Updates About The Season of Stoicism

We’re about midway through what we can call the “Season of Stoicism”. Covid-19 has forced nearly all of us into the online space this year – a good opportunity to practice the Stoic virtues of prudence, justice, courage, and temperance in practical action and planning – so almost all of the events scheduled this Fall are virtual.

The main Stoicon took place last Saturday, with the largest turnout ever. Moving from holding Stoicon in a physical location, where we could perhaps pack in as many as 400 people, to holding it virtually instead, allowed us to include over 1500 participants! Videos from the main Stoicon will be made available over the coming weeks, and you’ll be able to find them here.

We’re also nearing the end of Stoic Week itself. Today is day 6, and the course will be ending tomorrow. It’s still possible to enroll in the course and access the resources. If you’d like to so, you can do so here.

Several local Stoicon-X events have taken place, including Stoicon-X Alberta and Stoicon-X New England. Stoicon-X Midwest is taking just a little bit later on today, and Stoicon-X Brazil occurs tomorrow. All told, there are still seven Stoicon-X events you can participate in. Here’s information for each of those

Stoicon-X Midwest

Saturday, October 24, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Central Time. Organizer: Greg Sadler. Virtual event.

Speakers include Kai Whiting, Meredith Kunz, StoicDan, Matt Van Natta, Andi Sciacca, Greg Lopez, Kevin Smith, Gabriel Blott, Fred Arzola, and Piotr Stankiewicz. Conference includes talks, panel discussions, and lighting-round talks. Event is free. More information available at the Eventbrite page.

Stoicon-X Brazil

Sunday, October 25, 9:00 AM -7:00 PM Brasilia Time. Organizer: Claudia Torres. Virtual Event.

Speakers include Kelvio Santos, Dan Hayes, Greg Sadler, Mateus Carvlho, Joao Leite Ribeiro, Donald Robertson, Greg Lopez, Breno de Malgalhaes Bastos, Danilo Costa Leite, Alexandre Pires, Donato Ferrara, Kai Whiting, Rafael Rodriges Peraira, Eduardo Boechat, Aldo Dinucci. Event is free. More information available at the Eventbrite page.

Stoicon-X Moscow

Saturday, October 31, 8:00 PM Moscow Time, held at the bookstore Falanster. Organizer:  Stanislav Naranovich. This is an in-person event.

Speakers include: Olga Alieva, Kirill Martynov, Viktor Zatsepin, and Stanislav Naranovich Conference includes talks and a presentation of the Russian translation of A Guide to the Good Life. More information available at the Facebook event page.

Stoicon-X Stoic Salon

Sunday, November 1, 2020 at 4:00 – 8:00 PM Glasgow/London Time. Organizer: Kathryn Koromilas. Virtual event.

Speakers include: Donald Robertson, John Sellars, Andi Sciacca, and David Fideler. The event includes talks, panel discussions journaling exercises, and an invitation to participate in a 28-day journaling/writing challenge. More information available at the Stoic Salon page.

Stoicon-X Australia

Friday, November 6, 6:00-8:00 PM – Saturday, November 7, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM – Sunday, November 8 10:00 AM-1:30 PM , Australian Time (precise details about time-zone coming soon). Organizer: Sharline Mohan. Virtual Event.

This event spans an entire weekend, and includes talks, panel discussions, breakout chats, and workshops. Speakers include Ashley McCole, Matteo Stettler, David Moss, Shannon Murray, Simon Drew, Sharline Mohan, Sarah Lawrence, and Judith Stove. More information available at the Brisbane Stoics Meetup event page.

Stoicon-X Los Angeles

Saturday, November 14, 10 AM – 2 PM. Organizer: Justin Kitchen. Virtual event.

Speakers include Greg Lopez, Matt Gomez, Kiko Suura, Juan Torres, Quinnie Lin, Lillian Doyle, Corey Moore, Justin Kitchen. More information available at the event page.

Stoicon-X Orlando

Saturday, November 21, 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM Eastern Time. Organized by StoicDan. Virtual event.

Speakers include Donald Robertson, Brittany Polat, Tim Iverson, and StoicDan (Florida). The conference includes talks, a walk-through of the Painted Porch, and a drawing for free Stoic books at the end of the event. More information available at the Meetup page for the event.

