The field of psychology has roots in ancient philosophy. Philosophy can teach us how to live well and how to deal with human suffering. I have been listening to an audio-book by Massimo Pigliucci called ‘How to be a Stoic.’ Massimo presents an introduction to Stoicism as a humane and practical philosophy that anyone can practice. So far I have gathered that moral character is the most important aspect of oneself to cultivate. This is more important than health, riches and comforts. Interesting.
The goal of Stoicism is to overcome adversity and attain inner peace by being present and engaging with life’s problems instead of seeking an escape. Some stoics say we should curb our emotions when faced with things that are out of our control but perhaps our emotions can guide us to action, especially when faced with big global problems like: climate change, economic collapse, war and the rise of authoritarianism. Should we seek to stifle our emotions, control them or repress them? Can we instead use them as an energy to transform through correct action?
Can Stoicism help us transfigure by using our emotions and thoughts through increased self-awareness of the inner world? Could it help people to develop strategies to cope with suffering by cultivating strength and virtues? Could this help keep human suffering to a minimum when basic needs and rights are being met? Could we use the power of our emotions more beneficially, instead of in a reactive and self-destructive manner? I only have questions at this point in my research.
I feel strong emotions on a regular basis. Often I find that it’s my own thoughts that are stressing me out, that many of my conflicts start in my own mind. Even when it comes to art making, I create a minefield of resistance and procrastination and then feelings of failure. This is why I have been doodling lately. Only doodles- no art. Or is it art? It has released the pressure of having to create market driven art or art that could get me a mention in the contemporary art world.
There is a power to the doodle that is not to be underestimated. It has been around for 40,000 years with the oldest cave paintings. It seems to be an integral part of human nature and reflects the brain’s DNA, what we are thinking about subconsciously, revealing our personality and inner drives. It can increase our memory and deepen our knowledge. My inner self is filled with eyeballs and snakes! It is a way of not only thinking differently, but more importantly- feeling differently. This is why I believe doodling transfigures our emotions and can offer a useful activity to bind anxiety and lead a more meaningful life.