Monday, October 14, 2019

How to be a Stoic after Stoic Week

Stoicism appeals to many people. We now have a lot of evidence that it helps people in very many ways. So how do you become more Stoic? These ideas came from people who had done Stoic Week - could some of them help you?

  • Daily Stoic Meditation (specifically the morning and evening Meditations)
  • Read the main original Stoic texts
  • Do Stoic Week again on my own initiative
  • Speak to partner and friends about Stoicism
  • Watch You tube videos or podcasts about Stoicism regularly
  • Daily reflection and/or journaling of my progress in Stoicism
  • Focus on specific aspects of Stoicism such as the virtues and the dichotomy of control
  • Use the self-monitoring sheet from Stoic Week
  • Download the audios from Stoic Week and listen to them
  • Read modern books on Stoicism
  • Practice the ‘sage on my shoulder’ technique regularly
  • Do the View from Above meditation and reflect on our place in the universe
  • Set reminders (e.g. on phone) to do my Stoic Practice and of key Stoic teachings (daily or weekly)
  • Set aside time for regular practice, prioritise it
  • See a Stoic Life Coach
For more information on Stoic Week, see

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Stocon X - Stoic Life Coaching Workshop - Stoicism Made Simple

Thanks to all who attended the 2 workshops on Stoic Life Coaching yesterday at Senate House London as part of Stoicon-X.

The presentation on Stoic Life Coaching is available here.

The "Stoicism Made Simple" model presented is based around Marcus Aurelius's 4 sentence version of Stoicism, with a small adaption.

Rational judgement, now, at this very moment.

Virtuous action, now, at this very moment.
(Wisdom, Courage, Self-control, Justice)

Willing acceptance - now, at this very moment - of what you can’t change

all you need.”

Adapted from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.6

Have a look at the full presentation for more explanation, or ask me about a consultation if you think it could help you.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Stoicon 2019 in Athens Report

Stoicon Athens at last! How could I make the most of it? Well obviously I would have to visit a Greek taverna and some point, and have a Greek meal with Stoic friends too - but how to make the most of all the enlightenment?

I challenged myself to take a useful photo and summarise a key take-home message of each talk.

Then, so I thought, I could share it with Stoic friends who couldn't be there. This is the result. I hope it's useful!

A small confession -  I started writing  it from a Greek Taverna in the lunch break,  with a glass of cool white wine on hand to help ...

Introduction: Welcome to the Birthplace of Stoicism
Donald Robertson, author of Stoicism and the Art of Happiness and How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, etc.

My take-home message: Stoicism boils down to some very simple and practical ideas that can make a positive difference to your life.
9.30 On Taking Responsibility: The Stoics in Exile
Jonas Salzgeber, author of The Little Book of Stoicism

My take-home Message  Even when adversities happen (like exile) we have the freedom - no, the responsibility - to decide how to respond. And we can't even be sure it is an adversity ...
10.45 Military Stoicism
Thomas Jarrett, LTC-R, retired combat stress control officer, creator of Stoic & Warrior Resilience Training programs in the Iraq War

My take-home message: Important themes of Stoicism (virtue, resilience, what you can and cannot control) can be very useful when preparing for any challeng.

11.30  For the Benefit of All: On Being a Social Stoic
John Sellars, Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London, author of Stoicism and The Art of LivingLessons in Stoicism, etc.

Take-home message: We are part of humanity just as a limb is part of our body. We should treat others as if they are part of our body, with justice and care.

12.15 The Acropolis, the Inner Citadel and the View from Above
Matt Sharpe, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Deakin University

Take-home message: The view from the moon, or space, or above, can help us to not take ourselves too seriously.

Donald Robertson's view from above the auditorium ...

Our beautiful and very Greek location, Cotsen Hall, Athens

4.45 Keynote: Epictetus on Attending to Oneself
Katerina Ierodiakonou, Professor at the University of Athens and at the University of Geneva, editor of Dialectic after Plato and Aristotle and Topics in Stoic Philosophy, etc.