Podcast #15: Ben Aldridge, Anxiety, Premeditation, and Voluntary Discomfort

In this episode, we speak to Ben Aldridge about anxiety, premeditation, and voluntary discomfort.

Ben Aldridge is the author of  How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable: 43 Weird & Wonderful Ways to Build a Strong Resilient Mindset. Ben’s challenges encourage getting uncomfortable and experiencing personal growth.

You can learn more at his website, and find him on Instagram and Twitter

Also, our friends at Classical Wisdom will be hosting their inaugural online Symposium this weekend -October 24 and 25 – which will feature a number of prominent Stoics, including Donald Robertson, James S. Romm, Massimo Pigliucci and A.A. Long. 

In fact, on Sunday there will be a panel discussion on the power the individual has in politics which will bring together Donald, Massimo and A.A. Long for the very first time.

Modern Stoicism fans can also enjoy a 70% discount on any tickets with the code: STOIC. 

Please go to Classicalwisdom.com/symposium or email info@classicalwisdom.com for more details… Just remember, it is taking place This weekend, so make sure to check it out while tickets last.

Leave us a comment below, about what you think about the podcast!

Interview with STOICON 2020 Speakers – Christopher Gill

Professor Christopher Gill | Classics and Ancient History | University of  Exeter

We finish our series of interviews with the speakers for the upcoming STOICON, which takes place virtually starting just a bit later on today!  Registration is now closed, but here is the link where you can view the schedule of events. Our final interview is with Christopher Gill.

As a side-note, don’t forget that STOIC WEEK starts this coming Monday. You can enroll in the 2020 Stoic Week course here.

Stoic Week is a free online course based on ideas and practices drawn from the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. Modern Stoicism has been running Stoic Week since 2012.  Thousands of people have reported increases in understanding of Stoicism and well-being after participation. This year the theme is “Stoicism during a Pandemic”. No previous experience is required, but we do recommend you devote about 30 minutes each day to Stoic practice during Stoic Week.

How would you introduce yourself and your work to our readers?

I’ve been a university teacher and researcher on ancient philosophy, including Stoicism, for many years. I’m now retired but still very actively involved in writing on Stoicism and presenting Stoic principles as a basis for life-guidance. Along with several others in the Modern Stoicism movement, I was closely involved in starting Stoic Week, the blog ‘Stoicism Today’, and the annual ‘Stoicon’ conference in 2012-13. I’ve been especially concerned with helping to write the Stoic Week handbook and with setting up Modern Stoicism as an organization. I’m really pleased that these and other Stoic activities have become so well-established and that so many people across the world find them a valuable part of their lives.

How do you currently make use of Stoicism in your work?

I’m currently writing a book on the central ideas of Stoic ethics and their significance for modern moral philosophy. Although Stoicism has a big following today as a basis for life-guidance, it doesn’t have the same importance among those working on modern moral theory, and I’m trying to bring Stoic ethics more fully into that debate. Previously, I’ve written more about specific Stoic thinkers, especially Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, and their interpretations of Stoicism. For instance, I wrote the introduction and notes for the Oxford World’s Classics translations of Epictetus and Marcus.

When and how did you first become interested in Stoicism?

Although I’ve known about Stoic philosophy since I was a student, I only gradually realized its significance for modern thought and life, mainly through teaching Stoicism alongside other ancient philosophies in a third-year university course on Greek and Roman ethics that I taught for several years. I found that Stoic ideas struck a chord with me and the students in a way that was not so much the case with Aristotle, and the Epicureans, for instance. This paved the way for my involvement in the applied Stoicism movement towards the end of my career in university teaching.

What’s the most important aspect of Stoicism to you?

Three Stoic ideas strike as especially important. One is that happiness depends not on health, property, or even the welfare of our loved ones, though these things have real value and importance, but on developing the virtues (wisdom, courage, justice, and self-control) and making these central to our lives. Another is the belief that all human beings are fundamentally motivated to take care of themselves and others of their kind, and that the best way to do this is to develop towards virtue and virtue-based happiness. Also, all human beings are fundamentally capable of doing this, whatever their social and educational background or their individual differences of character and failings. Thirdly, there is the idea that human beings form an integral part of nature as a whole and that we should work to build into our own character and life the order and wholeness that is part of nature. (I think this idea can be very helpful to us in trying to live in a more environmentally sustainable way.) All three ideas are very profound and have many implications at the philosophical and practical level. 

