Stoicism Today Blog

Street Stoicism IV: 'Reflections on the Stoic Life' by Marcin Fabjanski

This is our final excerpt in the ‘Street Stoicism’ series, in which Marcin offers some short reflections on living the Stoic life in general.


Autumn in Warsaw. Livid sky, wet, almost sticky rain, russet grass. The withering leaves fall off the trees at my sight, as if somebody was directing a one-man audience play called Everything has to die at some point, and by that I mean pretty soon.

I’m walking down the street with the burden of groceries in my bag and the burden of sorrow on my chest. I’ve gained weight again, the project I’d been working on for three years is falling apart and I will probably lose my job, writing the book about the Stoics does seem to be going somewhere, but it’s going the hard way and stumbling on some rocks. And worst of all – I’m turning forty soon.

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Street Stoicism III: 'Missed Opportunities' by Marcin Fabjanski

In our third except from Marcin Fabjanski’s book Street Stoicism (only published in Polish, as Stoicyzm Uliczny) we look at a Stoic response to missed opportunities…



All is lost. And it was so close. If only I had gone and talked to the boss instead of wondering whether it’s appropriate, I would be the project manager now. But no – I will keep sweating my guts out doing everybody else’s job, and someone else is going to get praised for it. I will never get to a higher position, and I am not getting younger every day. Who knows when this kind of opportunity might happen again. I will probably be so old and burnt out working on my position that they won’t trust me with the project anyway.

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Street Stoicism II: When You Are Too 'Busy' to Notice the Child who Wants Your Attention by Marcin Fabjanski

In the second of our examples from ‘Street Stoicism’ (published in Polish as ‘Stoicyzm Uliczny‘, but not yet in English), Marcin Fabjanski considers the Stoic response to take when you ever become too ‘busy’ to notice a child who wants your attention.

As with all 41 examples in Marcin’s book, he imagines the situation, before presenting a Stoic maxim that relates to the situation, drawing out the meaning of that maxim, and giving advice on how to tame the situation.

Watch out for our next example from Street Stoicism this Saturday!


Oh, what a nice picture, this flower’s really pretty. Oooh, it’s a house. Beautiful. Keep on drawing, I have to read this paper, it’s really important. No, I won’t draw with you. I’m busy, can’t you see?

What now? Building blocks? Stop bothering me, have you got ADHD or what? I don’t know exactly what ADHD means. It’s something really bad and you have it.

The poet Słonimski was right when he wrote that children are disgrace to human race. How much nicer would the world be without them. Nobody would bother me. I could simply… Don’t take this paper. Careful, you’ll tear up the sports section.

That’s enough! You’re going to bed!

Oh come on, don’t start crying now…

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Street Stoicism I – 'Rudeness!' by Marcin Fabjanski

In our first example from ‘Street Stoicism’ (published in Poland as Stoicyzm Uliczny), Marcin Fabjanski applies Stoic philosophy to responding to rudeness. In this particular case, he uses the example of a rude shop assistant….

The Situation

“Step aside will you, you’re blocking the queue!”. The shop assistant at the grocery store has no mercy on my attempts to unstick the plastic bag so that I can open it. Opening those bags has been my nightmare for years.

“Not everybody has such long nails, young lady, painted red during working hours…”. I bite my tongue right before saying it out loud.

Nonetheless, the situation develops as usual – badly. The people standing behind me in the queue immediately catch the shop assistant’s words. I can hear some ahems behind my back and then, obviously, a reproachful remark of another guy in the queue: ‘well this man doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry!’


This kind of behavior will not affect the speed of my packing the groceries in a positive way. Now I will unstick my bag slowly and ineffectively. Flauntingly slowly. All of you will stand in this queue for a while!


‘If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?’

Epictetus (trans. Elizabeth Carter)

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'Street Stoicism': A New Series of Articles for Stoicism Today

From tomorrow, we’ll be releasing an excerpt every three or four days, from a book called ‘Street Stoicism’ by Marcin Fabjanski. At the moment, the book is only published in Polish (‘Stoicyzm Uliczny‘), but Marcin has kindly provided some translated excerpts from his work for readers of Stoicism Today.

Marcin’s book takes 41 common situations, from seeing the dentist to having a quarrel, to having a computer which won’t work to having too many things to do at once, and applies Stoic philosophy to each scenario. Each example starts with imagining the problem situation, before then presenting a Stoic maxim which relates to that situation, and then reflects on the implications of that maxim for action.

Marcin has given a TEDx talk in Warsaw, ‘Do Not Fall in Love with a Sparrow Flying By’, which takes its inspiration from a passage in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.

A little bit more about Marcin….

Dr. Marcin Fabjański has worked as an academic lecturer and researcher, as well as as a journalist and director of documentary films. He is also author of five books, several of which were for children, including Wędrówki filozoficzne [Travels in Philosophy] (2003), a book which combines fiction and facts in order to introduce the history of philosophy to children. The book is the basis for a programme used in several primary and secondary schools in Poland for introducing philosophy to children.

Marcin is a graduate of the University of York, UK and the Adam  Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. He received Ph.D. in Philosophy  (1998), on the basis of dissertation Criticism of the Metaphysical Constituent of Mind in Buddhism and in Schopenhauer’s Thought.

Marcin also runs the website, which includes an English version, and which focusses on his work in ‘Mind-Body Bridging’.

For a full biography, click here.

The Stoic Handbook of Epictetus

Online slideshow of Epictetus’ Stoic Handbook, created using the Microsoft Powerpoint Web App.

Below is a short embedded slideshow of Epictetus’ Stoic Handbook, created using the MS-Powerpoint Web App. Use the controls underneath to navigate through the slides, export to a PDF file, or expand it for full-screen viewing…

Podcast: John Sellars on 'Freedom and Indifference in Marcus Aurelius'

You can listen here to an audio recording of a lecture John Sellars gave on Marcus Aurelius at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

In his talk, John attempts ‘…to rescue Marcus Aurelius from the charge of rationalization made against the late Stoics by Isaiah Berlin, Bernard Williams, David Zimmerman, and others. Marcus’s retreat into his inner citadel is not a defensive response to unwelcome external circumstances but rather a reflection of his commitment to the central claims of Stoic value theory.’

What is in Our Power, Part Five: An Exploratory Course by Keith Seddon

In our final part of our special series from Keith Seddon’s course Stoic Serenity, you can engage in two exercises to reflect on how you have applied and can apply Epictetus’ advice on what is in your power and what is not to your life.

Click below for the exercises! If you can, take 15 minutes to go through the exercises and please post below your reflections on this key Stoic maxim, and write about your overall thoughts on Epictetus’ approach. Is ‘knowing what is in our power and what is not’ at the core of Stoic philosophical practice?

What is in Our Power, Part Five


More about Keith Seddon & Stoic Serenity: Keith Seddon is director of the MA and PhD programmes in Ancient Philosophy at Warnborough College, Ireland. He is a freelance academic and writer, who started the ‘Stoic Foundation’ in 2000, an educational trust, offering advice, support and a correspondence course (on which his book Stoic Serenity, from which our extract is taken, is based) in practical Stoic philosophy to anyone interested in taking up Stoicism as a philosophy to live by. Our thanks go to Keith for allowing his work to be reproduced on this blog.