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

Everyone please feel free to comment below and share your experiences from the first 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:

  • How did you apply the exercise ‘what is in our power and what is not’ to your life today? Did it help?
  • Are you encountering any obstacles?
  • Do you have any thoughts or observations to share with others?
  • How did the morning and/or evening meditation go?
  • Do you have any questions?

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

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71 thoughts on “Day One of Stoic Week: How's it going?”

  1. Arose at 0530 with the intention of making coffee and then making a morning meditation. Poured, shut off the light, and sat down in the rocker with my feet up on the warm masonry of the stove. Brief monkey brain while looking for a topic.

    Topic suggested itself as I became aware that the only two sounds I could hear were my breath and the heavy rain outside: Man–me–as part of the natural world. A few superficial ruminations on this, and then, much to my annoyance, the refrigerator came on. Fought it, tried to deny it and ignore it, and then recognized a much more important and immediate topic: What annoys me and how do I deal with it?

    I identified four categories: 1) My own grand schemes/ideas that I obsess over and that eventually just fade away into the background–lack of follow-through; 2) Unpleasant little life tasks that really can’t be avoided–resentment at having to do them; 3) Having to do tasks that aren’t really important to me, that aren’t part of my agenda, but that I feel obliged to do because someone near and dear to me has asked; and 4) things I have promised others I would do but delay doing because…..why?

    I also noted that everything on this list is within my power to change, and that the first two affect me, alone, while the last two affect others.

    Goal for day is awareness around this subject.

    I’m glad I went out to the wood yard yesterday and brought in the tools: It’s pouring out. And sometime in the past hour the refrigerator shut off.

  2. I’m able to give it the full Monty this week. Applying the Stoic Week Handbook in my home as well as in the work place. So far I’ve completed the morning meditations, the lunchtime exercises and the evening reflections. Putting in to practice, what it says on paper and it’s working really, really well for me. I’m already more prepared than I have ever been for the day ahead, have less stress at work and also look forward to coming home each evening and completing the Evening Reflections. Hope to write a fuller report when I have more time at the weekend. I work an eleven hour day.

  3. I had the day off work for Christmas shopping so it was kind of an easy start to Stoic Week. I decided I’d concentrate on moderation and self-control. As suggested by Gillian I tried smoking mindfully in order to help me cut down at teh same time telling myself thsi was an empty pleasure. I have to say, really concentrating on smoking a cigarette was really unpleasant! I was glad to put it out and with the help of nicotine replacement gum didn’t crave another cigarette all day.
    I applied mindfulness to my breakfast and lunch too and ate a lot less than normal while still feeling satisfied. Failed a bit a dinnertime as I had the tv on in the background.
    The most effective part of Stoci practice came for me when I was listening to the news on the radio and heard a report that instantly made me feel sick with disgust and very upset. I managed to pause my reactions and say to myself that – yes, a horrible, bad thing has happened but it’s not happening now and my being upset will not change anything. What happened was out of my control. It worked really well and although the thought popped into my mind throughout the day, upsetting thoughts didn’t.
    My one ‘fail’ of the day was not being able to stop myself from being irritated by a women near me on the train filing her nails like a carpenter sanding a piece of wood. I gave in to my feelings and moved seats!

  4. Personally, I find your accent very soothing (I think I remember reading somewhere that in general people find a Scots accent reassuring which is why many companies have their call centres in Scotland).
    I could happily listen to you reading the back of a cereal packet, though I might not find it so helpful!
    I could happily listen to you reel off the small pr

  5. Conducted a physical fitness event for the military today. Mandatory and thus out of my control, but many people still complained about it. Me and my boss made the best of it to try and test our endurance regardless of the fact it was not a competition.

    1. Good stoic practice – you couldn’t’ change the fact you had to do the tests but you could control how you viewed them so you didn’t wind yourself up – how did moaning help the other guys ? Answer, it probably didn’t. Thanks, a constructive example to share. Gill

  6. I read about stoicism just this morning on a friend’s Facebook page. It sounded intriguing. Later in the morning I read an article in the news entitled “Keep calm and think on: how the ancients can save today’s world”. Not being one to ignore coincidences, I decided to take the challenge. And being a counsellor of teens, regularly teaching them CBT, I am already a proponent of many of the principles. This afternoon, my husband and I drove into the city, about 60km from home. We were listening to the morning meditation routine. I took note of the comment to embrace the whole of what might happen that day, and consider even negative events occurring. One hour later, our car suddenly broke down in the middle of a LOT of traffic. We managed to pull it off the road, and then all the questions appeared. Who to call? How to get home? How to pick up our son at the train station? What is wrong with the car? And so on. As I felt panic rising, I remembered the morning talk, and worked at calming myself with positive thoughts. We can work through this. It could have been worse. Luckily we both had today off. Luckily we were both together when this happened. In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor irritant. Anyway, we are both home now, after towing the car to a garage. I’m glad to have had a chance to practice my stoicism, particularly on the first day! I’d be ok with not having to practice it quite so intensely for the remainder of the week tho 😉