Take-home message: Epictetus introduced prosoche into Stoicism (what is now often called 2Stoic mindfulness" and can also be called "attention". We don't know exactly why Epictetus he did this, but it may have been his recognising that the reason that the Stoic sage was so hard to find ("as rare as an Egyptian phoenix" was because it was just too tricky to challenge our unhelpful thinking if we didn't develop the skill of paying attention to our thinking. 

Phew! Just finished this in time  for an evening meal with Stoic friends .... and I did get to see the afternoon sessions in between.

More resources will be made available at

and it's Stoicon-X tomorrow and then London Stoicon-X next Saturday

It's Stoic Week - and so far, most participants come from .......

Looking forward to Stoicon today and will tweet about it at #timlebon as post some more on this blog ....
It's the week where people from all over the world "act like a Stoic" for a week.  We ask them to fill in questionnaires so we can work out whether Stoic is helpful or not, and which aspects of it are helpful, and in what ways it is helpful.
See  for previous findings.

This year, so far we have most participants from USA, with Canada and UK a bit behind, but we are still enrolling people.

United States 109
United Kingdom 51
Canada 31
Australia 12
Italy 5
New Zealand 4
Denmark 3
Argentina Germany Ireland {Republic} Japan Romania Singapore Sweden 2
Belarus Bosnia Herzegovina Brazil Czech Republic Finland France India Israel Malaysia Netherlands Pakistan Russian Federation Spain Switzerland Venezuela 1

To join in for free, visit

Friday, October 04, 2019

Stoic Week 2019 Series: #2 Stoicism for Absolute Beginners

Stoicism can appear to be a complicated philosophy. At the heart of it, though, is a very simple, and extremely wise, principle called the Stoic Fork

It goes like this

Understand there are some things we can change, other things that we can’t
What we can change is basically how we think about things and our voluntary actions
We can’t change pretty much everything else – the past, other people, fate

So focus your attention and energies on how you think about things and what you do, and accept that you can't control everything else.

Do you already follow the wisdom of the Stoic Fork?

What if you are stuck in traffic? Do you focus on how you react and what you can do? In which case you might react with self-control, recognising you can't do much about it, or with wisdom,  working out a new route. Or do you swear under your breath, worsening your  stress levels and serving no useful purpose?

How about when a colleague or customer is difficult? Do you try and control them, or expect them to somehow automatically behave as you would like? The Stoic wouldn't adopt these strategies, understanding they involve trying to control what cannot be controlled. Instead, they might reflect on their own behaviour, and what they can do - perhaps communicating their own needs clearly and in a friendly way or in some cases just accepting that this is the way that person behaves.

Why not try to use the Stoic Fork at least once today?

For more resources on Stoicism see my Stoicism page

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Stoic Week 2019 Series 1. 8 things you (probably) didn't know about Stocism

In readiness for Stoic Week next week, I am going to be blogging about Stoicism every day, starting from  today
I also intend to do some tweeting at Stoicon in Athens on Saturday .....

Although I hope to be introducing ideas of interest to seasoned Stoics as well, I'm also aiming for newbies. So feel free to forward this to friends or relatives who you think might benefit from Stoicism

8 Things You (probably) did't know about Stoicism

1. The word "Stoic" comes from the  ancient Greek expression  "Stoa Poikile", meaning a  ‘Painted Porch’. This was a decorated colonnade on the north side of the Agora in Athens, where the first Stoic,  Zeno and his followers discussed what later came to be known as Stoicism

2. Stoicism (big S) is not the same as stoicism (small s). Stoicism is an ancient philosophy which provides a practical framework to live like an excellent human being, based on the core virtues of wisdom, moderation, courage and justice. This is very different from adopting a stoic (small s) attitude, which has come to mean being rather cold, unfeeling and resigned. A Stoic (big S) can be warm, have positive emotions and be very active politically and socially - they just wont get so upset about the things they can't change. 

3. Contemporary celebrities who have shown a positive interest in Stoicism  include Derren Brown, J.K. Rowiing, actor Tom Hiddlestone  and Gerrie Halliwell("Ginger Spice") . Derren Brown has even written a book strongly influenced by Stoicism (called "Happy").

