Intro 2: Our Thoughts create our Unhappiness

It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgements concerning them.

In last month’s post we saw how it is hard to retain happiness and how this concept might be even misleading; how trivial things can spoil our life and finally how our own thought process  can help us to get closer to our goals and to a life worth living.

In this post we will continue our conversation and will look at one of the most famous Stoic quote:

“It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgements concerning them.”

Epictetus

This short sentence is one of the cornerstones of Stoic philosophy, let’s see how:

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Intro 1: How to Create a Life that Flows Smoothly

It is safe to say that you – at least once in your lifetime – have experienced something that you can refer to as happiness. 

How long did it last? Not long, I imagine. Perhaps, you uneventfully transitioned to something that resembled ‘normality’, or worse, other issues came up immediately and spoiled your mood.

Even though happiness didn’t last long, it does not stop you from seeking more of it.

But what kind of happiness are you seeking? The immediate kind? Fuelled by sex drugs and rock and roll? Happiness as a reward for your hard work and sacrifice? Maybe by obtaining an object of desire, such as a new house, job, car or spouse? Or are you just, “kinda-okay” – happy to sit and wait?

The choice seems to be between obtaining happiness now, later, or not seeking it at all. With the first, you will be happy immediately and miserable later, with the second, you will be waiting agonic until your goal materialises, and maybe, in the long run, you will feel happier. With the third, you are not even trying.

These are the options, are you ready?

If you haven’t chosen to give up already, maybe there is a better option. Let’s see what ancient Greece and Rome thought about this topic! 

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“Stillness is the Key” by R. Holiday

Stillness is the key is the latest book by the American author and entrepreneur Ryan Holiday.

I already wrote about one of his previous books the Daily Stoics (2016) in my post on the best book for Stoicism.

With this book Holiday completes an ideal trilogy of books: The Obstacle is the Way (2014) and Ego is the Enemy (2016).

I found this book in the gift bag of the latest Stoicon in Athens, and despite having a huge backlog of books I started reading immediately. I was not particularly familiar with Holiday’s assays, as I haven’t read the other two books of this trilogy.

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Stoicon 2019 Athens, Greece

On the 5 of September took place, in Athens, the 2019 Stoicon!
The word conference of Stoicism.

I have been so lucky that I was able to assist it for the second time after last year in London. This was actually the 5th Stoicon ever done. There were: London 2014 and 2015; New York 2016, Toronto 2017 and London 2018.

The next location for 2020, is still to be decided, although, I hope that after Athens, Rome will follow.

Athens is, of course, the perfect city for hosting a conference on an ancient Greek philosophy.

By walking its street and ruins you can have the sense that this was one of the most important birthplace of philosophy, democracy and in general the western civilisation. it has been a constant trill for me.

Besides, the city offers good food and its autumn weather was better of this year summer here in the UK!

The conference

This year conference was hosted in the Cotsen Hall of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

The entrance of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Photo by M. CInelli
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Review on: “On Living and Dying Well” by Cicero

If it’s possible to attain wisdom,
then we should put it to use and not just possess it.
The only limit on seeking the truth is finding it;
and to give up looking is shameful,
because what we’re looking for
is the most beautiful thing there is.

Cicero, On Ends, 1.1-12

If you, like me, had the to translate Cicero in school, you probably hate the guy! The first thing you would, in every Latin test, was to glance a the author name and hope that was not Cicero. Anything but Cicero!!! Such his texts are hard to translate!

Despite, be the name of the book I want to suggest you is titled On Living and Dying Well. I’m still more frightened by the name of the author.

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More Than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age

In the book “More Than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age” the author Antonia Macaro offers a detailed comparison between two ancient philosophic and life inspiring practice: Stoicism and Buddhism.

Review

In the book “More Than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age” the author Antonia Macaro offers a detailed comparison between two ancient philosophic and life inspiring practice: Stoicism and Buddhism.

In my experience, when the first is mentioned or discussed the second is usually brought up. After reading this book It is clear to me, how the two philosophy offer similar solutions for how to tackle day-to-day. Although, those solution come from traditions and sensibilities way different.

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Introduction to Stoicism – pamphlet

Not to merely know, but to live philosophically

PDF version of this intro can be find here:

“It isn’t the events themselves that disturb people, only their judgements about them”

Epictetus

“If it is not right don’t do it, if it is not true don’t say it”

Marcus Aurelius

“Through my efforts, I gain the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”

Secular serenity preyer

­What is Stoicism?

