SW2013 End-Questionnaires


For Stoic Week 2013, there are several questionnaires designed to be taken before and after the project.
These surveys were actually closed by the time I got to the last of them, since I did the project out of step with the intended timeframe.  C’est la vie, n’est pas?


So, instead I will take this time to discuss my thoughts on the Stoic Week.  I think it was a good exercise, and I can see how valuable it would be to someone very new to Stoic thought.  There was something in the manner that I did not quite prefer, something a little “touchy feely” in the tone.  This did not detract from the value of the experiment however.

While I was doing this project, I also began working with the New Stoa group, and entered their SES course, which seems to be more academically orientated than is Stoic Week.  This is good for two reasons: my skills and mindset bend towards the academic, but my desires for Stoicism lean to the practical.  I think this produced in me a more balanced approached.

I hope that Stoic Week does a 2014 iteration in the fall, and I look forward to participating more fully then.

SW2013 Day 7: Sunday


The View from Above.

“A fine reflection from Plato. One who would converse about human beings should look on all things earthly as though from some point far above, upon herds, armies, and agriculture, marriages and divorces, births and deaths, the clamour of law courts, deserted wastes, alien peoples of every kind, festivals, lamentations, and markets, this intermixture of everything and ordered combination of opposites.”
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.48

The exercise can be downloaded and followed here [LINK].

SW2013 Day 5: Friday


Today’s exercise is on the praemeditatio futurorum malorum, or premeditation of future evils.

1. Situation. Not being able to find or get a new job when I’m ready to move on from current one.
2. Emotions. Produces a strong sense of helplessness, of being stuck.  Ineritial.  (85%)
3. Duration. Not too long, about 2 and a half minutes.
4. Consequence. It was reduced, probably to 40%.
5. Analysis. I thought about it, and it’s not really that awful.  I’m not up against a hard deadline, and this job affords me lots of time to do things (like this) which are important to me.


SW2013 Day 4: Thursday


Today’s exercise is on Mindfulness.

“It is not the things themselves that disturb people but their judgements about those things.”
— Epictetus (Handbook 5)

I found today’s passage a helpful reminder.  I have previously been exposed to these ideas of treating our thoughts and emotions as things we have, and not as ourselves-proper.  I remember being a bit younger, and the idea rankled me somewhat.  I didn’t quite understand it, and I didn’t want to accept it.  If I’m not these things than what I am?  I’m still not sure I have the answer, but the question bothers me less.

I was talking with a good friend of mine, who on the occasion of his thirtieth birthday found himself pensive on the ideas of aging and progress.  We talked, and I noted that although I’ve aged, I can’t really note a difference in my thought-processes.  I look back, and the years and numbers seem arbitrary.  My thoughts and self seem the same.  I then appended, it with, “well, my mind is … quieter than it was when I was younger.”

He agreed and said that it was a poignant note.

In some ways, that makes it easier to focus on Stoic Mindfulness.  My mind seems quieter, calmer than it did 10 years ago.
I think that’s a good thing.

SW2013 Day 3: Wednesday


Today is about the Stoic Reserve Clause and action.  The Stoic position of acceptance or fatalism holds a seeming paradox in that we might expect the Stoic philosopher to be passive,  a mere victim to the whim of the world.  However both recorded history and the writings of these men prove the opposite.

Since our main chore is differentiating between those things which are under our control and those which are not, what we do after is sometimes not as focused upon.

It’s better to say we accept those things which we cannot control, and we try for more perfect control of those things which we may.

We should still for our very best, but this is merely a preference,  the outcome is usually an indifferent.

A timely anecdote:  today I have off work, and it’s my habit to take a long and relaxing bath in my free time.  Unfortunately,  I don’t have a bathtub at my apartment,  so I often make use of the one at my parents’ house.

Today, I had just arrived to take my bath when a friend called me with a problem at his house.  I experienced a momentary disappointment at havgin my plans twarted, but quickly set to thinking on it instead.

The absolute worst that could happen is that it could become an all day affair, and I wouldn’t get a bath today.  I have backpacked often, and at times went a whole week without a proper bath or shower.  One day wouldn’t kill me.  But what was more likely was that I would help my friend, and merely take a bath later in the day.

I also experienced then a momentary cheering up feeling, for getting to practice acceptance, as well as getting to help out my friend.

All in all, I did eventually get my bath, accepted the change in my schedule preference,  and was able to help a friend.

Additionally,  my mood is often turned for the worse by such changes, and the exercise today helped to keep that from happening.

SW2013 Day 2: Tuesday


Today’s exercises are about Self-Discipline & Stoic Simplicity.

In the summers of my early teenage years, I would often stay at a rather ascetic monastery.  One where most of the day was spent in silent contemplation.  I enjoyed the environment quite a bit.

It’s funny, how we drift away sometime from the foundations of youth, yet often find ourselves pulled back there.  I have been trying off and on with some success to make healthier choices.  Today’s passage discussed the sort of regimes that the Stoics would sometimes adopt.

I think I’ll use this opportunity to get back onto my eating and exercise routines.  If you’re interested, follow this link to learn about Tim Ferriss and the Slow Carb diet.

I’ll use some time this evening to cook foods in advance for the coming days, I find this is a good use of time, and allows for easier food-choices when things are already prepared.