Day Seven of the Stoic Life: The end of Stoic Week

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

  • How did you find the ‘view from above’ exercise? What difference did it make to how you lived today?
  • Did you use the audio recording? How was that?
  • How has the week gone as a whole? Do you think you will continue living like a Stoic?
  • Which ideas and exercises did you find most helpful this week?

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.

Don’t forget to fill out the post-week questionnaires today (ideally this evening). This will make a huge difference to creating an evidence base for Stoicism’s effectiveness.

18 thoughts on “Day Seven of the Stoic Life: The end of Stoic Week”

  1. So I have been on a cruise ship for the last few weeks and did not get to reflect online about stoic week. I would like to say that I have enjoyed it greatly and have continued to use the morning meditation and afternoon questions. I look forward to next years and in the meantime I hope to start the suggested readings.

  2. I want to thank all the members of the Stoic Week team for their excelent work. Your suggested Stoic routine has helped me a lot in order to develop my own one. I enjoyed the week so much that I went to London only to take part in the Event. It was a pleasure to be there with all of you. You are doing an excellent Job. Congratulations!!!

  3. Patrick – I think this should be posted somewhere else, please transfer it if you want to.

    For me it was the most intense and amazing week, when life threw all kinds of challenges at me. Did I invite this? Was Providence testing me? In any case I was given endless opportunities to practise Stoic principles.

    There was a feeling that it was all planned: I heard the Stoic week mentioned on the Today programme at breakfast time and knew it was for me, so I signed up. I set out on the day holding in mind “What is in my power?” The choices I made brought up situations to reveal this. Choosing to wait 20 minutes for a bus rather than stay in an unpleasant atmosphere (Christmas shopping madness), I stood in the icy wind, trying to keep my mind on all the positives – the sunshine, the trees, the people – and countering the self-blame for the decision. At last I got home, to find we had a local power cut and the house was freezing. Quite clear that the situation was not under my control, so I made the best of it, retiring under a rug with a hot water bottle to read. But I couldn’t access the Stoic website until nearly 6 pm when power was restored. I managed to stay cheerful and very grateful to the engineers who came to fix it.

    Tuesday I also had to accept what was not in my control. Icy ground prevented me gardening, my tired body meant the other tasks I’d planned didn’t get done either. I reflected, however, how the theme of simplicity works alongside mindfulness, to save us time and energy. Also, to support us to eat simply and well.

    Wednesday was the day my boiler was declared defunct. Not under my control and a situation I had to adjust to very quickly. (“Nothing and no-one can harm me”). But what is interesting is that in my early morning meditation I had been thinking we are not only sorely tested by other people but also by technology, especially when it fails to do what we want. As our technical aids are not people, we have to develop a different kind of acceptance towards their failure. I resolved to watch my interactions with both people and technology, and compare my feelings. Then a little later I was told the boiler had to go. It was fine. I accepted what had to happen next. (Other people tried to put anxieties in my mind, about how I would cope. I stayed present, dealt with things as they arose.)

    I particularly valued Tuesday evening’s meditation subject: if you like something, do it more; if you want to strengthen a good habit, do it more etc. I had noticed that day with friends a tendency to label other people, which prevents me from seeing them fully. It’s often based on an idea that I know better. It would be a good one to try and stop.

    So I was three days in a freezing cold house with just a portable electric heater. When I noticed a grumble rising in my mind, I countered it with “It’s just like when I was a child. Freezing bathrooms were normal – we just did everything very quickly.” So Wednesday’s morning meditation to monitor our minds so that we only think constructive thoughts was already happening. Mindfulness (Wed. lunchtime) was also familiar to me, in different forms. Prosoche occurs in mystical Christianity in the Philokalia, and in Sufism and in the teachings of Gurdjieff; it’s a universal requirement for waking up! But in my experience it is always easiest in the early part of the day, before the inrush of outer impressions. Another opportunity to set up good habits.

    Friday saw the old boiler go and the new one unpacked. But I was out for much of the day. I tried to do the lunchtime exercise on anticipating a serious loss, but found it hard. I have anyway been thinking a lot recently about death and dying and facing my own death. What will be in my control then? Plenty there to reflect on.

    Saturday morning in my quiet time I already felt impelled to pray with affection for all those around me where I live, before accessing the Stoic material. Although I was out all day, the subject of the lunchtime meditation was also running in my mind (serving the community), as a result of a wonderful conversation the evening before. Saturday evening the new boiler was finally ready and working, but unfortunately technology had again deeply challenged me: the control unit for the new boiler seemed almost impossible to understand. I went to bed very tired and very anxious.

