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
https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/philosophy/bryan-magee-1930-2019-the-champion-of-philosophical-wonderment-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
Friendships
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.