WHAT do college students have in their minds these days?

An individual project that needs to be finished tomorrow, study for final examinations next week to at least get a 3.0 mark in Algebra, the need-to-lose-weight syndrome, show to spend monthsary with your boyfriend/girlfriend without sacrificing a group meeting, a recent fight with parents, the best place to hang out, and budgeting a weekly allowance are just some of the things that run in the minds of college students each day. Each has their own pins to juggle— academics, family, social life, relationship, and work.

Some find the multitasking nature of students nowadays an essential tool. The advanced technology made professors demand more from students. With portable gadgets like laptops, DSLRs, and email transmission-capable phones came sooner deadlines.

I remember what I was told about a lesson on the Stoic view of the passions, which I believe I have to live by, at least to endure the following crucial months before graduation, and might also be useful when I get to encounter different kinds of people.

The Stoics believe that holding emotions like fear or envy (or impassioned sexual attachments, or passionate love of anything) would not undergo false value judgments.

They suggest an apathetic view of one’s emotions, in such a manner that one must not let his emotions manipulate him. The person must be in command of his reactions and responses to things as they occur.

It teaches self-control and an indifference to pain or pleasure through detachment from emotions, which allows one to be clear-thinking, levelheaded, and unbiased.

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A person may initially feel fear seeing a dog, thinking that a dog bite is painful, disregarding that for instance, the dog he saw is blind, old, three-legged, and poses no threat to him. Stoics argue that one’s fear, pleasure, and desire may overpower one’s rational thinking.

Stoics consider passions or desire as excessive and irrational, because they carry one beyond the dictates of reason, sensations which must be disregarded.

For instance, if you feel hungry, and you saw a piece of bread in the table, you get it and eat it, conscious that it is not the right thing to do.

The lesson, which seemed to be more of an advice to me, reminded me of an activity that facilitated by a guest speaker has been running in my head for the past few days. He told us that in five seconds, by merely a glimpse, we can easily distinguish the kind of persons we’ll meet, and how to deal with them.

I was able to identify myself among the “informal dominant” cluster—the type who doesn’t care about deadlines yet still gets things done, impulsive, assertive, and considers tasks and relationships of equal importance.

Definitely, it was me, except that I have always had the tendency to be highly emotional and anxious even on things that do not require such behavior. This side of me made me think that I also fall under the “informal flows-with” quadrant, the emotional people, those who just go with the flow, because they don’t want to ruin their relationship with other people.

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Given my frail control of my emotions and desires, I thought that an attempt to a ‘stoic mode’ would be a long way not only for me, but to those who share the same weak, and at times, go-with-the-flow personality like mine. This is why I admire people who can pose a strong aura amid facing problems and difficulties.

But sometimes, people tend to cope in a cruel environment by giving in to these emotions and desires. Each person has his own definition of happiness and the ‘good,’ which may not agree to another’s definition. It’s just that Stoics had their own definition, too.

Quoting Marcus Aurelius in his book, Meditations, he advised people to “say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together.”

And, as Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “no man is free who is not master of himself.”

Confronted with everyday challenges in our studies, social life, family, friends and work, the Stoic way of life may be worth a try, as long as that attitude still conforms to the unspoken rules of every society.

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