In what ways do you think Stoicism still matters today?

I think Stoicism matters today because it is a deep and complex philosophical framework, which was worked out by different thinkers over five centuries in the ancient world and thought about for another two thousand years since then. But there are some specific ways it can speak to us now. The appeal to fundamental ideas about human nature and values can serve as a powerful alternative to some strong currents today, including a focus on narrow commercial or economic value and the fascination with what is ‘now now’ and big in social media. I think the Stoic idea that all human beings are, essentially brothers or sisters and fellow-citizens is a powerful antidote to some modern forms of xenophobia and exclusionism. And as mentioned earlier (in 4), I believe that the Stoic view that human beings form an integral part of nature as a whole can give a broader philosophical basis for trying to live a more environmentally sustainable life.

How has Stoicism affected the way you live your life?

Stoicism has helped me to try to connect more closely theories and ideals and the way I live each day. It has helped me respond with more resilience to serious difficulties, such as the death of my wife ten years ago (she was twelve years younger than me and we had four sons together). I asked myself: ‘what is the use of studying all these philosophical ideas if you cannot draw on them at tough times?

What’s one of your favourite Stoic quotations and why?

Well, how about this one from Marcus Aurelius, relevant to the point I’ve just made:

‘Be like the headland, on which the waves break constantly, which stands firm, while the foaming waters are put to rest about it. “It is my bad luck that this has happened to me”. On the contrary,  say, “It is my good luck that, although this has happened to me, I can bear it without getting upset, neither crushed by the present nor afraid of the future … Surely what has happened cannot prevent you from being just, high-minded, self-controlled, thoughtful, self-respecting, free, and the other qualities whose presence enables human nature to maintain its character”’. (Meditations 4.49)

And here’s another from Marcus:

‘Whenever you want to cheer yourself up, think of the good qualities of those who live with you: such as the energy of one, the decency of another, the generosity of another … There is nothing so cheering as the images of the virtues displayed in the characters of those who live with you, and grouped together as far as possible. So you should keep them ready at hand’. (Meditations 6.48)

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about Stoicism?

First of all, follow ‘Stoic week’ (Oct 19-25 this year), and the Stoic Mindfulness and Resilience Training Course, when this is run next (keep an eye on the website: http://modernstoicism.com). Then, read one of a number of really helpful books on living a Stoic life, such as John Sellars, Lessons in Stoicism, Donald Robertson’s Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, or Massimo Pigliucci’s How to be a Stoic. Then read Epictetus’s Discourses and Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations (you may find the Oxford World’s Classics translations helpful). Cicero’s On Duties (sometimes called On Obligations) is also a useful guide to Stoic ethics.

Do you have anything else that you wanted to mention while we have the chance?

I think I would stress that Stoic ethics aren’t just a pathway to personal tranquillity and self-therapy (though they can be that). They also provide a framework for living an active and engaged social life; in the ancient world this was the side of Stoic ethics that was most often stressed. Care for yourself and care for others were seen as the two core human motives, and ones that are not in competition with each other.

Last Chance: Stoicon 2020 Virtual Conference

Tomorrow, Saturday 17th Oct, is Stoicon 2020, the 8th international Modern Stoicism conference. We originally had a limit of 1,000 attendees but have managed to extend our capacity by creating an overflow feature. So we’re now anticipating over 1,500 attendees, making this the largest Stoicism conference ever.

Ticket price is by donation – you choose the amount. We have 24 speakers in total, including some well-known authors and academics. See the event listing for full program details. Our keynote this year is from William B. Irvine, author of A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.

Don’t worry if you’re in a different time zone or can’t make the whole event for some other reason. All presentations will be recorded and available afterwards to registered attendees to watch at your leisure.

Book now to avoid missing out. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Interview with STOICON 2020 Speakers – Andi Sciacca

We continue our series of interviews with the speakers for the upcoming virtual STOICON 2020, with our last mid-week post, this one with Andi Sciacca. STOICON is coming up this Saturday, and you can see the schedule here.

How would you introduce yourself and your work to our readers?

I like to think of myself as an advocate for access, education, and equity – and a proud #MKEpreneur.  I’m currently leading the development of The MKE Food School – a center for learning, innovation, community-building, and resource-sharing, working to create the space for an inspired and inclusive conversation around Milwaukee’s community table.  I also teach for the Milwaukee Institute of Art + Design and lead the graduate curriculum for the Food Business School of The Culinary Institute of America.  I am most fulfilled when I can help others leverage learning opportunities in ways that help them connect and flourish.

