The Old Stoic by Emily Brontë

The short poem “The Old Stoic” by Emily Brontë.

The Old Stoic

Riches I hold in light esteem,
And love I laugh to scorn,
And lust of fame was but a dream
That vanished with the morn.

And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me Is,
“Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!”

Yes, as my swift days near their goal,
‘Tis all that I implore –
In life and death, a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.

From Poems of Solitude by Emily Brontë

The Essence of Stoic Philosophy: Excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012)

An excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012) that paraphrases the Handbook of Epictetus to provide a summary of the basic principles of Stoicism.

The Essence of Stoicism

Excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012) by Donald Robertson.

So what practical advice do the Stoics give us about building resilience? Well, this is a philosophy that can be studied for a lifetime and more detailed accounts are available. An excellent modern guide to Stoicism already exists in the book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by Prof. William Irvine, an academic philosopher in the USA (Irvine, 2009). My own writings, especially my book The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, have focused on describing the relationship between Stoicism and modern psychotherapy (Robertson, 2010; Robertson, 2005).

However, although, Stoicism is a vast subject, it was based upon a handful of simple principles. Epictetus summed up the essence Continue reading “The Essence of Stoic Philosophy: Excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012)”

The Evening Meditation: Some Reflections

Some personal reflections on the evening meditation exercise for #Stoicweek

The Evening Meditation: Some Reflections

Donald Robertson

Follow @Stoicweek on Twitter #Stoicweek for daily updates and, er, light-hearted Stoic chit-chat.

I’ve been practising aspects of Stoicism for a few years now, although I feel that for a long time I was just scraping the surface and I’m sure that in years to come I’ll look back on my current practice as a pretty “lightweight” effort.  I’m a cognitive-behavioural  therapist and I feel it’s important for me to try to put into practice as many of the things I use with clients as possible.  However, CBT is largely designed for use with people who have specific mental health problems, clinically severe anxiety or depression, etc.  It helps people with certain problems but it has no clearly-defined goal for us to pursue in relation to life in general.  I felt that I needed a broader philosophical framework, therefore, in order to apply these therapeutic strategies to my own personal development.  (I wrote my book on the subject partly to help me reconcile the techniques I liked from modern therapy with the kind of philosophical system I liked: Stoicism.)

I wanted to share some personal reflections, for a change.  Hopefully this will encourage other students of Stoicism to talk about their experiences during Stoic Week and beyond.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Stoic way of life but maybe some of these comments will inspire thoughts from others and help fuel a bit of discussion.

Continue reading “The Evening Meditation: Some Reflections”

Poll – Which Stoic Exercises from the booklet have you tried so far?

Stoicism Podcasts

Want some listening material for Stoic week? I would strongly recommend Peter Adamson’s podcasts from his series ‘History of Philosophy Without any Gaps‘. In particular:

That list of six recommendations gives you one a day, each 20 minutes or so, ideal for listening to while on the bus, train, or walking. Available via iTunes.

Follow @StoicWeek on Twitter

Follow @StoicWeek on Twitter and #StoicWeek for updates.

Follow @StoicWeek on Twitter

Cato the Younger
Cato the Younger

The “Stoic Week” starts this Monday (26th November).  You can follow updates and Stoic snippets on Twitter via the @StoicWeek account and the #StoicWeek hashtag.

There’s also some discussion on this thread in the Stoicism Reddit.

Please spread the word by Tweeting or sharing the links if you can to raise awareness of this.

Also look out for regular posts and updates on the blog and Twitter during the week.

Stoic Texts for Stoic Week

Anyone completely new to Stoicism who is going to follow the Stoic Week may want to read some ancient Stoic texts but not know where to begin. For the purposes of this project I would recommend two texts: The Handbook of Epictetus (cited a number of times in the booklet) and Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life. Both of these texts are short, accessible, and to the point. Reading them and reflecting on their ideas would itself form a productive exercise during the week. I have made copies of both available online, and they should display reasonably well on mobile devices.