As we approach Stoicon 2022, held online again this year on October 29 (don’t forget to save the date!), we continue our tradition of publishing interviews with the Stoicon speakers, workshop providers, panelists, and organizers. Our third interview is with Logan Vallandingham, another of the participants in the Stoicism Around The World panel!
To see the schedule for Stoicon, or to get your ticket for this event – donations for tickets support the continued work of Modern Stoicism, Ltd – click here and you will be taken to the Stoicon 2022 Eventbrite site.
How would you like to introduce yourself to the readers of Stoicism Today, and to people who might be interested in Stoicon?
I am a Stoic enthusiast who tries to practice Stoicism for the benefit of himself and those around him. I am the leader of the Trondheim Stoics, and co-leader for the Norway Stoics.
What are you most looking forward to about the Stoicon conference?
I am looking forward to using Stoic to reignite and focus my Stoic practice. In that regard, I am also really looking forward to Stoic Week and trying to reflect on how things have gone for me since last year’s Stoic Week.
Stoicism has a wide popular appeal right now. Why do you think that is the case?
I think our sphere of influence has become increasing blurry as time has gone on, and we have trouble seeing the results of our actions. Having a straightforward, clear view of what is in my control and what isn’t gives us all some solid ground to try to make progress with ourselves, those around us and with society in general.
Are there any Stoic practices that you make use of routinely? What effects have you found they have for you?
When there is a high pressure situation or when things don’t quite go as planned I ask myself “What can I do?” and try to assess whether my anxiety and worry about the situation is helpful or not.
What was your first encounter with Stoicism? What drew you into it early on?
My first encounter with Stoicism came after a self-improvement phase I had in my early twenties. I read through some of the more fluffy self help material, and got some motivation from there but also felt a need for something deeper and more solid. Eventually I ended up reading Nicomachean Ethics, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It didn’t take so much searching on the internet for similar books before I stumbled upon Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus. They have been “home base” for me ever since.
What aspects of Stoicism have become more important or interesting to you as your studies deepened over time? Why did those aspects become more important or interesting?
I have become particularly interested in assessing virtue, and have been thinking a lot about how a “virtuous action” may differ based on who you are and your particular situation. Additionally, how to work with the virtues so as to make progress with them. At some periods I have tripped up because I tried to take on too much at once, so realizing the nuance in that has been helpful for me.
If you had to pick just a few things about Stoicism you think people would find most useful, what would you say those things are?
The dichotomy of control is key, of course. We spend so much time and energy worrying and fretting about things which we simply can’t change. So, we should rather think about what we can change. The other is the contemplation of both how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and how brief this life is we have. I think contemplating on these two things can help motivate us to be better and aim for more value in our lives, and simply not sweating the small stuff.
Some of us get excited about Stoicon every year, but there are always people ready to say “Stoics shouldn’t get excited”. What do you think about this?
I think we should acknowledge that, as humans, we sometimes need to shake things up and that there is value in that. I think this is a great opportunity for us to have some very important aha moments, which we might be somewhat blind to going through our regular day-to-day routine. Of course, if Stoicon were to get cancelled we would all be fine with that, but I think attending Stoicon is a “preferred indifferent” for sure – and one that should be enjoyed both in the “drumroll” and the event itself.
One of the questions we raise every year is: Have we reached peak Stoicism? What do you think? Has Stoicism reached its peak when it comes to contemporary interest in it?
Maybe. I think we can all agree that those who consider themselves practicing Stoics will never reach the magnitude of, for example, the major world religions. But, I think the influence of Stoic thought is still blossoming and will continue to grow for many years – even though people may not call it Stoicism.