The Phil Jacksons.
The Mother Theresas.
The Martin Luthers.
Fighting for the inner cause we feel isn’t hedonism.
It isn’t always fun.
The soul doesn’t always know how much pain or anguish or suffering it will take to become something of value to yourself or the world.
It can be fun to know who you are and should be becoming, and then it can be un-fun to become it.
Why is that?
I like being healthy, but I don’t always like the process of getting fit.
I like the look of not having Goodyear tires around my stomach, but don’t always enjoy cooking for myself.
When does pleasure take precedent over accomplishment?
Can they both be one and the same?
Hedonistic treadmills are fine from time to time, but it takes suffering, struggle, and will to participate in the accomplishment of building better relationships with intimacy, trust, communication, accomplishment, and honesty; of building a better body with healthy eating, food, fitness, and habits; of building a better startup that creates community, loyalty, progress, and conscious capitalism.
Yet practicing both stoicism and hedonism feels like trying to catch and kill two great white sharks with one net.
Can I combine pleasure and accomplishment into everything I do?
I can still have fun and suffer.
Life is about finding the hedonistic treadmill and running towards something your soul knows you want to accomplish.
*Personally, if I followed only pleasure at 41, I would eat McDonald’s or a chocolate creampie daily, and I think we’ve all seen or heard about the Netflix documentary about that guy.