As an atheist, getting through the christmas season, as a time of strange behavior of the devout is an exercise in understanding. They, many of the christians, become highly stressed trying to acheive perfection and do all that they believe is expected of them. Sitting back, becoming the anthropologist, and watch the strange customs of the religious, and the strange dress is an ideal atheist approach to the season. Christmas is a time for the anthropologist in me to come out to observe the bizarre behaviors. There is no point trying to understand the ritualistic behaviors or the traditions. These are what they are, have developed through an evolution process, with many incremental annual changes, on an oral/memory based, modified by what is available reality.
In a drop in archery class we have young ladies from immoral modern Japanese skimpy, women in sports bras, see through leggings, bra-less thin shirts, to the full burka of the Muslims. We have seen people in dress formal attire, long nails, high heels so high they are unable to walk. We have seen indulgent parents of bratty youth, youth being pushed into activity by parents, we have seen the young that are driven by their own desires. We see adults that struggle with youth strength bows, and youth that pull experienced adult strength bows with ease. We see adults with the physical coordination of toddlers, and the disabled, to body builders. It is often necessary to just observe, an ideal training for an anthropology like attitude.
Pythagoras, of "the sum of the squares of the two sides of a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse" fame became a bit strange with age. He became aware that humans could "improve their state mentally by believing in the supernatural." or so translations suggest. So if we live in the Land of Nod, and all nod together, life is wonderful. I can believe that, for I lived that in the religion of my ancestors, and those who still do, think there life is wonderful. All this implies that our values give our life meaning, purpose, and if we never examine our life critically, everything in that life is wonderful, within that frame of reference. So our lives become just illusions until we realize this, and that we are driven by chemicals, and if and when those chemical reactions are running normally, we think we have control. We only think we have control, for if those chemicals change, we are out of control, like it or not. Our mind does not have absolute control. We have a illusion of control only, not control. We are the dog tied to the cart, we go where the chemicals take us. As long as we are going in the right direction, all is good. But our thinking over time also modify the chemicals and the makeup of our brains. It is a vicious circle, and where does it start?
Pythagoras realized that we humans can use this to live in our minds when life gets tough, and draw on the supernatural for strength, comfort, reassurance, companionship, whatever we desired in our lives. All that was necessary was that we became willing to believe in the supernatural and that belief would furnish the feedback proof that it works. When you explore this rabbit hole, you may find it warm and pleasant, and may not wish to return to the real world. That is ok, the christians created a culture of living in such rabbit holes, and have survived well at it for thousands of years. That may be the foundation of the Stoic, "live naturally", as opposed to the Pythagoras "seek the help of the supernatural".
Now that we know the root of these concepts, choose as you wish. Where is this going? I think I should go shoot something.