How do you currently make use of Stoicism in your work?

As a person who does a great deal of work in leadership and board positions, I find that there are plenty of opportunities to practice Stoicism in my work.  Most often, my application of Stoicism in workplace environments is evidenced through the act of reminding myself of what we find in Epictetus, Enchiridion, 17: 

Remember that you are an actor in a drama, of such a kind as the author pleases to make it. If short, of a short one; if long, of a long one. If it is his pleasure you should act a poor man, a cripple, a governor, or a private person, see that you act it naturally. For this is your business, to act well the character assigned you; to choose it is another’s.


So often, in workplace environments, especially when stressors can be high and our efforts can feel out of balance, we see ourselves as independent operators with identities that are our own, or roles / privileges / titles we need to defend and protect.  When this occurs, we can be quick to forget or criticize the goals or even be resentful of the group / team.  As a person who is self-employed and engages in a good deal of contract and freelance work, when I find myself struggling with operational models that are externally enforced, I call on this quote to remind myself that today I might be a governor – and tomorrow a private person – and the next day, wear the cloak of the poor – so the best thing I can do is be accepting of what comes my way and focus on acting the part required of me for that project or that task.  This doesn’t mean I surrender all agency or take the approach of apathy – it means that I act as needed while trusting the ability to choose indifference

When and how did you first become interested in Stoicism?

My first introduction to Stoicism was as a member of my high school’s academic decathlon team in the mid-1980s.  We had passages from Epictetus in our study packs, and I remember being drawn to them – especially given the intellectual stress of that preparatory process – while sensing that there was something for me to study and learn that went far beyond the decathlon experience.  Then, as an undergraduate, I worked on translations from Cicero as part of a Latin course, and I again felt like there was a resonance in what I was reading and struggling to translate.  However, I didn’t pursue anything further as a course of philosophical investigation until I was introduced to Donald Robertson’s Stoic Mindfulness & Resilience Training course five or six years ago.  It was then that I really found my “home” in Stoicism and now, I look forward to Stoicon, Stoicon-X, Stoic Week, and the SMRT course every year – and find new reasons and new resonances each time.

What’s the most important aspect of Stoicism to you?

The most important aspect for me is found in the constancy and the solidness of regular study coupled with the application of what I am learning through that practice.  Whether I’m reading Marcus Aurelius, or Epictetus, or reviewing a comment from someone in SMRT, or a post on Stoicism Today written by someone applying Stoicism to their lives – whatever the source, there is an undercurrent of substance that steadies me.  I’ve found that the study of Stoicism and the ways in which it has helped me understand the pursuit of a good life and the willingness to accept what that life brings actually creates a sense of comfort and connection that my previous habits of trying to control everything – or spending all of my time directing externally-focused emotional traffic – did not afford.     

In what ways do you think Stoicism still matters today?

I believe that one of the most significant ways we know that Stoicism matters today can be found in the evidence we see of ways that we can choose to approach the impact of the kinds of issues we are grappling with as a global community.  From the devastating effects of the pandemic – to a fractured social fabric and collective outcry over responses to issues of access and equity – any kind of study or practice that encourages us to focus on what is within our control actually gifts us a unique kind of agency.  Again, returning to Epictetus, within us, we find our destruction and our deliverance.  When we acknowledge that we have the ability to frame our understanding of things that are outside of our control within a larger way of being connected to the world, we can focus on the pieces we can control and we can choose to act with the goal of making the good life more accessible for others and for ourselves.

As Marcus Aurelius says in his Meditations:

Your ability to control your thoughts—treat it with respect. It’s all that protects your mind from false perceptions—false to your nature, and that of all rational beings. It’s what makes thoughtfulness possible, and affection for other people, and submission to the divine.

How has Stoicism affected the way you live your life?

With each new investigation and exploration, I have been challenged to work on so many of the ills of modern personhood.  I’ve become more compassionate, more genuinely engaged, less judgemental, less prone to overreaction, and less likely to take things personally than at any point in my life prior.  I’ve learned the incredible value of the concept of indifference and preferred indifference and find myself modeling a more generous way of being in the world with others.  I’m less convinced of my own “right” to something and more collaborative and comfortable in being one of many working for a common goal.  I am only at the beginning, still, even after five years of working at it – but I am so much further along than I was when I started and look forward to continuing to practice the kinds of skills and tools that have helped me thus far.

What’s one of your favourite Stoic quotations and why?

One of the Stoic quotations that has been guiding me most lately – especially given the extra time to work and reflect on my desires for personal growth – would be from Enchiridion 13:

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things. Don’t wish to be thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself. For, it is difficult to both keep your faculty of choice in a state conformable to nature, and at the same time acquire external things. But while you are careful about the one, you must of necessity neglect the other.

I find, at this point of my life, that I am drilling down to the essential and working at making my life into something more productive and more conformable to nature – less connected to externals (whether possessions or the opinions of others) – and more based on seeking to live a good life.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about Stoicism?

While it is always wise to go to the source and read the works from the classic Stoic thinkers, there are so many supportive communities a person might engage in – including social media groups on FaceBook, local and virtual chapters of The Stoic Fellowship, and even simple conversations with others.

Do you have anything else that you wanted to mention while we have the chance?

If a bit of promotion is allowed, I will say that I am pleased to be able to contribute to three Stoic-connected events this year, and they are as follows:

  • Stoicon 2020 – October 17, 2020 – presenting on the topic of The Stoic Heart: Stoicism and Relationships
  • Stoicon-X Midwest 2020 – October 24, 2020 – participating in a panel on Organizing Stoic Meetups and Groups Panel: Tips, Best Practices, and Experiences – Moderated by Greg Sadler
  • Stoic Salon – November 4 – a Stoicon-X event – presenting on the topic of Stoic journaling

I would also encourage anyone reading this to register for Stoic Week 2020 – beginning on October 19th. 

Interview with STOICON 2020 Speakers – Greg Lopez

The Science Factory – Gregory Lopez

We continue our series of interviews with the speakers for the upcoming virtual STOICON, which will be taking place virtually this year on October 17. Here is the link where you can register and view the schedule of events. Our next interview is with Greg Lopez

How would you introduce yourself and your work to our readers?

I’m the founder of the New York City Stoics, co-founder and board member of The Stoic Fellowship, co-facilitator of Stoic Camp New York, co-author of A Handbook for New Stoics, and am on the Modern Stoicism team.

How do you currently make use of Stoicism in your work?

That depends on what you mean by the question! Stoicism and philosophy is not my main jam. I’m currently a lead editor for Examine.com, a website that provides unbiased information about the evidence base for nutrition and supplementation. I also do some data science work and run online experiments for Spark Wave to improve people’s psychological well being. So, if the question’s about my day jobs, I make use of Stoicism as a personal practice to stay focused while attempting to help others.

But if the question’s about my Stoicism-specific work, I’d say that I have a few main goals. One is to help myself learn Stoicism by facilitating the New York City Stoics practice and reading groups. My main reason for starting the NYC Stoics in 2013 wasn’t because I knew much about Stoicism, but because I knew I’d learn better if I had to facilitate a group on it! 

Another reason I started the NYC Stoics is that I find in-person interaction to be rewarding, and I wanted to meet more people who were into Stoicism. This idea influenced my decision to co-found The Stoic Fellowship with James Kostecka and Nick Guggenbuehl. The main goal of The Stoic Fellowship is to help Stoic groups around the world grow and connect with each other. 

The final way I use Stoicism in my Stoic-related work is to try to make it more practical, practicable, and clear. That’s the aim of the projects I’ve worked on with my friend and collaborator, Massimo Pigliucci: Stoic Camp New York and A Handbook for New Stoics.

When and how did you first become interested in Stoicism?

Over a decade ago, I started volunteering for, and ultimately became president of, an organization that taught techniques from one of the first forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) — Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). There, I learned that Stoicism heavily influenced REBT and CBT, and became interested in learning more about it. After some more exploration, I found out that people were looking to practice Stoicism in the modern world, such as The New Stoa and The International Stoic Forum. While I found these groups edifying and interesting, I had more of an interest in learning and talking with other aspiring Stoics in person, which led me to start the NYC Stoics.

What’s the most important aspect of Stoicism to you? 

