Day Four of Stoic Week: How's it going?

Everyone please feel free to comment below and share your experiences from the fourth day of Stoic Week!

Please post on anything to do with your practice of Stoicism today. Some questions you might consider to help with this:

  • Did you manage to employ the maxim ‘we are not disturbed by events but by our opinions of events’ in the face of any difficult or stressful situations today? How did that go?
  • When in a stressful situation, did it help to examine your thoughts with the question: ‘what is up to me here’?
  • Who did you pick as your role model? And how did that help and in what situations?
  • How did you find the texts for reflection?

If you are blogging about the week, or if you are doing a video diary, please also post links to those below.

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16 thoughts on “Day Four of Stoic Week: How's it going?”

  1. Today (Thursday) is Thanksgiving here in the US, so lots of friends/relatives and friends/relatives of friends/relatives are coming in. Perfect opportunity to practice my attitude towards others. Just remember that anger is a choice…

  2. Another excellent Lunchtime exercise today, this time on Stoic Mindfulness. I put my worries behind me and concentrated on living in the present moment, like enjoying the drive back from Glasgow with not a care in the world. I can see why some people were getting overwhelmed by Stoic Week yesterday. There’s lots to take in, in such a short space of time, especially when you have a full day’s work ahead of you but today was like a chilling out period. Taking a break.

    My Stoic Sage role model today was “The White Lady of Lothian Road”. A woman dressed completely in white from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. Every morning she walks purposely down a long street in the city and back up again on a two hour pilgrimage. To where I don’t know but she does it with style, grace and elegance without showing any concern or interest for the people or buildings surrounding her. True indifference!

  3. The Marcus effect
    While in a café doing my lunchtime exercise on mindfulness today I had left Meditations casually on the table by my notes while leaving to fetch another drink … on returning, I found that 3 people had appeared around my table and all wanted to ask me about Marcus and none knew one another. Bizarre as when I studied the stoics at university 20 years ago I don’t remember On Duties or On the Shortness of Life left on the table as having this effect!!. None of these inquisitive folk knew about the live like a stoic week but all were Marcus fans and one has since emailed me expressing regret that the conference on Sat is full and suggesting a repeat event for the north of england. I think this project is definitely on to something big …It’s not that Marcus was perfectly virtuous that attracts people; it’s his fallibility and his honesty in working hard towards living a good life; his personal touch – reminiscent of Montaigne I think. Their philosophy is accessible because we feel that they are ordinary people like us; they struggled like we do (Marcus on getting up in the morning bk5.1 is my favourite – although if you then read his letters to Fronto you realise that he was having a hard time getting up … at 4am!!!)

  4. Epictetus has long been my Stoic role model, and remembering to focus on ‘what’s up to me’ has been useful. But after four days I’m still not convinced that simply tending one’s private garden is enough….

  5. When my computer fizzled out yesterday I calmly arranged for it to be geeked today, so managed not to ‘catastrophise’ that event, having realised that a remedy was within my control. The role model question is not easy to answer; I have many, including Frankl, Freud and others. At the same time, I know that only I can live my life, so I do not want to rely on sayings, maxims etc too much. I have been helped by the textx for reflection in situations such as the one I began with.

    1. Consider thinking of the ideal Sage as the notion of yourself made wiser and more fulfilled, if that helps. Imagine what your ideal future self would be like, how she would cope with challenges or mundane tasks, how she might order her life differently, and what advice she might give you if she could pop in the Tardis, come round for tea, and accompany you while having your computer “geeked”, etc.

  6. There’s an article from yesterday’s Independent is relevant both to today’s theme of Stoic Mindfulness and yesterday’s article on Stoicism in sport.. Here’s the most relevant bit, written by English fast bowler of the 1950s Frank Tyson about Keith Miller, an Australian adversary
    “How I admire Miller,” [Tyson] wrote. “He saw me looking worried and asked after the cause of my anxiety. He then helped to put matters into perspective by enquiring if I could remember what I was worrying about a year previously.

    “When I answered that I couldn’t, he made the wonderfully perspicacious observation which put everything in true proportion: ‘Then why were you worrying then and why are you worrying now?’”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/ashes-201314-memories-of-frank-tyson-and-indian-fightback-soothe-battered-england-squad-following-departure-of-jonathan-trott-8965186.html

    The first step is to be aware, or mindful, of what’s going in in our mind. Then we can decide whether to continue with this particular train of thought or not. People sometimes say “but I can’t control it”. But, would they stop worrying if the phone rang or the doorbell went? As the Stoics told us many years ago, we have more power over our thinking process than over external events.
    Once you’ve decided that worrying is useless and that you have control over it, you can exercise it by using techniques like “Worry time” – setting aside a certain period each day to do all your worrying..

    To return to Epictetus and the idea that we are troubled not by our events but by our interpretation of them. What Keith Miller and modern therapists would say is that its not just the content of our thoughts that matter, its the process of certain types of thinking. Worrying and dwelling on things (ruminating) are particularly toxic ways of reacting to events. If we interpret the events as beyond our control, we can decide to do nothing about them. That way lies serenity.

  7. Thanks Patrick, these reminders are helpful to stay mindful of how we are going about in the world. And if some of you out there following Stoic Week have not included everything you planned to do last last Sunday, don’t give yourself a hard time. Treat each new day as a new opportunity.Don’t beat yourself up for ‘failing’, reflect on your original ans, hoe realistic were they, what obstacles got in tbe way, how might you change your planning to maximise your chances of achieving including some stoic practises in your life TODAY Baby steps towards a new way of being. Stoic week can be for life not just pre Christmas