The Stoic Concept of Apatheia

The Stoic Concept of Apatheia

Apatheia, often translated as "imperturbability" or "tranquility," is a state of being free from negative emotions and passions. That doesn’t mean that the Stoics believed in suppressing or denying their emotions, but rather, they strived to cultivate a detached and rational perspective that allowed them to avoid being controlled by their emotions.

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus, wrote extensively about the importance of apatheia. He believed that it was essential for living a good life, and that it could be achieved through training and practice. According to Epictetus, the key to achieving apatheia is to focus on what is within our control, and to let go of the things that are not. 

“It isn't the things themselves that disturb people, but the judgements that they form about them.” 

- Epictetus

When we react to things out of emotion, we are allowing the outside problems of the world to march in our front door. By remaining calm and composed, even in the face of adversity, we can avoid being thrown off course by our emotions. In other words, apatheia allows us to maintain our composure, no matter what life throws our way.

On a day-to-day level, cultivating apatheia might involve setting aside time each day for reflection and mindfulness. It may also involve practicing techniques like meditation or deep breathing to help calm the mind. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a mindset that is not easily swayed by emotions, and that allows us to remain focused and composed, even in lifes most difficult situations.