    Woke Sunday feeling somewhat more positive, and wondered whether I could see how my boiler came under the concept “The works of the Gods are full of Providence”. It does have essential goodness. Can I relate to that? Pulling my mind back from the pain and frustration of threatening technology (again!) I saw that what was really important was how to get the boiler to function economically, and in the way I needed. Yes! and the man to help with that was the installer. Believe it or not, he came and helped me on a Sunday morning!!

    Sunday lunchtime’s View from above was spot on. A wider view of everything, all those things that get to us, frustrate us, make us feel useless. One main niggle I have with the meditation, though, is that the view stays on the material plane. Yes, to the limits of the cosmos, but still the physical cosmos, not the causal worlds behind it. That’s what I as a Platonist would want to hear. The Stoics spoke of the Gods, didn’t they?

    There was so much more in my week that I haven’t mentioned, both helpful and unhelpful. Things I had set up and others I hadn’t. No wonder by Sunday 1st I had run out of steam physically, but was feeling enormously glad for the support of the daily Stoic material and the knowledge that I was part of a global project.

    Huge thanks to all who planned and delivered this week. I think it was brilliant!

  4. This week was very useful for me as I have been inspired to try new techniques and ‘upgraded’ my knowledge of Stoicism further. My ambition is to keep using this philosohpy in order to stimulate inner peace and outer effectiveness.

  5. Thank you very much for creating Stoic Week,. It’s been an amazing, far out experience. Well worth the effort. I hope to continue the exercises in my daily life and to brush up on the books and Ancient Stoics that you have recommended in the last pages of The Stoic Handbook 2013.

  6. Patrick – I have often turned to the Stoics during difficult times, but Stoic Week has deepened my interest in studying & applying Stoic philosophy to every day situations. The handbook is a valuable resource and I appreciate the recommendations of specific translations of texts to read next. Many thanks to you & everyone who planned & organized Stoic Week. I’m grateful that I could participate in this inspiring project from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

  7. I accidentally heard Stoic Week being discussed on the Radio earlier in the week. I have not followed the daily exercises (my mindset being unprepared) but I have found the online material fascinating and thought provoking. I have talked about it to friends and will definitely be reading more. So thank you Exeter Uni for this learning opportunity.

  8. Patrick,
    Sincere congratulations and best wishes to you and your team, and a heartfelt thank you for a truly rewarding experience of Stoicism this week. As a first year Logotherapy student I participated in a “Day with Marcus Aurelius” 2 weeks ago, so this has been a timely follow up in the continuation of my ongoing journey of Stoic development. I hope the London workshop yesterday was a huge success. I shall take this week’s valuable resources onwards far into the future.

  9. I have also found enriching inspiration in the famous Essays by Michel de Montaigne (16th Century) who somehow combined the stoicism, epicurism and scepticism. I recommend the book written by Sarah Bakewell ”How to live, or, A life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer” (2010).

    1. Spoštovani g. Pavliha,

      prebrala sem Vaš prispevek v Delu, v katerem ste omenili Teden stoicizma. Na podlagi navedenega sem prišla do omenjene spletne strani, prebrala priročnik za omenjeni teden ter zasledovala vse dogajanje v zvezi s tem. Res krasna izkušnja! V zadnji številki Sobotne priloge pa sem naletela na članek o esejih oz. knjigi Michela de Motaigne, ki naj bi te dni izšla v slovenščini. Knjiga vredna nakupa!

  10. The reflection and Audio Resource made me think about my reliance on people in other parts of the world, tea,coffee – food, clothes. The effects of global climate change the changes in the seasons, weather patterns where does my gas and electricity come from. It also made me think about the people who rely on me and the effect my death would have, I think the most powerful exercise that has come out of this really enriching and informative week is that of reflecting that if this is my last day – how would I change it. I am so glad I listened to Radio 4 on Monday and joined the Stoic Week. I intend to buy the books and continue to try to live as a Stoic. My heartfelt thanks to every member of the team behind the project. I won’t be able to fill in the questioner tonight but will do it first thing tomorrow – I hope that is ok.

    1. Thanks you Angela for this reflection – yes please fill in the questionnaires when you can. Very best, Patrick.

  11. While recovering from an operation in pain this week I have found the stoic precepts helptul in feeling less isolated and self pitying. I didnt register in time but have been reading the daily material. I hope the handbook stays available on the cloud. I intend to continue investigating stoicism.

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