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Turning ourselves into better humans
The study of how to turn ourselves into better humans sometimes suffers from a lack of “hard evidence.” I am a science writer, and I always look for quantitative as well as qualitative data when evaluating any practice or behavior.
Living in challenging times
We are living in challenging times. As Covid-19 continues to ravage wide sections of the globe, many of us are experiencing social isolation, and much worse.
Stressed and struggling - Many adults today are stressed and struggling as they cope with the global pandemic and its consequences. Kids, too, have a lot of reasons to be upset. Frustration comes naturally to kids, especially when they are stuck in their homes subject to new rules and restrictions.
Now that you have found this message in a bottle, I invite you to open your mind to a new way of looking at the world: through the perspective of Stoic philosophy. Stoic approaches can help you get through many challenges in life while cultivating your character.
Never say about anything, “I’ve lost it,” but rather, “I’ve given it back.” … What does it matter to you through what person the one who gave it to you demanded it back? So long as he entrusts it to you, take care of it as something that isn’t your own, as travelers treat an inn. Epictetus, Enchiridion, 11
We all face many uncertain times in our lives. But the current pandemic is a time of collective uncertainty, the like of which most of us have never experienced. What has Stoicism got to say in coping with a situation that is so uncertain? Our contributing editor Meredith A. Kunz offers a three-step plan based on Stoic principles to cope with uncertainty.
Chuck Chakrapani, Editor
We are the same as we always have been
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly.
Traveling is a good learning experience
Growing up, I thought that traveling somewhere else would turn me into a different person—a more interesting, cooler person.
Growing up, I was never a fan of habits. I tried to organize my life so that I wouldn’t be beholden to the daily movement of the clock. I rebelled against habits as basic as waking up early enough to get to school on time.
We are all physically vulnerable
Humans have always been physically vulnerable. We are not born with huge teeth, curving tusks, or thick horns. We don’t have the advantage of size or strength compared with other creatures on Earth. And yet, through the use of our flexible brains, we have become the planet’s dominant species. It’s our mental fortitude that carried the day.
If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VI, 21
Everyone hurries his life on and suffers from a yearning for the future and a weariness of the present. But he who bestows all of his time on his own needs, who plans out every day as if it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the morrow.
Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
My friend asked me a question about Stoic practice: “I know that in Stoicism, you don’t rely on external things for happiness. But if you stop counting on those things to make you happy, then is your default state to just be happy?” This really made me think.
WHAT WOULD A STOIC DO?
We tend to be self-centred. We constantly wonder what I should do if I fall ill, if I get angry, if someone is angry at me, if I don’t have enough money, if my coworkers are jerks, if my boss embarrasses me in front of others, if I fail to get the job I want … But while we are busy thinking about ourselves, life presents us with situations that we are not prepared for. Now what? Modern Stoics respond to our last month’s picture, the burning image of the Notre Dame Cathedral.