    1. Thank you for taking us through the thought processing and I integration of CBT and stoic reasoning. You recognised the uncomfortable rising feelings, rationalized your thinking and the outcome, although an inconvenient situation, was less disturbing than it could have been.Mindfulness seems to have really been helpful. Thank you Gill

  7. My basic exercise is to try and remember that I can’t control how others think, feel, or what they do, I can only do it for myself, so focus on that. Haven’t cracked open the audio or visual meditations yet, but I hope to tonight.

    1. Exactly, once you bring something into your consciousness, you can choose if you want to change something. Some old habits of thinking can pose problems without us realising . Tbat is where the CBT practical therapy has great links. My book ‘ CBT for Work’is a pocket size I introduction to CBT for anyone. CBT is for life, but it can be for Christmas if you buy yourself it as a present ! : ) link http://www.happytalking.co.uk Gill

  8. Downloaded Handbook mid-morning so did not get into it from start of today but can relate to whole idea of the “exercises” proposed. I recently complete 8 week mindfulness course using book and cd so discipline/idea of meditation understood but of course I am aware of that this is far deeper than where I am “at” with the MCBT.

  9. A working dad who does most around the house – cooking cleaning ironing etc. When the printer didn’t stop I wondered what I was getting into. Will give it a go but not sure if I’ll have time to do videos & audio stuff- desktop only. Not too sure what all this is about anyhow. Fortunately travel on public so ought to be able to read.

  10. I also caught up with this from hearing about it on the Today programme. The questionnaires were interesting although the one where you are asked about experiencing feelings used the word afraid whereas I experience anxiety quite often so I answered that for anxiety. The main obstacle today was the recording about evening meditation keep skipping back to the start!

    1. Yes, our interpretations of word can vary so much – what it means to you is your validity, and fear & anxiety often are experienced regularly.Hope the resources are helpful, there are also some otber websites with great free resources. The Windmill Buddist site is a favourite of mine

  11. Tues am: I have found stoic week so far really interesting. I got introduced to stoicism from a chapter in Oliver Burkemann’s book – The Antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking (great book). Found that a lot of what he described of stoicism resonated with me and made sense, so I looked up more about it on the internet and came across this stoic week. From the handbook I loved last night’s meditation quote on living the day well and looking forward to the new day as a gift, and this morning’s thought about life really not being too short if you don’t procrastinate and live well. I found the exercise on evaluating what I’ve done well or badly during the day very useful. Looking forward to the rest of the week.

  12. Due to various things I’m behind on this initiative. But will do my best to catch up tomorrow or Wednesday. There has been one moment today when being mindful about oikeiosis was really helpful. Stoic thinking helped me to get up this morning and get to my exhausting job.

  13. I, too, only heard about Stoic Week on R4 this morning. Have listened to the exercises and am filled with dread although interest. I am not a morning person – don’t even want to see the sunrise. Although I often plan my day will I be able to be still for 10 mins in the morning and evening without listening to the radio
    ? A challenge.

  14. As I only heard about this on the radio this am no mornng meditation this am. Hope to be on schedule this pm.

    Facinating to be comming into contact with a Classical philosophy which predates the Christian tradition cenrtred on original sin, a fallen world and the need for redemption.

  15. I heard about Stoic Week on the Today programme this morning and was immediately interested as it seems to link in with the philosophy of acceptance which is something that I have been trying to achieve in my life. I have downloaded the handbook and will give it a go although I agree with a previous post about the difficulty of clearing your mind and managing to focus. Anyway will give it a try.

    1. Great work, Liz. Yes, acceptance is a key in CBT alongside the stoic attitudes. Spot on, it takes hard work to incorporate the cognitive shift to not just intellectualise but truly move to New found rational beliefs & felt acceptance but you have made a determined start Gill

  16. I never thought of myself as a stoic…but rather just as myself.
    Guessing that is ultra stoic,as the focus doesn’t shift from the thought process even to label it. Now that I am acknowledging my stoicism for a week it will be interesting to see how it goes

  17. I think I was born to be a stoic. I am always up very early in the morning and often walk out to watch the sunrise. After I wake up I always lie in my bed quietly planning the day ahead. Of late I have become quite pessimistic and depressed so letting go of things that are beyond my control and taking control of the rest has been really good for me . I look forward to the rest of the week.

