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