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In the 5,000 year old epic Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk, Gilgamesh sets out to find the secret of immortality. He undertakes an ardous journey and faces many dangers in his quest. In the end, he comes to the understanding that humans cannot be immortals. All we can do is to live our lives well here on this earth.
We live in an age of measurement. Data is constantly being gathered about us and used to measure and predict how we behave. When we go online we are being tracked and assessed, feeding into marketing profiles. Even in the physical world, cameras are recording us, and our iPhones and smart watches absorb a huge amount of information about our activity, down to our stride length.
Striving for externals
Do with “genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly”
John Bradford, the Sixteenth Century English Reformer, was a humble man. He was the Chaplain to King Edward VI. Yet, it is said that, whenever he saw a criminal led to his execution, Bradford would exclaim,
There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford!
How can Stoic philosophy help us understand what it means to be free? It’s a question that has preoccupied Stoics both ancient and modern.
As ‘the year like no other’ comes to a close, we may want to reflect on our lives so we may steer them better in the new year. In this issue of THE STOIC, our contributors provide excellent perspectives on living a better life, no matter what we have been through this year.
“There is no actual tomorrow.” My daughter said this to me as we talked about the way people experience time. It’s true: We’re always living in the right now, today. And we always seem to imagine that tomorrow will be just the same as today.
Happiness, wealth, and power
We can all think of people in public life who have accomplished big things and earned wide recognition, wealth, and power, even reaching the highest political offices or C-suite jobs.
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.
A curious philosophy
Stoicism is a curious philosophy. At its core is the strong conviction that we need nothing and need no one to be happy. Epictetus clearly summarizes this conviction.
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.
How do we react when unexpected things—such as a job loss or a health problem—happen to us? How do we react to predictable daily events? We often react to events in a way that causes more misery. Many people get depressed by they way they habitually react to things.
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.