SQOTM

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Eleanor Pontikes Perhaps you’ve noticed the papers plastered around the building on doors and walls with SQOTM written in thick black pen. SPQR? You might think. Is this something about Rome? Close, but SQOTM stands for “Stoic Quote of the Month,” the Latin language teachers’ effort to spread stoic teachings and their application to high school life in order to promote wellness. Ms. Hellenbrand says that the Latin language teachers wanted to practice wellness both in and out of the classroom in different ways. Two years ago, Ms. Hellenbrand implemented breathing exercises and short, five to ten-minute meditations at the beginning of each class. But all three of the teachers wanted a way to bring the ancient world into the classroom as well. From that thought came the idea of discussing a stoic quote at the beginning of each month. Stoicism was founded in Athens in the third century BC by the Hellenistic thinker Zeno, a man whose ideas were famously practiced by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and philosophers Seneca and Epictetus. Humans cannot control external events, stoicism says, rather individuals must focus on controlling themselves and their responses to events. The principles of stoicism rely on the brevity and unpredictability of life and how any dissatisfaction with life comes from impulsivity rather than logic. The tenets of stoicism are meant to be shared and discussed, but primarily applied to everyday life, providing a philosophy that easily fit in with the Latin language teachers’ effort to connect wellness to the ancient world. This month’s stoic quote is, “Counter envy with reason–satisfaction can only be found within,” a sentiment which hangs on posters throughout the school for the month of November. The quote is especially pertinent in November with the stress revolving around November 1st and 15th college applications and deadlines, reminding students that the paths of other students should not be compared to their own. It is easy to get caught up in where other people apply and to compare yourself and your successes to others; however, as students are granted admission to various colleges in the next few months, the quote serves as a reminder to focus on your own path and your own successes. Stoicism isn’t about forsaking emotions altogether, rather emotions should be acknowledged then countered with reason. “Emotional responses aren’t set in stone as teenagers, now’s the time to set ways of thinking,” Ms. Hellenbrand says. “So much changes in college, but being able to control yourself and your responses is really powerful. Stoicism focuses on the fact that you can’t control others actions, only how you react to things. So often we try to change other people, but you cannot.” Of course, countering envy with reason is applicable to other situations as well—sibling rivalries, sports, material possessions. The beauty of stoicism is that each individual can find their own meaning in a lesson told thousands of years ago. Senior Peter Gofen, remarks, “It’s fascinating how we can apply a school of ancient philosophy today, with the fundamental values remaining fully intact. The study of Stoicism—and our exploration with quotes of the month—works as an exercise in self-awareness, reason, and transparency.” This is the first year the stoic quote of the month is visible to all students instead of just ones taking Latin. Ms. Hellenbrand says, “So much of our wellness initiatives revolve around physical fitness and eating well, but often we forget [to think] about mindfulness—which is something people should be doing multiple times a day. These signs make you stop and pause a second to think. In a few months, when people grow accustomed to the posters, it would be cool to have students interpret philosophy in a group setting for their own wellness.” Additionally, the signs, “are a way to peak people’s interest in a topic they may not be familiar with.” The Latin language can get a bad reputation for not being spoken anymore outside of classrooms, but material from thousands of years ago is undoubtedly relatable and applicable. The seamless application of stoicism to our modern lives, which deal with iPads rather than waxed tablets, is a testimony to the power and timelessness of the ancient world, bringing the otherwise “dead” language of Latin and ancient culture of Rome and Greece to life. https://dailystoic.com/what-is-stoicism-a-definition-3-stoic-exercises-to-get-you-started/]]>