Epictetus’ Discipline of Action. Too many people think that Stoicism’s a life hack to improve resilience and feel better. In Epictetus’ three-phase training system, that’s only the first step, though! The big reason Epictetus cares about reducing people’s passions (the subset of emotions that hamper reasoning) isn’t that they feel bad, and I doubt he’d want Stoicism to foster resilience in a vacuum (who wants a world filled with resilient assholes?). Instead, the reason to temper one’s passions is to become a better human being. Passions get in the way of that by pushing reason to the side and making us not truly care about other people. By tempering passions, Epictetus would claim you literally become more human. The only reason to become more resilient in Stoicism is to pave the way for becoming a better human being. 

In what ways do you think Stoicism still matters today?

I think having a philosophy of life is really important for most, if not all, people. Thus, the primary way Stoicism matters today is as a philosophy of life.

As Bill Irvine eloquently explains in his introduction to A Guide to the Good Life, if you don’t have a philosophy of life, “there is a danger that you will mislive—that despite all your activity, despite all the pleasant diversions you might have enjoyed while alive, you will end up living a bad life.”

There are many philosophies of life, and I’m not sure I agree with the underlying premise of many Hellenistic philosophies that there’s a single “right” way to live based on living according to nature and pursuing The One Supreme Good. But I do agree with the notion that having a somewhat coherent philosophy of life is pretty important.

How has Stoicism affected the way you live your life?

In two ways, both associated with Epictetus’ Discipline of Action. The first is that it encourages me to be more helpful to other people and take more action in the world than I may otherwise. This matters to me because I buy the Stoic argument that humans do best when we try to cooperate.  Second, it helps me remember that I share the flaws I see in other people, which helps me focus more on improving myself rather than judging others.

What’s one of your favourite Stoic quotations and why?

A quote from Seneca from Letter 71 since it nicely summarizes my thoughts on why a philosophy of life is essential, and sometimes helps me take the bigger picture into account: “The reason we make mistakes is because we all consider the parts of life, but never life as a whole… When someone does not know what harbor they are aiming for, no wind is the right wind.” 

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about Stoicism?

 Marcus and Epictetus’ Handbook are common starting places for many people since they want to read the original texts, and those two works have lots of pithy, quotable lines. But because they’re so pithy, they’re also easily misunderstood. I suggest starting with a strong modern summary instead. That way, you can dive into the primary texts with a bit more understanding of Stoicism as a broad, coherent philosophy of life as opposed to a set of catchy quotes and easy life hacks.

Also, Stoicism is currently the “default” Hellenistic philosophy for many people since it’s the one talked about the most. If you’re interested in Stoicism because you’re attracted to practical life philosophies, I encourage you to “shop around” a bit by looking at other philosophies of life. By reading a bit more widely to start with, you’ll learn some interesting things about Stoicism (for instance, there’s some evidence in Book 3 of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations that the Stoics didn’t invent the famous premeditation of adversity exercise, but it may have actually been the hedonistic Cyrenaics!) and also get a better understanding of what different philosophies of life work. While Hellenistic philosophies themselves have a lot to offer, looking at modern philosophies like existentialism and older ones like the various forms of Buddhism may also be of interest.

But as a final tip: once you read enough, choose one philosophy and actually practice it. Reading a bunch of texts without actually trying to practice their espoused philosophies could make your ship of life rudderless.

Do you have anything else that you wanted to mention while we have the chance?

If you want to reach out to me, the best way is through my barebones personal website. You could also follow me on Twitter or reach out to me on LinkedIn, but I’m not active on social media, partly due to social media aversion. As a Stoic exercise, I’m aiming to be a bit more active on social media, so if I announce it publicly, maybe I’ll actually be more motivated to do so!

Podcast #14: Mick Mulroy, Philosopher Kings, Ethics, and Wisdom

In this episode, we talk with Mick Mulroy about philosopher kings, ethics, and wisdom.

Mick is the co-founder of Lobo Institute, a private firm consulting, advising, and teaching on current and future conflicts. Mulroy is a former United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, a retired Central Intelligence Agency Paramilitary Operations Officer, and United States Marine. In addition, he is a Senior Fellow for National Security and Defense Policy at the Middle East Institute, and an ABC News National Security Analyst.

Mick is also on the board of directors at the Grassroots Reconciliation Group, an award-winning nonprofit that works to rehabilitate children that have been forced to fight in the Lord’s Resistance Army in East Africa. He is also the co-founder of the Lobo Institute, a group that studies conflicts and how to end them, and the co-founder of the charity End Child Soldiering, that seeks to help rehabilitate former child soldiers worldwide.

Leave a comment for us down below about the podcast you’ve heard today!

Interview with STOICON 2020 Speakers – Chuck Chakrapani

Chuck Chakrapani - Wikipedia

We continue our series of interviews with the speakers for the upcoming virtual STOICON 2020, with a mid-week post (we’ve got a lot of speakers, so we’ll be publishing these on both Saturdays and Wednesdays for a bit!), this one with Chuck Chakrapani

How would you introduce yourself and your work to our readers?

You can approach Stoicism from many perspectives: as a scholar whose aim it is to understand and explain the nuances of the philosophy, an academic whose aim it is to teach others, as a professional helper such as a therapist whose aim it is to find what would help others, or as a dabbler with no special interest in Stoicism.

I come to Stoicism with the question, “What is this for?” It’s a eudemonic philosophy, and its aim to achieve happiness, the good life. So, the parts I am truly interested in are those that will help me and others to live a more effective life.

How do you currently make use of Stoicism in your work?

My work at the moment is bringing applied aspects of Stoicism to anyone who can benefit from it. For this purpose, I edit and publish a monthly digital magazine, THE STOIC, which is entirely free. Because many of the ancient Stoic works are translated in terse prose, it is difficult for modern readers to follow. So, I have been re-expressing ancient Stoic classics in modern and plain English. I have written a dozen of such books and more to come. Most of it can be read for free on my website thestoicgym.com. I have also been writing books such as Unshakable Freedom and How to be a Stoic When You Don’t Know How to. The aim of these books is to make Stoicism relevant to the times we live in with modern examples and applications. All my current work has one purpose: to make ancient Stoicism accessible to anyone who can potentially benefit from them

When and how did you first become interested in Stoicism?

I accidentally came upon To Himself (more widely known now as Meditations) by Marcus Aurelius when I was still in my teens and became interested in his philosophy. It was much later that I realized that it was a philosophy called Stoicism.

What’s the most important aspect of Stoicism to you? 

The most important aspect of Stoicism is breathtakingly simple. Some things in life are under our control, and others are not. We can achieve the good life by simply working on what’s under our control. Nothing can stop us. It is not some nonsensical motivational stuff, but a profound meditation on why we are unhappy and troubled.

In what ways do you think Stoicism still matters today?

Practically all primary sources of Stoicism are of the Roman era – in particular, the first the first 150 years, CE. This period saw cruel and blood-thirsty emperors like Caligula, Nero, Tiberius, and Domitian. Arbitrary exiles and executions were common. Although Stoicism is a philosophy of happiness, the main concern at that time was how to cope with what was happening and still thrive.

We have a comparable situation today. The pandemic, the rise of dictatorial regimes around the world, extremes of opinions supported by endless conspiracy theories – taken together, our times are as unsettling as the first two centuries.

The Stoic philosophy showed a way out then. It does now as well.

How has Stoicism affected the way you live your life?

Stoicism illumines my path when I lose it. “Some things are up to us, and others are not” is the North Star that guides me in times of trouble.

What’s one of your favourite Stoic quotations, and why?

“Some things are up to, and others are not.” Why? You can scour one hundred volumes on philosophy without ever coming across a more profound and life-changing idea than that.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about Stoicism?

Read Epictetus’ Manual (Enchiridion). It will take less than two hours. If you like it, read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. If you are not profoundly affected by either of them, then forget about Stoicism. It is not your way.

Do you have anything else that you wanted to mention while we have the chance?

Yes. Remember what Seneca said: “Above all, learn to feel the joy.”

STOICON-X Events Coming Up Worldwide

As many of you know already, Stoic Week is coming up next month, running from Monday, October 18 to Sunday, October 25. The Stoic Week course is now open for enrollment here. The main Stoicon conference will be taking place virtually on Saturday, October 17.

In addition to that event, there is an entire season of Stoic events ahead, available virtually, called Stoicon-Xs. These were originally smaller local events for those who could not make it to the main Stoicon (or who wanted a bit more after the main Stoicon in the same city where it was hosted). In this year of pandemic, like Stoicon itself, the Stoicon-Xs have gone virtual (with the exception of the , and that means that they offer much wider access than the local in-person events.