In today’s English, we refer to stoicism as: the ability or the predisposition of a person to endure pain or hardship without the displaying of feelings.

However, that is not Stoicism!

Stoicism is a philosophy, a school­ of thought founded in Athens about 2300 years ago by a man named Zeno of Citium. Zeno started his school by standing on a porch in the market and talking to anyone who happened by. The word for porch in Greek is stoa, and the followers of Zeno were known as Stoics.

Stoicism became the preeminent philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome; it penetrated all sectors and classes of the society such that two of the most important Stoic authors are the slave Epictetus and the emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Stoicism flourished for nearly 500 years, until the fall of the empire. It re-emerged occasionally in many philosophers and thinkers during the Renaissance when people returned to reason to find answers about how to live.

However, only recently has it been rediscovered as a philosophy to live by!

Continue reading “Introduction to Stoicism – pamphlet”

Marcus Aurelius: The Philosopher Emperor

Marcus Aurelius: The Philosopher Emperor

Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019, 7:00 PM

CB2
5-7 Norfolk Street Cambridge, GB

11 Members Went

Our next meet-up will focus on the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius, in conjunction with the publication of the newest book of Stoic writer Donald Robertson: How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius (https://amzn.to/2TDP4rE). Marcus was the last emperor of the so called ‘Five-Good-Emperors’ period of the Roman E…

Check out this Meetup →

The next session will focus on the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius, in conjunction with the publication of the newest book of Stoic writer Donald Robertson: How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.

Marcus was the last emperor of the so called ‘Five-Good-Emperors’ period of the Roman Empire. He spent 12 years of his reign fighting the Germanic tribes on the border of the Empire (the same as seen at the beginning of the film Gladiator).

And, at nights in his tent, he wrote his most famous work Meditation (or ‘to himself’). Consequently, this book is a sort of diary and philosophic text. It contains an amazing recollection of the most important Stoic teachings plus the internal discussion of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, resulting in the most intimate, lonely and rational diary that you will ever encounter.

Arête: How to be your best self and be happy!

In the life-long search for eudaimonia (happiness) the Stoic tell us to focus on three aspects of ourselves:

  • what we think (thought),
  • how we react (feeling) and
  • how we act (behaviour).

Arête: How to be your best self and be happy!

Monday, Mar 25, 2019, 7:00 PM

The Waterman
32 Chesterton Road Cambridge, GB

13 Members Went

In the life-long search for eudaimonia (happiness) the Stoic tell us to focus on three aspects of ourselves: • what we think (thought), • how we react (feeling) and • how we act (behaviour) In this meeting, I want to discuss with you, how can we act. in this case, the Stoics will refer to the concept of arête! In English, this is commonly transl…

Check out this Meetup →

In this meeting, I want to discuss with you, how can we act.

in this case, the Stoics will refer to the concept of Arete! In English, this is commonly translate as virtue. However, a better translation would be “excellence of character”, implying that we have to be better version of ourselves.

In particular they would focus on four cardinal virtues:

  • Courage of facing reality
  • Justice or fairness
  • Temperance or self-control
  • Practical wisdom

In our meeting we will discuss how can be better version of ourselves and how by being virtuous we can be happy and more satisfied with our life.

Recommended books:

Videos:


The stoic fellowship:

https://stoicfellowship.com/stoicism-resources.html

As always feel free to bring notes or topic you want to discuss!

4 of the best introductory videos on Stoicism

Stoicism can have a meaning impact on your life.

In order to have a better understanding of that, I have selected four of the best introductory videos that I could found.

Hopefully, they will intrigue you and make you dig more into it!

The philosophy of Stoicism – Massimo Pigliucci

A short historic overlook on the Stoics and the impact of this philosophy in society.

The Stoics & Why Stoicism matters

These couple of videos are produce from the brilliant channel “The school of Life”.

They dig a bit more on Stoic philosophy, explaining the main concepts and figures.  

A lecture on Marcus Aurelius

In here Professor Michael Sugrue give an amazing lesson on the figure of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. This video is a must-watch even if Stoic philosophy is not your main interest.

As somebody wrote in the comment section: It’s one of those videos that you didn’t realize you needed it, until you watched it”

If you have found other valuable videos and material please let me know in the comment of this post.