Stop Chattering About Other People

There is no more seductive time-suck than talking about other people and their choices. Why did she do that? Can you believe he lets his kids talk to him that way? I heard they cheat on their taxes. If I was in his shoes, you know what I’d do? Why don’t any of these politicians have … Continued

Forgiving To Others, Hard On Yourself

What you have studied and learned in philosophy should not make you harder on other people, only harder on yourself. Immature people use knowledge as a weapon. Wise people use it as a shield—to protect themselves and to protect others. This is what Ben Franklin meant in his epigram, “Search others for their virtues, thyself … Continued

He Who Has Courage Despises The Future

Imagine Napoleon on the battlefield, looking at a plan unfolding exactly as he thought. He observes that his prospects are rosy and positive. But he is indifferent to this. Always has been. “Even if it were otherwise,” he says, even if things were bad, “a man must live in the present. He who has courage … Continued

When You Can’t Go On

Samuel Beckett’s seemingly paradoxical line: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” Paul Kalanithi quotes it in When Breath Becomes Air, his haunting and moving book about facing his cancer diagnosis and eventual death. What does it mean? Exactly what you think. We say to ourselves many times in life, “I can’t go on like this.” … Continued

Humility Kills Pride

Carved on David’s sword in the Caravaggio painting David with the Head of Goliath is the acronym H-AS OS. It stands for humilitas occidit superbiam. Humility kills pride. It’s a line from St. Augustine, but Caravaggio, known for his beautiful, haunting realistic works, was a kindred spirit of the Stoics. (He himself carried a knife inscribed with nec spe, nec metu, “Without hope, without … Continued

Your Job Is Setting An Example

What is the job of the philosopher? It is to live the philosophy as best as they can. Will the philosopher mess up? Yes. Will the philosopher make mistakes? Yes, they are human. Will the philosopher fail to live up to their own standards? Yes, repeatedly. But that’s the job. The job is not to preach. Not … Continued

All Love, No Fear

The Stoics had two big tenets: Love and Courage. A love of everything that happens, and courage in the face of adversity and the unchangeable. Jon Gordon, the self-help author (and a guy who’s read at least a couple books about Stoicism from what he’s told us) describes this well in his book The Carpenter. A wise sage of … Continued

What Philosophy Is

It’d be hard to do a better description of Stoicism than Plutarch’s here: “The teaching of philosophy is not, if I may use the words of Pindar, ‘a sculptor to carve statues doomed to stand idly on their pedestal and no more,’ no, it strives to make everything that it touches active and efficient and alive, … Continued

Remember How Unaware We Can Be

It’s hard to see clearly, and so much of Stoicism deals with the ways in which our own minds fool us, trick us, and fail us. Science has confirmed this. In 1983, a pair of psychologists asked a large number of people the following question: “Linda is thirty-one years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. … Continued