4. Famous people in history who have been influenced by Stoicism include a number of US Presidents including Thomas Jefferson and Bill Clinton as well as Nelson Mandela as well as numerous philosophers such as Spinoza and the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury.

5. Modern Cognitive Behavioural Therapy originally drew heavily on Stoic ideas. Both the originators of CBT  - Tim Beck and (especially) Albert Ellis acknowledged their debt to Stoicism

6. "Modern Stoicism" has increasingly flourished over the last decade. Modern Stoics are interested in drawing on Stoicism to live a good life, some of them simplify it, some emphasise the ethics and psychology more than the metaphysics and worldview.

7. The Modern Stoicism project has also done some research into whether being a Stoic helps. In short - yes,for many people it does.

8. The positive quality found to be most associated with Stoicism is ... zest.  So much for Stoics being cold and unemotional.

To join Stoic Week in 2019 for free, visit

Thursday, September 26, 2019

One Minute Survey - Help me write what you most want to read

Thank you very much indeed for taking the time to complete this survey. It will help me write articles of the greatest interest and value to you.

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It's Stoic Week again, coming soon - want to join in?


This year Stoic Week is taking place from the 7th to the 13th October 2019.
Stoic Week is a global online experiment trying to see if people can benefit from following the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. Since its inception in 2012, over 20,000 people have signed up and so far the results have been consistently positive – people do benefit from ‘living like a Stoic’. This is your opportunity to experience some of those benefits too.
The course is free and online, attracting participants from all over the world. There is a series of questionnaires to complete in advance, guided advice for each day of the week, and a second set of questionnaires at the end.
For some background information and reports from previous years in the media, visit:
You can sign up for Stoic Week via the link below or find more information about the project on the Modern Stoicism website.
Each year the organizers of Stoic Week also put on public events to coincide with the week. In 2019 the main event, Stoicon, will take place in Athens, on the 5th October. A series of smaller Stoicon-x events will take place at locations all over the world. Further information about all these events can be found on the Modern Stoicism website.
Stoic Week and Stoicon events are run by Modern Stoicism, a not-for-profit organization set up by a group of academics and psychotherapists.
So, what is Stoicism? Here are some key Stoic ideas:
  • Acknowledge that you can’t control much of what goes on in your life.
  • See that your emotions are the product of how you think about the world.
  • Accept that bad things are bound to happen to you from time to time, just as they do to everyone else.
  • See yourself as part of a larger whole, not an isolated individual; part of the human race, part of Nature.
  • Think of everything you have as not your own, but simply on loan, that one day will be taken back.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Positive Psychology course - Thursday evenings London starting Oct 3rd with Tim LeBon

Want to make 2020 a special year?
Still time to enroll for this 10 week class on Thursday evenings in London starting Oct 3rd

I hope you may be able to join us.


Most of us would like to become happier and flourish in life. This course provides evidence-based techniques to enable you to do this. This short course takes a very practical approach. Students will learn evidence-based skills and be encouraged to apply them between sessions.

Why choose this course?

You will learn evidence-based techniques to become happier, be more engaged in life, have more meaning and purpose, enjoy better personal and professional relationships and achieve more.
Through encouragement from the course tutor, you will learn techniques that enable you to realise your full potential, as well assess their individual experiences within the context of positive psychology. Participation is important and the course asks for a lot of self-reflection.
The part-time course is suitable for anyone who wishes to develop professionally or personally. It may be of particular relevance to those who mentor or coach or manage other people but is not limited to these people.

Course overview

You will learn leading-edge ways to develop PERMA: positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, purpose and accomplishment.
You will also have the opportunity to reflect on values and learn how CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) can help you become more resilient and move in your valued direction.
Weekly classes encourage discussion of these ideas and practical exercises are given to aid self-development. You also have the option of giving a short presentation in class.
The two Positive Psychology courses can be taken in either order and no prior knowledge is required.
To enrol and for further info visit

Monday, August 26, 2019

Bryan Magee, the man who made philosophy intelligble

Sad to hear of the death of Bryan Magee last month, aged 89.
Magee introduced me and I am sure many others to philosophy through is TV programmes The Great Philosophers and Men Of Ideas.
Magee had the happy knack of making complicated ideas intelligible. My main memory of the programmes is of a great philosopher (and he had some real greats on) like Quine say something far too complicated for me to understand and then Magee in a few sentences would say "So, Professor, in essence what you are saying is...." and all would become (relatively) clear,.

