How can I set realistic goals?

Have you ever tried to accomplish something, only to get totally depressed when it all falls to shit? What’s a fella to do? Most of us want to grow as individuals, but we need a plan. And Epictetus has one. Life is like a banquet A onetime slave turned Stoic philosopher, Epictetus said life isContinue reading “How can I set realistic goals?”

Stress makes it hard to think

Giving up the delusion of control helps. Driving cross country is a great way to see the US of A in all its variation. And there’s more than one way to do it. East-west comes to mind first, and there’s the northern tier states, the southern tier, and the middle. Then there’s north-south—east coast, westContinue reading “Stress makes it hard to think”

Is gay Jesus offensive?

Don’t take the bait. Being offended is a status symbol of sorts. And giving offense has always been a sport. We might feel offended when we think our social status is being challenged. Or when someone says something that contradicts our self-image. There may be other reasons too. Being offended creates a certain moral status.Continue reading “Is gay Jesus offensive?”

Who’s the most Stoic Star Trek character?

Mr. Spock is often seen as the ultimate stoic. Yet, Stoic philosopher Epictetus says not to be like a stone statue. Can you be emotional and stoic at the same time? No—that’s a contradiction in terms. But can you be emotional and Stoic at the same time? Yes—Stoicism has a nuanced perspective on emotion. WhetherContinue reading “Who’s the most Stoic Star Trek character?”

Stoicism & Western Buddhism

The similarity of Buddhism and Stoicism is not a new observation. But Patrick Ussher in Stoicism & Western Buddhism offers a more nuanced perspective. The similarities apply more to Western Buddhism and modern Stoicism than to the ancient versions of either. In both cases, Ussher argues, modern Westerners have revised ancient philosophies to fit currentContinue reading “Stoicism & Western Buddhism”

Anxiety and locus of control

Do you focus on your choices or on events you don’t control? In book two part thirteen of his Discourses Epictetus makes an astute observation: When I see someone in a state of anxiety I say, “What is it that he wants?” For unless he wanted something that was not within his power, how could he stillContinue reading “Anxiety and locus of control”

Judgmentalism reveals our insecurities

And that also puts other people’s judgmentalism into perspective. Everyone knows that a stronger person can overpower you. But perhaps that’s not quite true. Physically, yes, you can be overpowered. But even if they threaten to kill you they still can’t make you do something that you think is wrong. Socrates chose to die rather thanContinue reading “Judgmentalism reveals our insecurities”

Self-interest isn’t anti-social

But where we locate our self-interest matters. It’s controversial to say self-interest is our primary motivation for whatever we do. This claim seems to advocate selfishness. And what would a society built on selfishness be like? Besides, there are examples of people taking great risks or even sacrificing themselves for people they don’t even know. HowContinue reading “Self-interest isn’t anti-social”

Stoic compassion

Stoic compassion isn’t an oxymoron. Because being stoic (in common parlance) is equated with a lack of feeling, the notion that Stoicism promotes compassion may seem like a contradiction. After all, Epictetus counseled his students not to get caught up in other people’s psychodramas: When you see someone weeping in sorrow…don’t hesitate to sympathize withContinue reading “Stoic compassion”

Book review: How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci

If you’re interested in the philosophy of Stoicism, Massimo Pigliucci’s How to Be a Stoic is the place to start. Don’t let the fact that it’s philosophy stop you – Pigliucci’s conversational, straightforward writing style makes Stoicism easily accessible. Donald Robertson’s Stoicism and the Art of Happiness is also a good introduction. But while Robertson is moreContinue reading “Book review: How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci”