'Does Stoicism make you Happier?' by Tim LeBon

Does Stoicism make you Happier?

by Tim LeBon

We might well envy the Romans for being able to attend Epictetus’ lectures and having a ruler as wise as Marcus Aurelius. But we have at least one advantage over them – the internet.  Modern technology enables the Stoicism Today project to connect thousands of people and carry out large-scale research on Stoicism and its effectiveness.  In November 2015 over two and a half thousand participants filled in questionnaires at the start of Stoic Week asking them 31 questions relating to their level of Stoicism and 25 questions about their well-being. By using statistical analysis (another innovation not available to the ancients) we can infer whether being Stoic is associated with well-being – or not. Furthermore we can start to tell which Stoic attitudes and behaviours appear to be the most “active ingredients”

You can read the full report here. Here are some headlines:

  • The vast majority of Stoic attitudes and behaviours are strongly associated with well-being.  This is true however you measure well-being – whether as satisfaction with life, flourishing, or the balance of positive over negative emotions
  • The Stoic attitudes and behaviours most strongly associated with well-being include the cardinal virtues (self-control, practical wisdom, courage and justice), Stoic mindfulness and cognitive distancing.  You can see how each of the 31 items fared here.
  • Some (but not all) plausible anti-Stoic attitudes turn out to be negatively associated with well-being.
  • We asked some experts on Stoicism for their predictions as to which items would be the most “active ingredients”. Although their predictions were generally good, the connection between well-being and the cardinal virtues was significantly under-estimated.

These findings need to be qualified in a number of ways. Participants were self-selecting, correlation does not imply causation, and the questionnaire we have developed to measure levels of Stoicism (the SABS scale) requires further psychometric validation. Further research is clearly needed,  yet taken with the other findings from Stoic Week – including the fact that doing Stoic Week increases well-being for most participants– the indications all point towards Stoicism making you happier.

The fourth and final report from Stoic Week will appear on this site in a few weeks time.

Tim LeBon is a BABCP accredited CBT psychoptherapist and UKCP registered existential therapist, an APPA and SPP registered philosophical counsellor and is also trained as a life coach and integrative counsellor. He is a past Chair of the Society for Philosophy in Practice (SPP) and the founding editor of Practical Philosophy. He is  the author of Wise Therapy (Sage, 2001) and Achieve your Potential with Positive Psychology (Hodder Teach Yourself Books, 2014). You can read more about Tim’s work on his blog, Socrates Satisfied, and his website.

Save the Date – Stoicon 2016 In New York City!

Save the Date – Stoicon 2016 In New York City!

For the first time, Stoicon is moving across the Atlantic!  This fourth annual conference that brings together experts on Stoicism – providing talks, workshops, and conversation – will be hosted in New York City (place TBA at present) on Saturday, October 15.

Massimo Pigliucci, Gregory Lopez, and Amy Valladares are presently at work to organize and finalize the details for what promises to be an engaging and productive Stoicon 2016.

Ryan Holiday will deliver the keynote address for the conference.  The roster of speakers providing a variety of other talks and workshops so far includes Cinzia Arruzza, Gabriele Galluzzo, Christopher Gill, William Irvine, Gregory Lopez, Massimo Pigliucci, Donald Robertson, and Greg Sadler.

The Stoicon talks and workshops are geared towards the general public interested in understanding and applying Stoicism in the context of modern life.  For more information at the present time, click here.  We’ll be posting much more about the conference here in Stoicism Today in the months to come.

There’s plenty of time to plan for Stoic Week and Stoicon 2016, so mark October 15 on your calendar, and get ready to get your Stoic On!

Stoic Week 2015 – The Results (Part 2)

Stoic Week 2015 Report Part 2: Impact on well-being

by Tim LeBon

This report forms the second part of the report on Stoic Week 2015, which took place in first week of  November. The previously published part 1 reported on the  demographics, part 3  will provide an analysis of the association between well-being and Stoic Attitudes and Behaviours (SABS scale analysis) and  part 4 will provide an analysis  of qualitative feedback.

Over two and a half thousand participants took three established well-being questionnaires as well as the Stoic Attitudes and Behaviours scale. Well-being was measured before and after Stoic Week, allowing us to assess the impact of doing Stoic Week on self-reports on well-being.

Click here to download the PDF of the full report 

 

Post Stoic Week 2015 Questionnaires

Post Stoic Week 2015 Questionnaires

For all those who participate in Stoic Week 2015, here is a link to the post Stoic Week Questionnaires, as constructed by Tim LeBon:

Stoic Week 2015: Post-Week Questionnaires

You will have reached the end of the questionnaire when you see a screen totalling your scores. Also, please use the same email address or pseudonym that you used when you took the pre Stoic Week Questionnaires.

Please take the time to fill this out, even if you haven’t been able to devote lots of time to Stoic Week. The results are extremely helpful for us, and we would really appreciate every filled out form.

The Stoicism Today Team

Stoic Week 2015 Demographics Report

Stoic  Week 2015 Demographics Report 

by Tim LeBon

Thank you all for completing the preliminary questionnaires. We had a massive 2503 valid completed questionnaires – an increase of about 66% over 2014.

In  a sentence: the  typical Stoic week follower is an American male aged between 26 and 35 who has never participated in Stoic week before and knows a bit about Stoicism (not a complete novice).

In more depth:

  • The ratio of males to females is 65% to 35%
  • There is an upside down U distribution of ages, with it peaking at 26-35 closed followed by 36-45
  • Over 41% of respondents are from USA, but in terms of per capita Canada is top (well done Donald!) and then the UK. There is scope for much more uptake in Asia, Africa and South America.
  • The majority of respondents have never participated in Stoic week before, about 22% have participated before
  • There is an upside-down U distribution of self-rated knowledge of Stoicism, with “know a bit about Stoicism” being most frequent.

Here are 5 tables summarising all the facts and figures.

Table 1: Stoic Week 2015 by gender

Gender

Total

%

Male 1616 64.6
Female 868 34.7
didn’t say 19 0.8

Table 2: Stoic Week 2015 by age

Age Total %
over 55 416 16.6
46-55 446 17.8
36-45 565 22.6
26-35 618 24.7
18-25 406 16.2
Under 18 45 1.8
didn’t say 7 0.3

 Table 3: Stoic Week 2015 by geographic location

Location Total %
USA 1048 41.9
Australasia 126 5.0
Canada 398 15.9
Europe (outside UK)) 362 14.5
UK 412 16.5
Africa 18 0.7
Asia 56 2.2
South & Central America 34 1.4
Other 49 2.0

 Table 4: Stoic Week 2015 : Previous participation

Number of times participated in Stoic Weeks previously Total %
0 1941 77.5
1 402 16.1
2 111 4.4
3 43 1.7
Other 6 0.2

Table 5: Stoic Week 2015 : Self-rating of knowledge of Stoicism

Knowledge  of Stoicism Total %
None 328 13.1
Novice 788 31.5
I know  a bit 961 38.4
I know quite a bit but not an  expert 403 16.1
expert 23 0.9

An analysis of the relationship between Stoicism and well-being that can be gleaned from the preliminary questionnaires will be published next week.

I can be contacted on tim@timebon.com (http://www.timlebon.com)

Stoic Week Participants: Please Fill in the Questionnaires As Soon As You Can

Stoic Week 2015 Questionnaires 

If you intend to take part in Stoic week, please can you spend a few minutes (less than 15) helping us by filling in the questionnaires. 

This is important to us because it helps us research the effect being Stoic has on people. This year the SABS scale, which gives an indication of how Stoic you are, has been enhanced. We intend to give everyone who fills in the questionnaires both before and after Stoic week individualised feedback about their final scores in the SABS scale.

To complete the questionnaires visit:
http://tinyurl.com/StoicWeek2015Q
or
http://timlebon.checkboxonline.com/StoicWeek2015.aspx

Your help is  much appreciated

With kind regards
The Stoicism Today Project Team

Stoic Week events in Pennsylvania at Slippery Rock University

Attention Pennsylvania Stoics!

For any Stoics in or near Pennsylvania, The Philosophy Department and Philosophy Club are having their inaugural Slippery Rock University Stoic Week series of events.

Please click on the link to see all the details.

Pennsylvania Meeting

Highlights include:

November 2nd – 6th
Live Like a Stoic for a Week
Attend Information Meeting or contact Dr. Andrew Winters

November 12th
Keynote Address – “Stoic Tests: A Study Guide”
Dr. William B. Irvine

A Stoicism panel, and more!

Be there if you can make it, and if not share on social media to those in the area who might be interested.

Stoic Event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Attention Wisconsin Stoics!

Title:  Four Components of a Happy Life – A Stoic Week 2015 Event

Location:  Hudson Business Lounge, 310 N Broadway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

Date/Time:  Thursday, November 5, 7:00-8:30 PM

Event Description:  As a part of the international celebration of Stoic Week 2015, Greg Sadler will be providing a free public lecture on Stoic ideas and techniques focused on living a happier life. The lecture portion will be followed by some Q&A and discussion. In the talk, he will introduce Stoicism as an influential ancient school of Philosophy that continues on today, practised worldwide as modern reinterpretations of classic Stoicism. After briefly discussing some of the key figures associated with the Stoic perspective, Greg will focus on four key components of Stoic practical philosophy – readily applicable today – that they viewed as central to living a happier life. The event will be Greg’s first in his new shared workspace at the Hudson Business Lounge in Milwaukee. Space will be limited to the first 50 participants. Handouts providing additional information about the materials discussed will be provided to participants as well.

The event will be video-recorded.  The video will be one of the seven that Greg will be producing and releasing during Stoic Week (the others are going to focus largely on Cicero’s discussions of Stoic philosophy this year).  There will also be an online follow-up session for YouTube/G+/FB followers on the afternoon of the 8th, using a G+ Hangout.

Be there if you can make it, and if not share on social media to those in the area who might be interested.

Release of O Estoicismo Hoje: Sabedoria Antiga para a Vida Moderna

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‘O Estoicismo Hoje: Sabedoria Antiga para a Vida Moderna’ – Editato por Patrick Ussher e traduzio por Tais Paulilo Blauth.

Da ética estoica às emoções, de prefeitos estoicos e a atenção plena à filosofia prática, à criação dos filhos, à psicoterapia e às penitenciárias, de Star Trek e Sócrates a advogados estoicos, à literatura e ao viver estoico em geral, este livro apresenta uma coletânea abrangente de reflexões sobre como viver uma vida estoica hoje em dia. Você encontrará conselhos sobre como lidar com a adversidade, reflexões sobre a felicidade e a boa vida e depoimentos pessoais significativos de pessoas que colocam em prática o Estoicismo. Conhecerá também as ligações entre o Estoicismo e a psicoterapia, a meditação da atenção plena e as partes da cultura pop em que o Estoicismo surge inusitadamente. O livro será de interesse para acadêmicos e não acadêmicos, pois diz respeito às várias formas com que essa filosofia e modo de vida de 2300 anos permanece relevante para as preocupações e necessidades dos dias atuais.

Book is available for purchase here:

Apple Itunes: here.
Scribd: here.
Kobo: here.
Amazon Brazil: here.
Amazon US: here.

Announcing Stoic Week 2015

Announcing Stoic Week 2015

Modern-day Meditations on Marcus Aurelius

2nd – 8th November

Stoic Week 2015

Do not act as if you were going to live for a thousand years… while you are alive, while it is still possible, become a good person. – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


Enrol Now…

You can now enrol for Stoic Week 2015 at the website below, using the enrolment key “Marcus” (without the quotes).

Modern Stoicism

Follow our Twitter account @Stoicweek or see our Facebook group for more information.  See below for further contact details.

What is Stoic Week?

Stoic Week is an online and international event taking place this year from Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th November.  2015 will be the fourth year in a row that Stoic Week has run.  Anyone can participate by following the daily instructions in the Stoic Week 2015 Handbook, which will be published online. You will be following the practice of Stoic philosophers for seven days.  You will also be discussing the experience of adapting Stoic ideas for modern living with other participants in our online forums. The aims of the course are to introduce the philosophy so that you can see how it might be useful in your own life and to measure its psychological benefits.  This year’s  theme is The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the most widely-read of all Stoic authors.

What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is an ancient Graeco-Roman school of philosophy.  It has an emphasis on practical training and lifestyle changes aimed at improving our moral character and psychological wellbeing.  The Stoic school was founded around 300 BC by Zeno of Citium.  At the core of Stoicism is the idea that virtue, or strength of character, is the most important thing in life. The  central doctrine of Stoicism is that we should ‘follow Nature’.  This means perfecting our own rational nature as human beings, through developing the cardinal virtues: wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation.  It also entails expressing our social nature as human beings,  by involvement in family life and society and by treating all human beings as brothers and sisters. So Stoicism is simultaneously a philosophy of inner strength and outer excellence.  Many people today are interested in Stoicism because of its similarities to modern self-help literature and its influence upon the evidence-based psychological strategies employed in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).

What sort of Course is it?

The course guides you through all the basic ideas of Stoicism. Each day has its own theme, exercises to practise,  and reflections from original Stoic texts to consider. It has been written by the Stoicism Today team, an interdisciplinary group of academics and psychotherapists. You are also encouraged to take wellbeing surveys before and after the week, so we can measure the effectiveness of the course.

How can I Share my Experience of Stoic Week?

There will be very active discussion boards during Stoic Week on the course website. You can also share your reflections  via social networks via our Stoicism Twitter account, and our Facebook and Google+ groups.

How can I Meet Other People Interested in Stoicism?

If you live in the UK, there is a one-day conference being held at Queen Mary, University of London, on Saturday  November 7th. There are 300 places available, so you should book now to avoid disappointment.  Videos and audio recordings of this event are planned, and will be uploaded on to the Stoicism Today website in the weeks that follow Stoic Week. You can see a video of last year’s London event: Stoicism Today Conference.

Tickets are available here. Further details are available on the relevant post, to be found here.

There are also other events being organised around the world. Get in touch  if you are organising an event and would like it listed on the blog.

What Were the Findings of Last Year’s Study?

Last year, around 2,500 people took part in Stoic Week worldwide. Our findings supported the view that Stoicism is  helpful. Participants reported a 16% improvement in life satisfaction, a 10% increase in flourishing, a 11% increase in positive emotions and a 16% reduction in negative emotions. We developed a special Stoic Attitudes and Behaviours Scale (SABS), which showed increases in Stoic attitudes (12%) and behaviours (15%) in the course of the week. It also showed a consistently positive relationship between adopting Stoic attitudes and behaviours and improvements in well-being.

What about Stoicism in Schools and Universities?

Are you a teacher or lecturer who might be interested in Stoic Week?  Why not download the Stoic Week booklet and share it with your students to try out Stoicism for a week, and invite them to write up their experience for the blog….

Stoicism in the Media

In previous years there has been a lot of media interest in Stoic Week and Stoicism in general.  If you would like to run a feature on Stoic Week, please get in touch. You can read of the previous media interest in Stoic Week on our Stoicism  Today blog.

Please share this page with anyone you think might be interested.  You can post it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networks.

How can I Contact the Stoicism Today team about Stoic Week 2015?

Twitter

@StoicWeek

https://twitter.com/StoicWeek

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Stoicism/

Google+

https://plus.google.com/communities/102137740186330075111

Calendars

Subscribe to the Stoic Week 2015 calendar for updates:

Right here – WordPress

http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/stoicismtoday/

Make sure to subscribe to the blog (subscription box in the upper right-hand corner of the blog) to ensure you receive further information about how to register for Stoic Week and to download the 2015 booklet closer to the time.