Here is a really good obituary of Bryan Magee  written by Julian Baggini

Much of the material from his programmes is available for free on You Tube. Here is my old college President, Tony Quinton, being interviewed by Magee about Spinoz and Leibniz

Sunday, May 05, 2019

How Stoicism can help you manage Anger and Frustration

Anger and frustration are an inevitable part of human life. Like rain on a Bank Holiday, traffic jams and politicians being really self-interested and deluded, they are part of the human condition.

Or are they?

The Stoics take a different view which can ultimately be both mood-enhancing and liberating.

A game-changing insight, a magic key to changing your life, is that we are not affected by things so much as our interpretation of them. 

A second key idea is that we have control over some things and not others, and the wise person focusses all their energy only on what they can change.

This means that though rainy bank holidays, traffic jams and politicians are inevitable, our anger and frustration over them are not.

One of the best introductions to Stoicism's remedy for anger is Seneca's little book On Anger. 
But how best to translate Seneca's ideas into a modern day set of remedies?  

In this series of articles recently published on the Modern Stoicism website, I wrote about how someone struggling today with anger and frustration might be helped by conversing with a modern Seneca, a life coached well-versed in Seneca's Stoic ideas and also with a good understanding of how therapy can help people overcome bad habits like getting angry too often.

Stoic Therapy for Anger by Tim LeBon -part 1

Stoic Therapy for Anger by Tim LeBon -part 2

I hope you find them useful and help you take control over what you can - with practice - change (your anger and frustration) and accept what you cannot (politicians, traffic jams and the weather, for starters).  Seneca, and the articles, also discuss why tackling anger and frustration is so important.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

How to Achieve Your Goals this Year

So you know how to set your goals for this year, the key question is
- what gives me the best chance of achieving my goals?

In this post I will share ideas from the 3 disciplines I find most insightful - Positive Psychology, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Stoicism, drawing on my talk at the Weekend University in 2018 (I have included clips from a video of my talk and a pdf)

1. Use strategies that research has shown work to work ( drawing on Positive Psychology)

Psychologist Richard Wiseman reviewed 10 common strategies and discovered these were the only 5 that worked.  I talked about  which research-based tips  work and which do not for 3 minutes, starting at 12 minutes in the clip below.

Evidence-based techniques to achieve your goals (from 12 mins for 3 minutes)

Often these research-based tips will be enough for you to achieve your goals this year.
But sometimes they won't, especially if unhelpful life rules or assumptions or difficult emotions get in the way. In these cases Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be the difference that makes the difference,.

2. Use  CBT  to help overcome emotional and  other obstacles to change

To hear me explain  these ideas in much more detail , watch or listen to my Weekend University talk for  from the 15 minute to the 52 minute mark

                                           CBT  to  help you achieve your goals (from 15 mins for 47 minutes)

3.  Learn and Practice Stoicism to develop excellent habits for life

Positive Psychology gives you evidence-based strategies.
CBT helps you overcome emotional obstacles.

But how do you develop the right habits that will mean you continue moving in the right direction once the goals are achieved? And what can help you focus on important and morally significant goals rather than trivial ones?  Over to philosophy and specifically Stoicism, an ancient philosophy experiencing a twenty-first century renaissance.

Stoicism can be simplified into 3 life-changing ideas.

To hear more about how Stoicism can help you achieve your goals and give you a helpful life Philosophy, skip to the hour mark in my Weekend University talk and watch it until the end.

                              Stoicism  to  help you achieve your goals (from 60  mins for 42 minutes)

I hope these ideas are helpful.

You can download the pdf of the Weekend University presentation here.

A day of practical philosophy Feb 2nd 2019

I'm running my annual Philosophical Life Coaching in Central London on Saturday Feb 2nd.

