attention personal development Jan 24, 2024


I can’t pronounce it either…

I stumbled on this word as I explored Stoicism.

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice. 


It explores the idea that individuals create their own meaning and values in life through their actions and experiences, rather than relying on external sources. 

It’s interesting to me since we are all born into environments in which we receive our early programming. 

As most of us become aware of ourselves, we realize how much “unlearning” we have to do to truly grow. 

Key thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus delve into concepts of personal responsibility, authenticity, and the anxiety that arises from the awareness of one's freedom. One’s TRUE freedom. 

It's a thought-provoking perspective on human existence and the quest for meaning.

Let’s keep going.  

First, Existentialism and Stoicism are philosophical schools with distinct perspectives, yet they share some common ground in addressing aspects of human existence. 

Here's a brief comparison:


Emphasis on Individual Freedom:

Existentialism places a strong emphasis on individual freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. The focus is on creating personal meaning through individual choices and actions.

Subjective Meaning:

Existentialists argue that life has no inherent meaning, and individuals must actively create their own purpose. The subjective experience of existence is central to existentialist thought.

Embracing Authenticity:

Authenticity is a key concept in existentialism. Individuals are encouraged to be true to themselves, live in accordance with their values, and take responsibility for their choices.

Acknowledgment of Anxiety:

Existentialism acknowledges existential anxiety—the discomfort arising from the awareness of freedom. This anxiety can serve as a catalyst for self-discovery and growth.


Acceptance of Fate and External Events:

Stoicism encourages acceptance of external events and fate. It teaches that individuals should focus on what they can control and accept what is beyond their control with equanimity.

Objective Rationality:

Stoicism emphasizes rationality as a means to achieve inner tranquility. The philosophy encourages individuals to cultivate reason and use it to navigate challenges and emotions.

Universal Reason:

Stoicism holds the belief in a universal reason or logos governing the cosmos. Aligning one's will with this rational order is seen as a path to virtue and peace of mind.

Endurance and Resilience:

Stoicism promotes endurance and resilience in the face of adversity. The philosophy teaches individuals to confront challenges with a calm mind, recognizing that external events are beyond their control.

While existentialism and Stoicism differ in their views on meaning, freedom, and the nature of existence, both philosophies address the human experience and offer perspectives on navigating life's challenges. 

Takeaway: Existentialism leans towards subjective creation of meaning, while Stoicism emphasizes rational acceptance and endurance in the face of external events.

I wrote about Stoicism HERE. 

Ok, moving on. 

Existentialism: Let’s Deepen Our Understanding:

Existentialism challenges us to delve into the depths of our existence. Take time to reflect on the philosophy's core tenets. Understand that existentialism emphasizes the subjective experience of individual existence, where the meaning of life is not predetermined but is a result of our choices and actions.

Let’s explore the works of existentialist thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Søren Kierkegaard. 

We will keep it short and focus on Sartre. As we read, consider how his ideas resonate with your own experiences and beliefs. Recognize the beauty in the freedom to create your own narrative and shape your unique path.

Jean-Paul Sartre, a French philosopher, playwright, and novelist, played a pivotal role in shaping and popularizing existentialism. His impact on this philosophical movement is profound, and here are key aspects of his contribution:

Existence Precedes Essence:

Sartre famously asserted that "existence precedes essence," emphasizing the idea that individuals exist first and then define their essence through their choices and actions. This concept underscores the freedom and responsibility individuals have in creating their own meaning.

Radical Freedom:

Sartre argued for radical freedom, suggesting that individuals are condemned to be free. This means that we are always free to choose, even when we try to evade or deny this freedom. This emphasis on absolute freedom became a core tenet of existentialist thought.

Authenticity and Bad Faith:

Sartre explored the notions of authenticity and "bad faith." Authenticity, in his view, involves living in accordance with one's true self and taking responsibility for one's choices. Bad faith, on the other hand, occurs when individuals evade their freedom and responsibility by conforming to societal expectations or adopting predefined roles.

Existential Anguish:

Sartre delved into the existential anguish that arises from the awareness of our freedom. The anxiety and dread that individuals experience when confronted with the weight of their choices became a central theme in his works, reflecting the challenges inherent in creating one's own meaning.

Notable Works:

Sartre's influential works include "Being and Nothingness," where he explores the nature of consciousness and the concept of "bad faith." His play "No Exit" famously declares that "hell is other people," emphasizing the complexities of interpersonal relationships in the context of existential freedom.

Sartre's impact on existentialism extends beyond philosophy to literature, theater, and political thought. His ideas continue to inspire discussions on personal responsibility, freedom, and the search for authentic existence.

Understanding Existentialism:

Existentialism challenges us to recognize our inherent freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. It invites us to define our own purpose and values rather than conforming to external norms.

Implementation Strategies:

Embrace Personal Responsibility:

Acknowledge that you have the power to shape your own path. Take responsibility for your choices and actions, recognizing that they contribute to the meaning you derive from life.

Cultivate Authenticity:

Be true to yourself. Authenticity is key in existentialist philosophy. Align your actions with your values and beliefs, fostering a genuine connection between who you are and how you live.

Being Aware of Existential Anxiety:

Existentialism introduces the concept of existential anxiety—the discomfort that arises from the awareness of our freedom and the responsibility to define our own meaning. Be mindful of this anxiety, understanding that it's a natural part of the journey.

Rather than avoiding or suppressing existential anxiety, embrace it as a catalyst for growth. Use it as a guide, signaling areas in your life where you can explore, evolve, and align your actions with your authentic self. Being aware of this anxiety empowers you to navigate uncertainties and transform challenges into opportunities for self-discovery.

Cultivating Mindfulness in Everyday Life:

Existential awareness extends to the present moment. Practice mindfulness to stay attuned to your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Being present allows you to make conscious choices aligned with your values, fostering authenticity in your daily interactions.

Regularly Check In With Yourself:

How do your current choices contribute to your sense of purpose? 

Are you living in alignment with your values? This ongoing self-reflection enhances your understanding of existential concepts and facilitates a more intentional and fulfilling life journey.

Action Items to Implement:

Reflect on Your Values:

  • Take time to identify your core values. How do they align with your current choices and actions? Adjust where needed to create harmony between your values and lifestyle.

Embrace Challenges as Opportunities:

  • When faced with challenges, view them as chances for personal growth. Embrace the process of overcoming obstacles, recognizing that it contributes to the richness of your journey.

Connect with Your Authentic Self:

  • Regularly check in with yourself. Are your actions in line with your authentic self? Make adjustments to ensure you're living a life that resonates with who you truly are.

Remember, Existentialism is not about finding predefined answers but about embracing the journey of self-discovery and creating your own meaning.

Wishing you a meaningful and authentic journey.

Thank you for reading.

I hope you found value in this.

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