The first of these Stoicon-X events has already taken place. That was Stoicon-X New York, earlier this month. If you missed it, you can still watch videos of the talks provided by Donald Robertson and Brian Johnson.

We have, by my count, eight more Stoicon-X events lined up in October and November (including one later today), so you might want to clear some space on your calendar.

Each of the events has a page with more information, so feel free to check them out. Then you can see the event schedule, activities, and all the other particulars. These all look like great Stoicon-X events!

Stoicon-X Alberta

Saturday, October 3, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Mountain Time. Organizer: Jeff Rout.

Speakers include Korey Samuelson, Deena & Tim Mills, Jean-Luc Deschênes, Dan Ripley, and Jeff Rout. More information available at the Facebook event page. Event is free.

Stoicon X New England

Saturday, October 10, 12:00 PM -6:00 PM Eastern Time. Organizer: Pete Fagella. Virtual event.

Speakers include Donald Robertson,  Marc Deshaies, Pete Fagella, Zeph Chang, Michael Maune, and Greg Sadler. Conference includes talks and journaling activities. Event costs $15-20. More information available at the Eventbrite page.

Stoicon-X Midwest

Saturday, October 24, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Central Time. Organizer: Greg Sadler. Virtual event.

Speakers include Kai Whiting, Meredith Kunz, StoicDan, Matt Van Natta, Andi Sciacca, Greg Lopez, Kevin Smith, Gabriel Blott, Fred Arzola, and Piotr Stankiewicz. Conference includes talks, panel discussions, and lighting-round talks. Event is free. More information available at the Eventbrite page.

Stoicon-X Brazil

Sunday, October 25, 9:00 AM -7:00 PM Brasilia Time. Organizer: Claudia Torres. Virtual Event.

Speakers include Kelvio Santos, Dan Hayes, Greg Sadler, Mateus Carvlho, Joao Leite Ribeiro, Donald Robertson, Greg Lopez, Breno de Malgalhaes Bastos, Danilo Costa Leite, Alexandre Pires, Donato Ferrara, Kai Whiting, Rafael Rodriges Peraira, Eduardo Boechat, Aldo Dinucci. Event is free. More information available at the Eventbrite page.

Stoicon-X Moscow

Saturday, October 31, 8:00 PM Moscow Time, held at the bookstore Falanster. Organizer:  Stanislav Naranovich. This is an in-person event.

Speakers include: Olga Alieva, Kirill Martynov, Viktor Zatsepin, and Stanislav Naranovich Conference includes talks and a presentation of the Russian translation of A Guide to the Good Life. More information available at the Facebook event page.

Stoicon-X Stoic Salon

Sunday, November 1, 2020 at 4:00 – 8:00 PM Glasgow/London Time. Organizer: Kathryn Koromilas. Virtual event.

Speakers include: Donald Robertson, John Sellars, Andi Sciacca, and David Fideler. The event includes talks, panel discussions journaling exercises, and an invitation to participate in a 28-day journaling/writing challenge. More information available at the Stoic Salon page.

Stoicon-X Australia

Friday, November 6, 6:00-8:00 PM – Saturday, November 7, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM – Sunday, November 8 10:00 AM-1:30 PM , Australian Time (precise details about time-zone coming soon). Organizer: Sharline Mohan. Virtual Event.

This event spans an entire weekend, and includes talks, panel discussions, breakout chats, and workshops. Speakers include Ashley McCole, Matteo Stettler, David Moss, Shannon Murray, Simon Drew, Sharline Mohan, Sarah Lawrence, and Judith Stove. More information available at the Brisbane Stoics Meetup event page.

Stoicon-X Los Angeles

Saturday, November 14, 10 AM – 2 PM. Organizer: Justin Kitchen. Virtual event.

Speakers include Greg Lopez, Matt Gomez, Kiko Suura, Juan Torres, Quinnie Lin, Lillian Doyle, Corey Moore, Justin Kitchen. More information available at the event page.

Stoicon-X Orlando

Saturday, November 21, 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM Eastern Time. Organized by StoicDan. Virtual event.

Speakers include Donald Robertson, Brittany Polat, Tim Iverson, and StoicDan (Florida). The conference includes talks, a walk-through of the Painted Porch, and a drawing for free Stoic books at the end of the event. More information available at the Meetup page for the event.