Philosophical Life Coaching

Course Dates: 02/02/19 
Time: 10:30 - 17:30 
Location: City Lit Keeley Street  near Covent Garden and Holborn
Tutor: Tim LeBon
Cost £59 for whole day course.

Philosophical life coaching helps you lead a more satisfying and meaningful life by using insights and methods from the great thinkers. This introductory workshop will show you some of the most interesting ways it can be of help. No previous experience required.

It's Groundhog Day on Feb 2nd, so we may just look at a philosophically insightful clip from that classic.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

How to Set Inspiring Goals for the New Year

I've previously written about how  some New Year's resolutions are  NUTS, because they are
Negative , Unrealistic Timeless  and Saintly

Many New Year's resolutions go  completely against goal-setting wisdom. Goals  should be  are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timebound and positive - not NUTS! No wonder so many resolutions fail  before the Xmas decorations are taken down.

There's another reason why so many New Year's resolutions fail. 
We often  commit to something we feel  we ought to do  rather than what we  would  genuinely find inspiring.

Today I'm going to share the process to set my own goals each year. It  works much better than New Year's resolutions.

Imagine it's the end of 2019.
You are feeling really happy with what you've achieved in 2019
What would you be saying about what has happened that makes you so happy about 2019?

You will probably find it helpful to think of various areas of life so you get a balanced set of goals.

For example, you might consider these areas:-
Work, Career and Studying
Family and intimate relationships
Relaxation and Leisure
Making a difference (for example doing charitable or community work)
Health and fitness
Personal development (for example, having a regular routine of meditation or reflection or keeping a journal)

Pick a few of these areas that are most meaningful for you. 
Say out loud or jot down some goals for each area of interest.

Finally, make sure these are good, well-formed goals by asking these questions.
Is my goal specific?
Have I got sufficient control over its outcome? 
How can I work towards this goal?

If you follow this procedure your goals will be BIG - balanced, inspiring and good.

Here's an example of how someone, let's call her Sue, moves from fairly thoughtless and hopeless New Year's resolutions, with little chance of success to  much more inspiring and achievable BIG goals.

Initially, Sue makes New Year's resolution to lose weight, cut out red meat and go to the gym.
Her friends are making similar resolutions, it what the magazines say she should do. But they don't inspire her, she doesn't really feel very committed  to them and they aren't actually very likely to succeed.

After reading this article, Sue thinks about what she would really like to say about herself at the end of the year.  She comes up with the following :-
- spend lots of good times with my friends
- manage my outbursts of anger which make it difficult for my family
- read more fiction
- plan a really good holiday
- be a good parent

When she reflects on these,  she feels much more inspired  than  she did thinking about losing weight and eating healthily.  These  new goals reflect the sort of person Sue wants to be, they reflect her values.

Next, Sue checks to see if they are BIG - balanced, inspiring and good goals.
Are these goals  balanced? Well, they relate to family, relationships, friends and relaxation, There isn't anything about work though, so she adds
- make more of an impact at work by getting my ideas across. She feels excited about the prospect of doing this,

Next, Sue considers whether her goals are inspiring. Yes they are, since they came out of the "what would you like to be able to say at the end of the year" question, they are bound to be.

Finally, Sue asks whether they are good, well-formed goals. They aren't  bad, but they could be even better.
She works out how to make each goal more specific - for example "being a good parent" becomes "listening to my children and considering their viewpoint whilst also maintaining good boundaries"
and "spend lots of good time with my friends" becomes "arrange at least one outing a week with friends"
Sue has already framed them in  a way which means she has a lot of control over most of the goals though she admits she doesn't know how to control her anger better. She decides to ask a friend if they can recommend a book, therapist of life coach that might help with this one.

Finally sue reflects on how she can work towards the goals . She decides to write them down and put them  on the fridge to remind her of the goals and to check her progress at the beginning of the month. To keep the momentum up, she shares all the goals with her family.

It needn't take you very long to set BIG inspiring goals for this year. You might even consider sharing some of them in the comments section.

It will save you reneging on those nutty New Year's resolutions.

More importantly, it may help make 2019 be a year to remember.