      1. Hi Sally, so do I ! I love a morning meditation watching the sunrise. Sounds as though things are less comfortable for you at the moment. Will be relally I retested to hear your feedback to see if putting more stoic practises in your life & a consideration of stoic readings ( bibliography ! ) Have an effect on your wellbeing and flourishing. Remember the disclaimer about informing the medical services too, even if just to run stuff past them.

  18. Heard about this on World Update. Every Mon-Fri I wake up feeling discouraged and dreading the coming work day, dreading it because of the million things I can’t control that I am still held accountable for. Desperately hoping I can adopt a stoic attitude….

      1. Hi Carol, hoping that taking some time to have a look at the booklet and work to help change two-way you view work and your day ahead Will help reduce the negative emotions. I know this is a plug, but my book ‘Introducing CBT for Work’ a simple, pocket size paperback might help.Based on the philosophy it gives you a ‘think kit’ to pay when things get tough.Direct link for book from my website Gill Garratt http://www.happytalking.co.uk

  19. Woke up twenty minutes late as I forgot to set my alarm after the weekend. Initial feelings were of panic, then I remembered that it shouldn’t affect me and even if I was late that did not detract from me being a “good person”.

    Arrived on time after I calmly prepared. Started off the day at work and thought about why I would feel nervous or afraid, realised it was because I was afraid of being asked questions I didn’t know and that this might affect people’s judgement of me. Focused instead on finding solutions rather than what people thought, and it had an instantly calming effect.

    1. You have really been mindful of the stoic attitudes & practices. This is a great exams of how you have applied it to your daily life.How much did you know about Stoicism/CBT before the project ? Thank you for sharing these experiences. Gill Garratt

  20. I have had some difficulties in deciding what is up to me or not in situations involving other people. In some ways, I have no control over what other people do. At the same time, sometimes, I _can_ make them change their ways. Should I, though, and how hard should I try? Why would I even try? What are valuable reasons for a stoic to make other people change (if any?)

    1. Thanks Jonas – that’s a really important question. Epictetus says that whilst other people themselves are not in your control, how you relate to them is, and that you try to place the good, and kindness (and other qualities as appropriate to the situation) into your relations with others. A lot of the time, people think that when the Stoics say other people are outside of our control means we should not care about them – nothing could be further from the truth! It’s a fact that you can’t control other people, but you can certainly care for them.

      As regards your other question, the Stoics would say that at times it would be right to offer constructive yet gently put advice to others, although it is always best to lead by example.

      1. I share this problem with the word ‘control.’ What does it mean? At times in the blog lines it is used interchangeably with ‘power.’ The question of what is and is not in your control is really slippery. We may have power, control, influence, capacity – those are all different things in terms of how we act (and react). Responsibility changes our position with regard to control (and all those related terms) – so does liability. We can exercise control on a sliding scale too – through direct and decisive action, and assay (attempt), through manipulation, manoeuvring, strategically or not.
        One could spend the whole week discussing ‘control’ as a wide open question.

  21. I have completed the questionnaire but so many of the questions involved ambiguous words like good and happy that I was unable to reply honestly. I need definitions first! One person’s idea of “a good life” will beverydifferent from another. It all seems a bit vague to me.
    The exercises are hard to carry out with the constant talking and distracting scotish accent, I guess it is best to listen and then do the visualisation techniques after.
    It all seems a bit like a cross between yoga and CBT

    1. I liked Donald Robertson’s introduction to the morning meditation. And I don’t find a Scottish accent distracting! But, I did listen to the intro last night, not when I was doing the meditation.

        1. Ok ok Can overcome the accent thing by learning the technique and doing it alone!

          Having planned my day yesterday morning in much more detail than I normally do, by evening I felt terrible about the things I didn’t achieve, (like reading the handbook) I was actually looking forward to them so it is disappointing to miss them. I guess tomorrow morning I will have to use the experience and learn from my mistakes!

          It is Such a shame this wasn’t heralded on radio 4 last week so that we would have had more time to prepare! It is time consuming reading all this, but very interesting, as I’ve always been a very reflective person anyway.

    2. I guess we each embark on our own journeys trying to make sense of our world and the world in general.Same too with resources, each developing personal preferences, trying out different materials u til we find those tbat resonate with us. Thanks, Elaine.

  22. Morning one I have found a little difficult. Main issues have been trying to start working the morning exercise into the daily routine (and not giving in to sleep!).

    I also had a little issue of knowing what to address. My mind was a bit of a muddle and I found myself trying to think about too much at once! I think this will get easier as it begins to feel more natural.