Sunday, 2 September 2018


Julia Marwood of Manchester Stoics described how she became interested in Stoicism during her times as a student including going to Stoic Week. She downloaded a handbook of exercises and then joined Manchester Stoics. She recommended the book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine, which describes principles that can help with anxiety.

She gave a short history of Stoicism, comparing the Greek and Roman philosophers. In ancient times Greek stoicism was aimed at developing morals, while in Roman culture it was about gaining tranquility.  Zeno of Citium (333BCE) from Cyprus was considered the founder of the Stoic school of Philosophy which taught that Reason was the greatest good in life. He taught in Athens from about 300BCE. Other Stoics included: Musonius Rufus, Roman Stoic philosopher in the 1st Century BCE; Epictetus, born a slave, but ended up as a Stoic philosopher in Greece; Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher; and Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor known for his philosophical interests especially Stoicism.

In more modern times Rene Descartes’ ethical philosophy was influenced by stoicism - his ethics gives a central place to the notion of appropriate action in a sense reminiscent of the Stoics’ kathekon (appropriate behavior). Within this category are included a human being’s duties to God and to other human beings, and actions whose aptness stems from their promotion of the survival and health of the body. 

Victor E. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and a holocaust survivor, had a philosophy based on Stoic Principles. He said; Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Albert Ellis was an American psychologist who in 1955 developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy which led to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. He said: The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. 

Modern Stoicism is the home of Stoic Week, Stoicism today and Stoicon (conference). Donald Robertson was one of the founding members of Modern Stoicism and Stoic Week, and is the author of: The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy (2010); Build Your Resilience (2012); Stoicism and the Art of Happiness (2013).

Massimo Pigliucci, scientist and philosopher wrote How to be a Stoic.

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman is a translation of selections from several stoic philosophers including Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Zeno and others. It aims to provide lessons about personal growth, life management and practicing mindfulness

Stoic techniques for a happier life include:

The dichotomy of control (DOC) - the assertion that some things are ‘up to us’ (within your power), and others are ‘not up to us’ (not within your power).

 Negative Visualisation- appreciating what you have by imagining being without it.